It is time once again for my semi-regular harangue on the subject of pot. I have several blogs in which I have risked the wrath of those who believe it is their libertarian free born American right to smoke dope, I mean pot. J I have also been chastised by those who believe that it should be their right as a Christian to smoke marijuana if it is not against the law. Somehow they think whacky tobacchy (as a friend of mine once called it) fits well in the Paul’s Romans 14 construct of Christian Liberty.
I have consistently warned anyone who will listen that there is little to nothing good about humans smoking marijuana. I’ve spent the better part of 4 decades telling patients that if they smoke tobacco it will kill them. Why people think that smoking marijuana will be harmless is beyond my understanding. I have listened to people give personal testimony to the medicinal benefits of smoking marijuana or consuming marijuana laced products. I have said and continue to say that real research on medical benefits of cannabis should be done for the few it might help.
On the other hand for the general public marijuana is a danger. Research published today shows what many of us have noticed in friends or loved ones who regularly smoke weed.[i] They change. Their personalities change. The abilities to think, their desire to work, and their memories are affected. The reason they change is that even once a week use of marijuana appears to change the human brain.[ii]
The study examined the brains of young people who smoked marijuana at least once a week and those who did not. MRI Brain-scans were used to look for changes. What the researchers found was that two areas of the brain changed as compared to non-users. The nucleus accumbens and the amygdala thickened. “These data suggest that marijuana exposure, even in young recreational users, is associated with exposure-dependent alterations of the neural matrix…” In other words it changes your brain!
In a study published in December of 2013, it was shown that areas of the brain that support memory were changed in heavy users of marijuana and that those changes remained even after 2 years of abstinence from pot.[iii] The current study would indicate that smoking marijuana for any reason is a threat to the ability to think.
There may be individuals with seizure disorders that will not respond to anything but the CBD portion of Marijuana and individuals in that situation should be able to use the drug in a form that does not require smoking. But, for the rest of us with normal healthy brains, marijuana poses real danger.
We know that 25% of young people who regularly smoke pot will be addicted and many of them will suffer brain changes that result in psychosis. Why would any Christian support the use, sale and taxation of recreational marijuana?
Paul specifically tells us in Ephesians 5:18 to not be drunk with wine but be filled/controlled by the Holy Spirit. Paul is telling us that Christians should not give themselves over to the control of addictive substances. We should certainly not use substances such as marijuana that damage the body that God has given us to serve Him. It reminds of wise words an old friend told me once. “Will you be able to serve the Lord better if you make that choice, or serve Him better if you do not?”
So, the question for the believer must be will I be able to serve God better intoxicated with marijuana, or sober?
[i] Jodi M. Gilman, John K. Kuster, Sang Lee, Myung Joo Lee, Byoung Woo Kim, Nikos Makris, Andre Van Der Kouwe, Anne J. Blood and Hans C. Breiter. Cannabis Use is Quantitatively Associated with Nucleus Accumbens and Amygdala Abnormalities in Young Adult Recreational Users. Journal of Neuroscience, April 16, 2014 (in press)
[ii] Society for Neuroscience (SfN). "Brain changes associated with casual marijuana use in young adults: More 'joints' equal more damage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140415181156.htm>.
[iii] Northwestern University. "Casual marijuana use linked to brain abnormalities in students: Dramatic effects of small time use; more 'joints' equal more damage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140415203807.htm>.