Is Marijuana Sinful for Christians? A Thomistic Analysis

Does smoking marijuana count as a sin? I’m in beautiful Colorado and yes the natives are toking. As you know, marijuana is becoming legal in certain states. So once again, the ethics of marijuana are back on the table.

If smoking marijuana is no longer illegal, is there any other moral reason why Christians should avoid it? Saint Paul told us to obey the arbitrary laws of our nation (speed limits in school zones) for the common good.

Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God.” (Rom 13:1)

It used to be that pastors and youth ministers could tell teenagers, “It’s illegal. Respect the law.” That was not the most forceful argument, but at least it was something. Now, if you live in Colorado or Washington, that argument  falls flat.

But is Marijuana Sinful?

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalis) is not sinful in itself. Stay with me. Don’t stop reading. God created marijuana. It is an herb with medicinal purposes. When God created the herbs of creation, He remarked that they were all good, cannabis included.

Now according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, a thing can be essentially good but used wrongly. Lead is essentially good. However, if I poison your water with lead, that’s not good. If I shoot a pointed lead projectile (bullet) into your chest, that’s not good.

God created hemlock. It’s good. But if you drink it like Socrates, you’ll die. Not good.

So our argument about marijuana cannot center on the fact that “God created it, so it’s morally okay.”

Marijuana and Human Rationality

Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Christian tradition identifies man’s rational intellect as what makes us “in the image of God.” Humans use logic. We are rational. We have an intellect. Humans play chess. Humans follow the rules of grammar. Humans build suspension bridges. Humans paint images. Humans travel to the moon and back. Humans write novels. This is what makes humans like God and the angels. Our logical, rational, intellect is the greatest gift that God granted our species.

Judaism and Christianity, therefore, traditionally identify the blurring of this great gift (the intellect) as sinful. Being intoxicated with alcohol has always been condemned by Scripture and Tradition – going all the way back to Moses. Here’s a sample:

Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:21)

The New Testament lists of “sins preventing the kingdom of God” historically identify “mortal sins” for the Catholic Church. We don’t have time to look at the theology of moral sins, but I spent a considerable amount explaining Saint Paul’s doctrine of mortal sin in my book on Saint Paul. If you’re interested, please check out the book on amazon.

Paul Ebook White (1)Drunkenness is evil because it blurs and muddies our highest faculty – rationality. Think about it. When a person is drunk, he resorts to how animals act. Drunk people act irrationally.

Drunk people don’t use language properly. They don’t think logically. Their moral compass fades. They sometimes fail to control their bodily functions. They cannot operate cars or machines because their intellect has lost its facility. The more drunk you become, the less human you act. By the way, this is how you know when you’ve crossed the line between being “merry of heart” and “drunk as a skunk.” If you cannot perform rational tasks, you’ve crossed the line.

Marijuana and Rationality

I’ll show my cards up front. I’ve never smoked marijuana. I don’t know how it feels. However, I have observed pot-smokers quite a bit (yes, I’ve been to a Phish show and my fair share of Willie Nelson concerts). Marijuana also inhibits the intellect. It doesn’t just provide a buzz (like drinking two beers). Marijuana inhibits the intellect. I grant that it may not be as bad as being stone cold drunk, but it’s still a “high” that inhibits the intellect.

From the point of view of Christian anthropology, it’s a slam dunk. Smoking marijuana is sinful to the extent that it inhibits highest function of the soul. This would apply to cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, and other drugs. Alcohol is different because its effects can be graduated.

What about Medicinal Marijuana?

If you’re going to pull a bullet from my arm and we have no painkillers, I’m getting drunk. And that’s okay. Same goes for the medicinal use of cocaine, opium, codeine, and marijuana. Of course, there must be a true medicinal cause. I don’t think that “having a headache” or “anxiety” is a just cause for smoking marijuana. I’ll leave the details to the medical experts.

Medicinal marijuana would fall under the precept of Proverbs 31:6,

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish.”

There are times when alcohol or others drugs are allowed for a greater good. However, I don’t think that Snoop Dogg’s prescription for smoking weed every day while sipping on gin and juice meet the medicinal criteria. Any substance that inhibits rational functionality should not be indulged.

If you’re interested in learning more about the structure of the human soul as it relates to virtue and vice, please download my FREE ebook on the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas titled: Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages – A Quick Layman’s Guide to Thomism.

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Question: Do you agree or disagree about marijuana and the deadening of the intellect? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Michael

    I mostly agree with your arguments, in principle, except to say a few things. One, I think you are mistaken in your characterization of a marijuana high more or less being all or nothing, that there isn’t a gradation like with alcohol. Actually, I know that to be wrong. I am not a pot smoker but many years ago I was. The people you encounters at the Phish show were obviously flat out stoned, which is what they were going for. But it is very possible to smoke a small amount, just taking a hit from the bowl, and enter into a more relaxed, calm, yet still quite rational state. In that regard, I think an argument can be made that under certain circumstances marijuana can actually enhance the intellect. We don’t see it often because right now it’s being largely illegal and relatively taboo, though less so, relegates it to the world of stoners who are just trying to get high. But in smaller quantities I think it likely it can have a de-inhibiting effect on the mind and can actually enhance the creative power of the brain. While I don’t smoke anymore, if you want to test my theory with me I may make an exception :)

    The second factor that I’m not making an argument one way or another just posing a question, is that it is possible that even though for the hour or two that a person is legitimately stoned their intellect is weakened, I wonder if it is possible that the relaxation and mellowness that it brings to the mind could have a post facto positive effect on the brain. Again, not talking about true stoners who are waking and baking and high all day. I mean someone who once a month or so on a weekend has a night where he or she gets high, as a mood mellower and stress reducer. The after effect could be that this person throughout their days following is more relaxed, more alert, more creative, less inhibited by fear and stress and anxiety. I don’t know. But if that is the case, could there be a principle of double effect argument there? Where the intent is not the high itself or rather the intellect weakening aspect of the high, but rather the intent is the creative strengthening of the mind that follows in the ensuing days? Just a thought :)

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      It’s hard to make a conclusion without experimentation. My worry relates to Dan’s experience. Marijuana smokers I have known tend to become less motivated. As such, they produce less.

