Response to NYT Guest Op-ed: “The Christian Case for Marijuana”

In “The Christian Case for Marijuana,” Mr. Jonathan Merritt argues that Christians should support marijuana legalization because of medicinal and social justice reasons. But his case falls woefully short of the full endorsement he’d like Christianity to make.

Components of marijuana may have medical benefits, and the FDA has rightfully approved some marijuana-based medications, but this is no reason to commercialize highly potent strains of the drug. To do so robs humankind of our volition and reason.

The social justice situation is also much more complicated than Merritt lays out. In Colorado, African Americans are arrested twice as much as whites for marijuana offenses, and they are being targeted by this new industry, with pot shops clustering in poor communities.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Go into all the world and harvest poor, drug-addicted souls for the most profit you can.” Marijuana legalization has led to a massive, multi-billion-dollar industry with over $3 billion in investment from Phillip Morris, selling more addictive, pot-laced candies, cookies, and gummy bears from pot shops primarily located in our poorest communities.

For those looking to God to inform their decisions on this matter, I do know His Word said, “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” (Proverbs 14:31)

Ultimately, the Bible tells Christians to, “be sober, be vigilant,” (1 Peter 5:8) and condemns laziness on many occasions (Proverbs 18:9) – two things in contradiction to the marijuana-based lifestyle Madison Avenue is selling us.

Those exercising a Biblical worldview should seek true criminal justice reforms and properly regulated medicines that help the poor. But we must protect our most vulnerable communities from legalization, which creates one of the ultimate forms of oppression the Bible talks about: a massive industry of rich people looking to harm the poor for their own gain. Jesus came to the world to save people from oppression. We should pray for the safety of our fellow man and act on their behalf using the light of truth and fact, not industry-funded fictions.