Can I Smoke Pot Book Review

By | 2018-07-10T21:40:03+00:00 July 12th, 2018|
Can I Smoke Pot Book Review

Can I Smoke Pot?

by Mark L. Ward Jr., Tom Breeden
TCB Rating:
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Book Overview

Much anticipation has awaited the opening of the last of six dispensaries to open in New Jersey. Authorities in Los Angeles City have scheduled an ordinance in July to protect minors from exposure to billboard ads, promoting marijuana use. Curaleaf, a retail company, is opening a drive-thru in Florida to make picking up medical marijuana more convenient for disabled patients.

Can I Smoke Pot Book Review 1

The legalization of marijuana is a hot-button topic.

Much anticipation has awaited the opening of the last of six dispensaries to open in New Jersey. Authorities in Los Angeles City have scheduled an ordinance in July to protect minors from exposure to billboard ads, promoting marijuana use. Curaleaf, a retail company, is opening a drive-thru in Florida to make picking up medical marijuana more convenient for disabled patients.

Back in April, the Washington Post reported Matt Barnes, a former NBA player, admitting that he medicated during his best games with pot. Additionally, in response to the findings of two different studies, Keith Humphreys exhorted his readership to await further research before making a final decision on the inherent (un)helpfulness of marijuana.

Lastly, in the Atlantic, after admitting the inevitability of the government legislating marijuana, Reihan Salam avouched the gravity and complexity of legalization that places Marijuana, Inc. in the driver’s seat:

“But let’s not kid ourselves: Marijuana, Inc., thrives by catering to binge users, many of whom explicitly state that their dependence is getting in the way of their lives. By the time the cost of an hour of cannabis intoxication falls below $1 nationwide, the picture will start to change: The number of people who will turn to marijuana as a form of self-medication, or as a form of escape, will drastically increase. And most of them will be poor and vulnerable people, not the affluent bohemians so affectionately portrayed on HBO dramedies.”

Accordingly, how should Christians approach this topic? In their book, Can I Smoke Pot?, Tom Breeden and Mark L. Ward Jr. analyzes marijuana within the Biblical narrative of creation, government, medicine, and alcohol. To the surprise of a few, they conclude that the recreational use of weed is unbiblical, but to the demise of a few, the Bible warrants the medicinal use of marijuana:

“… [J]ust as our skin heals itself through a process God built into it, so God typically uses methods that appear ordinary and routine to us, but are no less acts of God… The Creator set up the universe to operate by a set of principles. These can be studied, and to some degree understood and manipulated because they follow the unchanging laws of one lawgiver” (Breeden and Ward Jr. 41, 46).

So, how does the biblical narrative of creation, government, medicine, and alcohol inform Christians on marijuana’s designed and commanded use?

Creation

After each day during the first six days of creation, God declared the goodness of His creation. Within the original natural order, marijuana is not inherently evil. Rather, it is good, and its goodness reflects the goodness of God. Do not be deceived. By faith, we can use marijuana, alongside food and sex, as a gift from God to increase our enjoyment of Him (Psalm 8; 29:1; 1 Timothy 4:3-5).

In and with Christ, we have died to the elemental spirits of the world (Colossians 2:20). “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, we need not submit ourselves to regulations, according to human precepts and teachings, which threaten disqualification by not abstaining from particular behaviors such as eating meat or drinking alcohol (Colossians 2:21-22).

We should be cautious in our use of marijuana. God commands us to use serious contemplation before using marijuana (Romans 14:5). All truth is God’s truth. Therefore, we need to seek wisdom from above. We need to pursue wisdom from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to dive into the Bible and science.

Then, we can piece all that knowledge and wisdom into an actionable plan. We will not always be fully correct. But, this process of serious contemplation glorifies God. We are making His gifts holy by faithfulness to His Word and prayer (1 Timothy 4:5). As new creations, we are bringing a sphere of creation, marijuana, under the Lordship of Christ.

Government

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, creation was subjected to futility with the goal of future redemption (Romans 8:19-23; Isaiah 65:17-25; Jeremiah 31:31-40). The mind and heart of man has become futile and darkened. Therefore, the usage of marijuana became warped and perverted in rebellion to the precepts of God.

Fire can foster warmth on a cold night. Water can nourish thirst. Uranium can power a city. When used in nonconformity to its original design, fire can burn a home, water can drown a person, and a nuclear bomb, containing uranium, can destroy a city. The government is necessary to maintain order.