      I consider myself an artist and I believe the most important element for being creative is lots of sleep and recreation. Also, one must be very intentional and productive. My experience watching others is that marijuana makes people less productive.

      I’m not sure Michelangelo could have accomplished what he did if he had recourse to Marijuana.

      I do appreciate your thoughts on the graduated effects of marijuana.

      • Dan

        Also, I would say that some, perhaps many, would soon find themselves using marijuana more than once a month. Anything that is very pleasurable has a tendency to be addictive, especially for those who are prone to addiction. Moving from a usage rate of once a month, to twice a month, to weekly, to daily, to multiple times a day is not out of the question. I think many ordinary, productive citizens could fall into that trap. And surely chronic use of marijuana is going to change the motivational set of anyone. One beer per day might be fine for most people, but one smoking session per day would have the potential to change the way one relates to his or her family, work, friends, etc.

        P.S. Sorry if this is overboard; I just think I have something to say about this topic. My apologies if I come across as opinionated for one-sided in my approach.

        • Michael

          I appreciate your experience, Dan, but I don’t find it a compelling argument. The fact that there are individuals prone to addiction in general is not a reason to proscribe to the general population potentially addictive substances. Alcohol can be highly addictive, but just because alcoholics exist we don prohibit alcohol, nor do we argue that alcohol is intrinsically sinful.

          • Dan

            Correct. But recall that for a while that prohibition of alcohol was an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. At least for a while, the government thought it was wise to prohibit alcohol, probably partly because of its addictive capacity and the toll prohibitionists thought that it had taken on society. Of course, the lack of success when it came to prohibition is one of the arguments for the legalization of pot. But there is certainly precedent for the government to prohibit substances that it determines are harmful. You guys are probably right that more research is needed. Still I have a hard time picturing the President of the United States or even the principal of the local high school talking about the cannabis that they smoked the night before in the same way that they might talk about having a beer with their buddies. If marijuana becomes normalized, it would be a landmark cultural change. My conservatism plus my own negative experiences make me want to take a pass…

        • NormaS

          What if they graduated? So what? A-Motivational syndrome is a myth. The reason we think that is because of the examples we have seen of the people on the nightly news…that is not the only example but we do not see all the ones who relax every night with pot because they are your normal next door neighbors.

          • Dan

            I guess I should not judge a person just because he or she smokes marijuana, particularly when it is legal. If it leads to sinful activity, however, I think there would be reason to question that usage. Another concern: does marijuana use interfere with one’s devotional and prayer life? Could one smoke a joint and then pray in good conscience? Go to Eucharistic adoration? The Rastifarians thought that “ganja” was like a sacrament…but we aren’t Rastifarians. All kidding aside, are there possible spiritual dangers in recreational marijuana use?

          • Chesire11

            I would say that anything which diminishes the self, or makes it more removed from objective reality is spiritually toxic.

          • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

            Amen.

            I would add that we Catholics have generally grown morally numb to drunkenness.
            We should see it as a mortal sin and not a “wink wink” peccadillo.

          • Chesire11

            Coincidentally, when my teen aged son and I have discussed both alcohol and drugs, this was exactly the argument I used, explaining that willful intoxication is to prefer an impaired self over the self that God created, in that sense, it is metaphorically, a sort of temporary form of suicide.

          • ThoseWhoStayUofM

            Impaired is a judgment loaded with false assumptions that you have been taught through social conditioning, language, and education. Marijuana use impairs short term memory, but enhances creativity, compassion, and understanding of abstractions. There is no black and white answer or solution. There are only trade-offs. This is why moderation is so important.

          • omenofsedad .

            That’s not the only problem. You’ve got a guy up on the stands now calling himself literally, when you translate his OFFICIAL title that the catholic church denied back in 1948 & then has on their official website decades later for the popes official title.

            Catholics are either wrong or they are knowingly lying. Either way, Catholicism is called the great beast that came out of the sea. It is a section of subsidiary corporation minded liars that still to this day practice that deceitful & immoral practice of donation tithes to the pope who mocks himself up as God on Earth & the replacement for Jesus Christ, the VICOR of god.
            I am of course referring to the people that actually know what’s going on & intentionally hide that information from others, thus jeopardizing their salvation for their greedy self-worship.

            I am a Christian but as I have sought my answers from the lord, I am guided to many places…I may choose to share the knowledge with others, I do this willingly in my many hours of suffering physically to know the lord almighty & his forgiving power of divinity as the begotten son of God.

            However, believe this if you like. Marijuana, Like alcohol is considered a sin based on what you do while you’re on it, we all must be held accountable for our actions in life, thus is why Jesus reminds us of this. You are judged according to your works in life, so long as you were repentant.

            Take this as an attack if you want, I am here to spread the truth to as many, for as people have eyes, they must see the word, if they have ears, they must hear the gospel at least once.

            Many come & lie, even those who got their hands on the KJV bible back in 1611….but liars will be held accountable for their actions. You know why….because they knowingly did it, that’s why. They knew it was evil to do that.

            When God brings up the dead for judgement, they’ll find out the price for lying intentionally & what it gets them. Liars always get sores on their bodies & look deformed over time. Just think about this information you’ve been given here…’cause not a lot of people actually really research this information.

            I’ve told you all on this topic, from the first messege left to this messege to you…A duality statement.

          • omenofsedad .

            One last thing I make known to you, Taylor Marshall.

            Those who truly do follow the lord will repent even for forgiveness from God of their sins past & present, leave with no regrets, love God, care for others, love your neighbors…All God & Christ wanted us to do was to be reconciled with him & to just live a good wholesome life where we don’t sin & hurt others & cause them pain & suffering for our own benefit.

            The hallmark of one who is in service of the lord is their ability to put forth information that would normally seem insane to most people but under circumstances, will seem more sane than the things you thought were normal.

            For what we often don’t see with our eyes is usually some times the most accurate path to follow…Faith in God, but not blind faith, we can not see him but he can see us & he knows our actions.

            Actions
            Responsibility
            Morality
            Repentance
            Forgiveness
            Faith
            Trust
            Love

            These are all attributes of desires that God almighty gave to us, as human beings, so that we may treasure these things that were given to us.

            Now go forth & be at peace, your answers have been given in a three part summary.

            Don’t believe any of it…you do the three week research that drives you up the wall until it begins to make sense to you. I would enjoy some one beside myself sacrificing that much time to do the right thing for others & humanity as a whole…for as the many see this, so to shall you & you will know that I am of the Lord in intent, living & in my very thoughts & feelings.

            God loves you, Taylor, his thoughts regarding you are as countless as the seashells on the shore & the speckles of the sand in the beach.

            It’s time to go home.

          • ThoseWhoStayUofM

            How dare you speak in these terms! Just like a Pharisee! Have you ever really inquired into what the self is? I doubt it very much. Have you ever inquired into what objective reality is? In fact, there is no objective reality. There is only subjective reality that IS the self.

          • Chesire11

            If there is only subjective reality, and what we perceive as objective reality is merely a projection of the self, then your objection to my comments are meaningless. Either you, and your arguments are projections of my self, or I am a projection of yours. Without an objective reality in which all subjectivities are rooted, conversation is impossible, lol!

            Fortunately, however, there is a singular source of Being, which does constitute objective reality. We call Him “God.”

          • Cornman

            On the contrary, I would say from much experience and observation of others under the influence of cannabis, that it, unlike alcohol, opiates, etc, does not generally tend to make one “more removed from objective reality” but in fact seems to turn off the brains natural information filtering processes that block out “unimportant” sensory and thought input which has the sometimes overwhelming effect of smacking you in the face with REALITY in the most objective and unprocessed way possible. Any issues which one has been suppressing or neglecting will suddenly come gushing out of the subconscious mind like a geyser and entering the conscious mind in perfectly crystal clear high definition form. This tends to result in anxiety if these suppressed and neglected areas of life are not immediately dealt with. All of this makes cannabis a very poor choice of drug for escaping life’s troubles for many people. People need to stop comparing cannabis to alcohol its like comparing using night vision goggles to being lobotomized.

          • Jared

            potentially. God speaks to people in strange ways and that way could include marijuana. Remember though that Satan can tempt one’s senses through a heightened state. Be careful and trust God’s influence. It really is as simple as that.

          • davecccc

            Marijuana is a sense enhancer, everything feels, tastes, sounds and looks better when you smoke, you are more spiritually connected when you smoke. I think you could pray in very good conscious while using it. Im not religious myself, but i do feel very spiritually connected when im high. Think of it as you want, i dont believe there is anything wrong with it.

          • Danielck

            It is easy to see who has been “damaged” by the evil effects of pot. It is in their language. It is in the words they use (and often forget to use). It is in their advocacy for a chemical that distorts the reality of God and man.

          • ThoseWhoStayUofM

            Is this sarcasm? Look at your own language. You say the effects of pot are evil, that people who use pot are damaged, that pot is a chemical that distorts reality…

            Firstly, you have irrationally judged the effects of pot as evil without any reasoning. Secondly, yiu have said that people who smoke pot have been damaged, when it could equally be said that they have, in fact, been cured. Thirdly, the word “chemical” is used for negative context when pure water is also a chemical. Lastly, to distort one’s perception is not the same as to distort reality. You are using terms you have not defined and are speaking on matters you have never even inquired into. Wearing eyeglasses distorts reality by these definitions. Do you see this?

      • Michael

        I think one of the challenges for me as I just attempt to analyze the concept is the question of how representative the pot users we know are of how pot generally is going to implicate things like motivation and abuse. Because of the very fact that it’s illegal, is it the case that marijuana use has already been relegated to a certain segment of the population, people already predisposed, say, to take irrational risks just for the sake of getting high? As you said, it’s hard to answer a question like this without experimentation, and I’m not certain experimenting with legalizing it is a good idea. I tend to be torn on the issue myself.

        As for Michaelangelo, again, it’s really hard to say. Even among people who have abused marijuana we have seen some tremendous creative productivity. One of the thoughts that was on my mind as I articulated my second point was an interview I read once with John Lennon (no, I am not comparing the Beatles to Michaelangelo!). He said that the Beatles never wrote any music while stoned. He said it would have been basically impossible. Rather, they got high, and that would alter their experience in some way, feed their creative mind in some way, and then when sober again they would write. Mind you, I think we can all agree that from a Catholic moral perspective the way the Beatles used drugs was clearly sinful. But clearly their creative output was not lacking in motivation, just looking at the amount of music they produced in a short period of time.

        I think my first point is the one that most intrigues me. Take away the taboo and make it legal, and I wonder if there is a more normalized use of it where it’s not a bunch of people just looking to get stoned, a so-called stoner culture, but regular people who feel free to use it in a moderated manner. My main reason for hesitating to support legalization is precisely what you said, we won’t know till we try, and I’m not now convinced the risk is worth it, though I guess in some sense places like Colorado will become little smoky laboratories, so we’re going to find out anyway.

        • Clyde

          Michael, Chad Eberhart, and Holly: What evidence is there that the creativity was not already there and would have shown up without the marijuana? Especially considering the talent of the Beatles! They might have been just as phenomenal drug-free! Afterall, they weren’t the only musical geniuses in history! They too stood on others’ shoulders. Many things are a matter of timing. Tomatoes were once thought to be poisonous because many people who had eaten them fell ill. Chad, have you considered that it may have been your reflections on what you heard at church, and from other good mentors; your growth in maturity that lead you to form more responsible habits and decisions? Holly, same thing; it may have been personal growth and self esteem DESPITE marijuana use that was going on! Your experiences were really the same natural issues we all have had to deal with. In fact, you all may have experienced these areas of development sooner without the marijuana.