In Genesis 1:26-28, God commands human beings to take dominion over creation:

“Humanity was created to be God’s representative authority, a major means by which he exerts his rule on our planet” (Breeden and Ward 21).

Government, alongside marijuana, is a part of the original natural order and is therefore good. God has granted our governing leaders the sword to execute justice and maintain order (Romans 13:4; Genesis 9:5-6). Without a system of government, chaos and anarchy would be widespread. Therefore, we are to respect our governing authorities (Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7).

This respect is to reflect an internal acknowledgement that God ordains them. Yet, because the government is run by people, and no perfect people exist besides Jesus, no government will be perfect on this side of heaven. Our governing authorities will make morally compromised decisions, but as long as their decisions do not collide with our allegiance to God, we must obey. We possess the responsibility to stay up to date and align ourselves with federal and state laws concerning marijuana.

Medicine

We can love and serve our neighbor by using medical marijuana to treat illness (Luke 10:34). By extension, we are glorifying God in that service. As the Great Physician, He heals the physically and spiritually broken. He has defeated death and suffering by the death and resurrection of Christ.

At the second-coming of Jesus, He will destroy and wipe away suffering  from our presence. Therefore, as recipients of divine mercy and love, we ought to acknowledge God’s acts of mercy and love through medicine and embrace those gifts with a grateful heart.

After King Hezekiah became sick, the prophet Isaiah commanded, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover” (Isaiah 38:21). Even though God commands us to give wine to the perishing and bitterly distressed, we are to cautiously use wine in treatment (Proverbs 20:1; 31:6; 1 Timothy 5:23).

Nonetheless, God permits treatment that relieves pain but does not necessarily promote health. Ultimately, in the practice of medicine, we must trust in God, who blesses the intellect and hands of the doctors, and not in the practitioners themselves (2 Chronicles 16:12).

Alcohol

Because of the goodness of our Creator imputed to us, we can use marijuana in conformity to His design. Because of the corruption brought by the fall, man, left to himself, uses marijuana in nonconformity to God’s design. What is God’s design for marijuana? God designed marijuana as a divine gift to further our enjoyment of Him through its use.

God considered the drink offering of wine to be a “pleasing aroma” (Exodus 29:38-46; Numbers 15:7). Man can use wine to gladden their hearts (Psalm 104:14-15). In David’s day, he commanded the Israelites, “Bless the LORD your God.” The Israelites responded with paying homage to King David and God, offering sacrifices to God, and feasting upon food and wine with glad hearts (1 Chronicles 29:20-22).

Because of the fall, God cut off man from fellowship with Him. But, God partially restored man’s ability to have fellowship with Him through the sacrificial system. While eating and drinking, the Israelites could enjoy joyful and intimate fellowship with God.

While drunk with wine, we cannot have joyful and intimate fellowship with God. We are bent towards making foolish and harmful decisions because we lose self-control. It deprives us of fruitfulness of work (Proverbs 23:20-21). When a person is drunk,

wine has dominated him (1 Corinthians 6:12):

“Wrong use brings drunkenness which robs us of clear thinking and our capacity for God-given fruitfulness” (Breeden and Ward Jr. 67).

Its the same with smoking pot. The point of smoking pot is not to enjoy God. The point of smoking pot is to escape from or radically alter reality.

In Christ, all the good gifts of God are designed to aid joyful and intimate fellowship with God. Jesus’ very first miracle was turning water into wine at the wedding of Cana. This miracle pointed to the blood that would be shed on the Cross to pay our ransom to reconcile us to God:

“Unholy people can sit down with a holy God through the blood of Christ symbolized by the Passover wine” (Breeden and Ward Jr. 69).

In response to Christ’s sacrifice, our spiritual worship is the presentation of our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). We no longer serve sin, which corrupts the good gifts of God. We serve God, who is redeeming us and His good gifts. In service to Him, we are to dominate marijuana with the same grace He dominated us with in our calling and regeneration.

I heavily recommend this book for all to read.

 

Anecdotal Articles:

http://www.nj.com/marijuana/2018/06/new_jerseys_long-awaited_sixth_medical_marijuana_d.html

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-damico-marijuana-ad-restrictions-20180618-story.html

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-reg-medical-marijuana-store-offers-drive-thru-option-20180618-story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/04/20/all-my-best-games-i-was-medicated-matt-barnes-on-his-game-day-use-of-marijuana/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.268a08ef94ce

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/04/20/does-medical-marijuana-decrease-opioid-use-or-boost-it/?utm_term=.afdab1fd2882

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/04/legal-marijuana-gardner/558416/

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