          • Chad Eberhart

            All that you say could be true, Clyde, but the issue that was being addressed was whether marijuana is necessarily the culprit for lack of motivation. In Holly and my case it seemed to either have no effect on motivation or it actually helped our studies. I really can’t say one way or the other so sure, maybe church and good mentors somewhere in the past guided us through the smoke;-)

          • ThoseWhoStayUofM

            The Beatles say that marijuana use aided them creatively… and you ask what evidence is there that they would have been less creative without the pot? I’m sorry, but how have you acquired such arrogance to suggest you know better than The Beatles regarding what promotes their own creativity?

        • NormaS

          If we take away the question of the morality of use…is it good for us as a society to lock people up, take them away from their children and ruin their prospect of a decent life? Is this a moral outcome?

      • Chad Eberhart

        I think it’s difficult to make a blanket statement that marijuana users are less motivated. For myself when I was a big marijuana smoker I made the best grades of my life. In high school I was church rat and nearly failed out of school. While in college, after deciding on a major (and smoking every day) I made the best grades of my life).

        • Holly

          I agree, Chad. I’ve always had really bad anxiety and marijuana helped me mellow out enough in high school to pass and even graduate with a 3.8 GPA. I’m not necessarily advocating that high school kids should smoke marijuana, especially since it’s illegal, but am agreeing with your point about motivation.

          • Danielck

            Maybe by not smoking pot in high school you would have graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

        • Danielck

          You made the statement: “I made the best grades of my life” twice in three sentences. To me, that looks like one of many (negative) side effects of being a stoner.

          • Chad Eberhart

            Right, Danieick, because people who have never smoked marijuana never do that. It’s comments like this that make me wonder about how grace works in peoples’ lives and exactly how it makes people better human beings. It’s very discouraging.

      • Raguel

        I have smoked pot on a number of occasions and I will say that I agree with you and disagree with the above commentor.

        You don’t smoke pot for any other reason than to “get high.” The reason my friends smoke things is to escape their consciousness. Yes it happenens in degrees, but if we are being honest there is no other reason to smoke it other than to get the psychotic effect.

        This is not the case with alcohol since we can tolerate it much more, and it is typically used as a food and not for entertainment. For example, having a glass of wine over a candle light dinner, or a glass of beer at a BBQ. These are categorically different situations than getting high with your friends and wasting the night playing video games.

        I would also say that if one were using alcohol for entertainment, such as at a party or club where the only reason is to get drunk, that would be the same sin as smoking weed to get high. If people think they can smoke weed without getting high well that is their choice, my experience tells me they are being dishonest with themselves though.

        Indeed hemp can be used for a lot of useful purposes, but I don’t thing getting high is one of those. At least in Gods eyes.

    • Clyde

      Michael: I, too, have been there, done that. “But in smaller quantities I think it likely it can have a de-inhibiting effect…” BINGO! As Dr. Marshall iterated in his article, that is precisely what makes it a sin: voluntarily putting yourself into a mind altered state wherein the powers of judgement are debilitated. I think it is flattery and over-exageration to emphasize a seeming increase of creativity, but even if it wasn’t, what profits one to gain the whole world, only to lose their soul, ultimately along with everything else previously and temporarily “gained”. My third point is regarding the medical aspect. My husband is a cancer survivor. He fought hard for over 5 yrs. He had many surgeries and every known cancer treatment available at the time, including radiation, all in mega doses, and was a (willing) guine pig for a number of experimental treatments. His prognosis was grim from the beginning. His cancer cell was one that only had 10% survival rate WHEN caught early, which his was not; it had metasticised into organs and lymph system. But he’s an alpha male, a kick-butt kind of guy, and it was God’s will that he beat the thing. However, it was not God’s will that he not suffer. He had His reasons. Needless to say, “medical” marijuana was in the mix. Medically, it had the effect of an aspirin. Of course proponents of weed legalization are going to jump on the “medical” bandwagon! That’s a no-brainer! But you know what? Don’t think you are going to find a whole lot of relief there! Placebo effect can run very high, haha, pun intended ;), and Aspirin is a lot cheaper and won’t deteriorate your morals.

      • Chad Eberhart

        Sounds like you are against alcohol, nicotine and caffeine by your definition of what constitutes sinfulness. In fact you might even be against falling love by your definition. Not sure your understanding is congruent with the Catholic Church’s, though.

        • Clyde

          Chad Roflol. Now that’s quite a blanket statement for having just said you’d have difficulty making one! And please don’t mistake my laughing as being derogatory; seriously its because it is soooo not me! But really, how on earth did you make that big a leap?

    • Stephanie Riverman

      This post was a long time ago, but I’d like to add that Israeli scientists have developed a strain of cannabis that is so low in THC that there is no high, but it is very, very high in CBDs, which have medicinal use. The have done their research mainly with the elderly, finding good results in the fight against dementia. There are many other medicinal uses that I’m sure are being researched at this time. Colorado has two avenues for people to purchase pot. They can get a legal prescription from their doctor that they take to a medical dispensary, or they can purchase pot to get high from a recreational dispensary. Recreational folks are going to have to pay about 50% taxes on product while medical use doesn’t take such a big chunk.

  • Dan

    I smoked marijuana on a regular basis for almost ten years. I can testify that that Dr. Marshall is correct: although marijuana does not inhibit one to the extent of being “stone cold drunk” it has a negative effect on the intellect. I would also add that marijuana effects the will, volition, and emotions negatively. Before I started smoking marijuana in high school, I was an honors student near the top of my class; I had a girlfriend who was also an honors student; I had many healthy hobbies and interests including sports and music; and I had a group of regular friends. As I continued to smoke marijuana, I lost my ambition and drive to be successful in life and had to leave college after three semesters. I became more and more unsocial and started viewing pornography and even visiting massage parlors and escort services. I was arrested on two different occasions for alcohol related crimes. Emotionally speaking my life became very dark, even to the point of needing to hospitalized in a psych. ward. I am proud to say that for the last five years I have been drug and alcohol free. I still suffer some of the consequences for my actions, but, by God’s grace, things have gotten a lot better. I know I can’t blame marijuana completely for what wrong in my life (my sin is my own responsibility, in addition to it being inherited from Adam), but I do think that marijuana might have contributed to me giving in to my lower desires and becoming less “human” as Dr. Marshall put it, certainly less human than I was before I started using.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Thank you for boldly sharing your experience. Even more thank you for sharing the story of your redemption. As the Baptists say, “That’s a great testimony.”

      • Dan

        LoL. No problem. BTW, I was in a Baptist-like non-denominational church for about five years…so I guess that would explain the “testifyin’ ” impulse.

        • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

          As they say in Texas, “That’ll preach.”

    • NormaS

      That is your experience not everyone’s.

    • Clyde

      Gosh, Dan, congratulations for your progress!! Kudos to you for sharing your story! Too many people believe that scenario is rare and that it won’t happen to them. More flattery! I’ve seen it happen to too many friends!

    • James Jeffery

      Dan, this is your experience. How about those that smoked marijuana through college and completed with a first and then went on to be successful and still use marijuana? People assume these people do not exist because the media does not report them and nobody gets to hear about them. If I am blunt, it’s your lack of determination, and “abuse”, that stopped you achieving not marijuana. You are the user, and if the user abuses it’s the user that’s to blame. This is exactly why marijuana gets a bad name because people can not control themselves and blame the weed. Marijuana is not addictive in the slightest. And there is no evidence to suggest natural marijuana is addictive.

      • Jared

        and admitting that one made a mistake through marijuana use is absolutely ok and is not damning as long as you forgive yourself and link yourself with the proper energies. God expects and knows that we cannot understand everything so we need to trust in his energy. All people who are meant to be Christians find this energy through their own unique way. Have marijuana opposers ever thought that maybe God is using marijuana to speak to them? That truth may be an anomaly but prohibition for everyone is not the answer.

    • Melissa Marhefka

      Marijuana helped me get A’s and B’s in college by helping me focus. When in high school and jr high I got D’s and F’s. So it did not take away from my intellect, it gave to it. I have never been “less motivated” while smoking, in fact I am married, own a home,
      And have my own business.

  • http://uniconoclast.com/ Uniconoclast

    Also, there is the argument that St. Paul is referring to drug use in Galations 5:20 when he uses the word “pharmakeia”- which is translated as sorcery. But seeing as this word is a form of the Greek root that gives us such English words as pharmacy and pharmaceuticals – one has to wonder if he wasn’t talking about the use of opiates and hallucinogenics to alter consciousness, which can produce a very “spiritual” experience for many – and one that does not typically lead them to Jesus.

    • Dan

      For me marijuana was a “gateway drug” (sorry for the cliche). Within a year or so of smoking pot, I had also taken LSD and psychedelic mushrooms, as well as intentionally overdosed on cough syrup. Within two years I had taken ecstasy, and snorted both cocaine and amphetamines. During some of these drug trips, I did have what some would call a “spiritual” experience. One of them, was particularly bad–even terrifying to me at the time. In addition to changes/damage to the brain and psyche that might have occurred with these experiences, I also have to ask if there was any supernatural, perhaps demonic, contact made. Just as Jesus is linked with the Eucharist and the Mass, you have to wonder if malevolent spirits could be tied to certain drugs–or if they commonly use drug experiences as a way to influence a person negatively. Just a speculative, if chilling, thought.

      • Clyde

        Dan, it is definitely a portal, as confirmed by authentic Satanists. Listen to Fr. Corapi tell of his experiences. He talks about curses that are regularly placed on large caches before distribution. We are taught that Satan has minimal power over us, especially if / when we are in the state of Grace, but when we start down the road of drug use, we are usually not in the state of Grace. We’ve already been parlaying with the devil, just like Eve. As Bishop Sheen and many other significant spiritual mentors have said, no one falls into mortal sin overnight! They’ve already been into venial sins for awhile. It is a slippery slope. And we succumb to self-flattery so easily.

        • Hunter

          Clyde I’m confused, are you saying marijuana is bad simply by the fact that someone might try and curse it?

          I’ve had people say this about tattoo ink as well. If this is true, boy they are missing a true opportunity, as they should all get jobs at dasani and ozarka and curse all the bottled water. So silly.

  • Steven

    But what if it decreases the phronesis but increases the nous?

    • JoeAllen

      Please elaborate beyond giving us two words. You have our interest.

      • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

        Phonesis = prudence or right decision making

        Nous = intellect or rational mind power.

        St Thomas (and I) would say that the two come and go together.

        • Steven

          Mary Jane’s advocates say that it stimulates the nous. Perhaps in a mystical way?

          • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

            “Mystical” refers to the influence of the supernatural. One would have to say that God provides supernatural grace to pot smokers in order for them to have a truly mystical experience.

            If that were the case, all the saints would be attracted to Marijuana, which isn’t the case.

  • Benjamin Keil

    Dr. Marshall,

    I’m writing a philosophy journal article now on this very topic (while also writing my philosophy dissertation…so the odds of the article being completed any time soon aren’t great, to say the least). :-p Nonetheless, my analysis proceeds largely along the same lines as what you identify here (specifically with respect to trying to draw out an analogy between the moral analysis of marijuana and the moral analysis of alcohol).

    My only disagreement with what you write here, as someone else mentioned, is the way you draw out the analogy with alcohol. Clearly (by Aristotelian-Thomist moral analysis), *if* marijuana use is contrary to man’s rational nature, *then* its intentional (recreational) use is immoral. But just as drinking isn’t intrinsically contrary to man’s rational nature (while drunkenness is), I think one can also successfully argue that mild marijuana usage isn’t intrinsically contrary to man’s rational nature (while heavy [rationality-impairing] use would be). So I guess it all depends on the empirical question of whether having one “joint” is more like having one glass of alcohol or more like having enough alcohol to be drunk.

    I also appreciate your point about the medical use of marijuana. If indeed one has a legitimate medical condition requiring pain relief, and if marijuana is the best pain relief method available, then I think its use is morally unproblematic. Of course, doctors will have to be careful that their patients have a legitimate medical need, and that their patients do not become addicted during the course of treatment, etc., but doctors already face these challenges with other prescription painkillers.

    Regardless, thanks for writing on a very timely topic. It was a pleasure to read what you wrote!
    Yours Sincerely,
    ~Benjamin Keil

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Do you have any research on the gradual effects of THC? I’d love to have some facts to share.

  • Rob

    Gloriously accurate typo. A “heroine” is certainly among the things that seem in the course of nature to inhibit the intellect. At least I’ve rarely found myself in peaceful possession of all my faculties around them.

    • Terrye Newkirk

      On the topic of typos: In a well-argued piece that cites diminution of language skills as a side effect of intoxication, perhaps proofreading is a desideratum: “marry” for “merry,” “spoked” for “smoked.” Etc. ;-)

  • James

    “High for a night, slow for a month”

    That’s what smoking dagga does.

    Anyone who lives in Africa know what it does. It is bad news.

    Habitual use robs the user of his edge.
    It has ruined the life of one of my brothers.

    Mix dagga & alcohol & you get unpredictable results.
    I refused to smoke it ever again after one youthful experience of mixing the two. Closest I ever came to sexual assault

    Medicinal use is OK but restrict it to use as medicine then it is good thing.
    It relieved the nausea of chemotherapy when my wife had cancer.
    There are other medicines which do the same thing.

    Generally – I say it is a bad idea.

  • mmatthew

    So what? Most people aren’t Christians – most Christians aren’t Christians. I knew you’d come down on the side of alcohol though and why not? After making that stupid vow of never smoking a good bowl of pipe weed, your brain is so addled you don’t know what to think. Nobody listens to aquinas any more. Doubt if anyone listened to him in his heyday!

    • Ron Van Wegen

      I can’t see how your comment contributes anything of value to this conversation. It’s immature and troll-like.

      • James Patton

        Paulines (those that follow St. Paul) are not viewed by atheist as Christians.

    • kj

      Cafeteria catholic.

  • Pingback: Medieval Latin Catholics Sometimes Sang In Greek - BigPulpit.com

  • Saved by God’s Grace

    Dear Dr. Taylor: We called it grass or weed in my early 20′s days in S.F. I am of the opinion that the marijuana of today is an enhanced product (through selective propagation) which very much increases the “high” or “getting stoned” feeling with less actual consumption–a little dab’ll do ya. After becoming a Christian by God’s grace, I have done some analysis of what was going on “in the day” (and is no doubt still going on) regarding entities in the “higher realms”; I have concluded through research and observation that smoking such intoxicants somehow opens a psychic door bringing in demonic activity, even demonic attack, to the unaware consumer. Do we know where and how the product was harvested? There are no product controls (I don’t know about what’s available in the legalizing states). Some suppliers have been known to add a dash of PCP to “enhance” the high–something from which susceptible souls may never recover. And let us also consider “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers [pharmakos] and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers [pharmakos] and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. (Revelation 22:15). Witchcraft was condemned in the Old Testament as sorcery (pharmakeia) from which we get the word “pharmacy”–a word with an obvious connection to any kind of drug, especially of the mind-altering variety mentioned in the Bible and used in the practice of sorcery. Watch the change in the language, the posture, the type of music he listens to, the relationship between his parents and siblings, the attention to school work when a young person begins to “party” with marijuana. He may make all the excuses in the world as to its benefits–but that, as far as I’m concerned, is the evil one speaking. We should also consider the effect of the satanic prayers of those who raise and deal the stuff, any kind of illicit “stuff.” A great deal of spiritual healing is needed for the one who indulges in any kind of pharmakeia (not the legitimate kind–I’m sure your readers understand the difference). We need to pray for those who have become addicted (especially those who swear they are not addicted; they “just need a little toke to take the edge off”). PS: I had a mind-altering experience with marijuana–it is pharmakeia in the negative sense.

    • NormaS

      Actually most people describe an enhanced connection to God after trying cannabis? To each his own?

      • Clyde

        ’tis very important to discern which god

        • Sean

          That is 100% myth, less than 1% of cannabis is ever laced.

      • Clyde

        Ironicly, our ability to rightly discern has been hindered. Guess that’s why it’s called “dope”!

        • Chad Eberhart

          …and it looks like your ability to be charitably has not been helped one iota from your Mass attendance and prayers.

    • Cornman

      “Satanic prayers of those who raise and deal the stuff”??? If it weren’t for the other 95% of your post I would be certain you were joking. I can assure you it is entirely possible to grow very good cannabis without a single prayer, whether satanic or otherwise. In my experience cannabis is quite benign and I find those under its influence to be generally more pleasant to be around than most especially compared to those intoxicated with alcohol. If any drugs deserve the title of “satanic” its opiates and amphetamines. I have seen absolutely nothing but negativity as a result of their use in both myself and others and I have found opiates, unlike cannabis, to turn people into grade A assholes who are constantly unhappy and are absolutely unable to admit doing wrong of any kind, not to mention being as closed minded as is possible. Give these same people a few hits of weed and all of the opiate-induced negativity, hostility and closed-mindedness seems to just evaporate. The only other drug Iv’e seen more profoundly eliminate all traces of negativity from a person is MDMA.

  • don

    1) weed is a mortal sin, per the catechism, as are all drugs; and/or 2) medicinal uses are not likely sinful in any way, but who are you kidding? you think mother teresa was a stoner? read revelations -=- in the end times drugs are popular. kinda like now. dont participate in sins of the flesh. listen to the Blessed Mother from Fatima. the catechism is clear, even if rome is under the rule of modernists…

    • Chad Eberhart

      If you look at the reasons marijuana is considered a mortal sin (the catechisms reason are not very clear and need more explanation) much of it has to do with the money that goes toward violent drug traffickers. Legalization would solve that issue, not to mention just buying home grown marijuana.

    • Cornman

      “in the end times drugs are popular”
      - Please inform me of a time when drugs were not popular. People have been getting high for as long as they’ve been eating food and cannabis especially is in no way a new phenomenon. The Chinese have known about it for at least 5000 years and have used it medicinally for at least as long.

  • Joseph

    This was an interesting article. Two things, however, come to mind. The first is that the final argument, i.e. that cannabis is sinful barring special circumstances, rests on the assumption that voluntarily giving up one’s ability of reason is the sole problem with cannabis. Using this logic, one could condone the use of drugs that increase one’s ability to reason (amphetamines, for example, are widely “abused” on college campuses to increase one’s studying abilities). If the benchmark of the use of a substance is whether or not it effects one’s reason I would have to say that argument is riddled with holes.
    Rather, I believe that the sinfulness from smoking weed is a sin of omission. I think South Park (uncouth as it is) has a great view of smoking marijuana. Distilled to its essence, the argument states that while smoking weed is not inherently a bad thing, it makes one lazy and unable to recognize their true potential. The “loss of reason” argument is weak. Some are able to smoke recreationally and still function. I recently had a talk with one of these individuals. I think the argument to make, and the one I made to him, was that while he was indeed accomplishing more than many of his peers he wasn’t living up to his true potential. Getting high on special occasions is one thing, but I think its the repeated use that truly allows sin to come into the act. Rather than reason, I believe the true sin is giving up on one’s individual potential.
    Essentially, I think this is truly an issue dealt with in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14).

    • Mommy4

      I totally agree with you Joseph! My husband has been a habitual user for around 30 years and I have seen its destructive behavior!
      He is not your typical stoner type either. He has always had a job and always provided for our family but, I know he has not lived up to God’s potential for himself or our family.
      Is the pot laced with something? How do you know what others have done to it before it gets into your hands and what damage can long term use do to the brain and body?
      Too many questions for me to ever want to try or experiment with!
      The Devil uses many tools and I believe this to be one of them that can take a person gradually over time.

      I pray for all those afflicted with addictions as I know the pain it can create.

      • Joseph

        I’m sorry to hear that. but if you read the last part of my comment you’d see that you agree with me.

  • Kjetil Kringlebotten

    An overall good article, but some of the opening words seems out of place:

    If smoking marijuana is no longer illegal, is there any other moral reason why Christians should avoid it? Saint Paul told us to obey the arbitrary laws of our nation (speed limits in school zones) for the common good.

    I don’t see the relevance of St. Paul’s point here. Keeping speed limits are good and it’s mandatory. But even if smoking marijuana is legal is some states, it’s not mandatory.

    • Dr Taylor Marshall

      That idea is that human positive law is binding when not contrary to natural law.

      Not smoking marijuana in some states is mandatory. Similarly, not speeding in school zones is mandatory.

      Neither is a precept of natural law, but each is binding on those under the jurisdiction of such laws.

  • http://africandistributist.blogspot.com/ Jonathan Waldburger

    Great article, but you’ve made a fundamental error: since his conversion to Rastafarianism, Snoop Doggy Dog is now known as Snoop Lion.

  • Laurence England

    If someone asks you if smoking pot is okay, just tell them Our Lady doesn’t like it.

  • Chad Eberhart

    A “slam dunk”? I’m not so sure about that. This is the problem with people who have never smoked marijuana weighing on it’s effects. I don’t know if it was intentional or not but Marshall does a bit of slight-of-hand to make his argument. He goes from making a distinction with alcohol between “making marry (sic)” and being drunk, then later says it’s never okay to be intoxicated and that it’s always wrong to impair rationality. So which is it? I can be intoxicated (in fact as soon as I have one beer I can feel the effects of intoxication and my rationality has been impaired, i.e., I’m merry) but not drunk; it is a degree of intoxication. Intoxication is not condemned by scripture. In fact, you could make an argument it is encouraged. Jesus did not get accused of being a wine bibber for nothing.

    I’ve smoked marijuana literally thousands of times. I can tell you that out of all the times I’ve been high there are only about a handful of times where I could honestly say I lost cognitive ability. And if I were to go back in time I bet I combined marijuana with alcohol and probably nicotine. Alcohol and nicotine are excellent for potentiating the effects of marijuana. Also, there are arguments to be made that marijuana actually enhances cognitive ability in limited ways. So, I just think marijuana doesn’t fit nicely into biblical or Thomistic thought.

    • Hunter

      I think it would shock these folks, how many neurosurgeons have and still smoke weed.

  • Edward Mulholland

    So I’m guessing a pouch of herbs concocted by a Navajo medicine man is OK in a pipe…

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Affirmative. But don’t reveal my secrets to the public. ;)

      • Edward Mulholland

        This was what I was going to post first:
        “Legalize it, and I’ll Aquinize it!” – Taylor Marshall
        Sorry, man. Send me an e-mail on emulholland@benedictine.edu and we can correspond normally. I don’t know why we don’t have the list from WY yet.

  • yan

    ‘Of course, there must be a true medicinal cause. I don’t think that “having a headache” or “anxiety” is a just cause for smoking marijuana. I’ll leave the details to the medical experts.’

    Dr. Marshall, I have noticed a trend among moral theologians: they relegate the niceties of the moral law to medical experts. It should be quite obvious that medical experts do not have competence to determine questions pertaining to the moral law. Medical experts can only supply us the raw data in order to help moral theologians come to the correct conclusions about what is right and wrong in particular situations. Please do not abnegate your responsibility to fill in the details; it is crucial in this day of ever-advancing technology that you do not do so.

    I often see this situation occur in the context of abortion. For instance, a termination of an ectopic pregnancy is an abortion; but in addition to being justified by invoking the principle of double effect, it is justified on the principle of medical necessity. It is precisely the determination of ‘medical necessity’ that must be unpacked in exquisite detail if we are going to be able to determine when, in fact, it is moral, and to what degree moral, to take an innocent human life, in particular situations.

    It is our failure to accomplish this task, I think, that stands in the way of more productive discussion on the issue of abortion in the political realm. Given our lack of enthusiasm for engaging in the details [and certainly, the task is not an easy one], the pro-choice people are able to fall back upon a simple principle: since pregnancy affects the mother more than anyone else, she should have complete discretion about what to do about her pregnancy.

    We who do not think that a pregnant woman should have unfettered discretion in relation to her pregnancy ought to be able to put forward with greater detail our moral reasons as applied to some truly serious medical situations. The present crisis in Ireland is due in part to our failure to do this, I think.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Tab. You’re correct. Thank you for that challenge. I needed to be reminded of that. Ill begin studying medicinal marijuana.

      • yan

        Awesome. May God guide you in your search and in your understanding. Please share with us what you find. God bless, Dr.

    • Clyde

      Yan: “…terminationation of an ectopic pregnancy is an abortion…”. You raise a critical issue here, not only on the pro-life vs pro-abortion front, but as it concerns those who are devasted by having surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. It is not an abortion. Here’s why, as explained by the surgeon who performed one on a close friend of mine, who, while trying for years to have a child, suffered several ectopic pregnancies. “We (surgeons) are NOT (my emphasis, his words) performing an abortion. We are not trying to kill the baby; on the contrary, we are trying to save the baby (yes, he used the word baby, not embryo). A baby can not survive in the tube. We are trying to transfer it into the uterus where it needs to be in order to survive. Unfortunately, we’re not good at it yet and are still incapable of doing it with the baby surviving. If the objective was to abort the baby, even while it is in the tube, we would be using a different procedure. We are not trying to (kill, abort, terminate) the baby, we are trying to move it.” This is vital information on many counts. First, for the consolation of the parents involved, some of whom would very literally rather die than have their baby “aborted”. N.B. St. Gianna Molla, who was an ob gyn herself! Also for the reputation of the Dr’s, as well as for preventing the lie from scandalizing. Pro-abortionists like to misuse these surgeries as examples of cases where abortions are performed for the health of the mother and where the mother’s life is threatened. But this is a good example of their oft-used technique of presenting half-truths. The mother’s life is in jepordy. That’s the true part. But that’s where their truth ends. The lie begins when the misrepresent it as being an abortion.

      • yan

        Interesting. I am not aware that the ending of an ectopic pregnancy implies an attempted transference to the uterus. Having heard a very pro-life doctor speak on this matter, I am highly doubtful that you are factually correct.

        We may quibble about the word abortion, but I don’t think that profits us. Many Church theologians say that ending an ectopic pregnancy is justifiable by recourse to the principle of double effect. That may be so, though I am not yet personally convinced, because there is no guarantee that an ectopic pregnancy will not actually come to term. Such cases are very rare, but they do happen.

        But what can be said with certainty is that in no case of which I am aware did a surgical action in reference to an ectopic pregnancy result in a live fetus. Thus, in an operation on an ectopic pregnancy, a child’s life is ended. Saying that this is not an abortion is redefining the word abortion in a manner that is not only convenient for us, but which makes it more difficult for us to dialogue with those who believe that the mother should have all discretion in regard to the life of her child.

        • Clyde

          Yan: So your response ” Having heard a very pro-life doctor speak on this matter, I am highly doubtful that you are factually correct.” is effectively calling the surgeon I heard from, and/or me a liar. Because you are “not aware …” Have a good evening.

          • yan

            No need to get upset. It is a simple fact question. Sometimes doctors say things to patients that are not entirely true, for bedside manner reasons. Or you may have only partly understood the surgeon. I am not calling anyone a liar.

            You admit that the doctor has never had any success with such an operation. Do you really think that the thousands of terminations of ectopic pregnancies which occur every year, year after year, in the United States are all failed attempts to transfer the child to the uterus? This would be too absurd to contemplate, and if the intention was as you say it is, then any doctor that attempted it, knowing that the failure rate is 100%, would be subject to legal liability.

            It may be that we will be able to do such a thing one day. Right now we cannot. You are simply deceiving yourself that, at present, this is an attempt to save the fetus. It is rather an attempt to save the mother.

      • yan

        Something else I think is interesting here is that the surgeon would go so far to say anything even close to what you say he said. Shows to me, I think, that perhaps the surgeon is extremely conflicted about the procedure which ends an ectopic pregnancy; so conflicted in fact that he would explain the procedure in a way that leads the hearer to think that he meant that he was only attempting to transfer the baby, which is medically absurd.

        For those who believe that invocation of the principle of double effect is sufficient to justify the termination of ectopic pregnancies, the conscience of this surgeon should give them pause.

  • JoeAllen

    The “experts” tell us that some forms of DEPRESSION are caused by a surplus of chemicals and/or a shortage of chemicals in the brain. This is why Zoloft and other medicines are sometimes prescribed for depression by Psychiatrists.

    I think alcohol and marijuana and other “drugs” are often used as self-medications for DEPRESSION.

  • Kenneth

    As a Thomist and proud Roman Catholic I have to admit I found this article to have some major flaws. The moral argument you outlined is really aimed at alcohol abuse and does not in any way show that marijuana is immoral. The article states that the more alcohol consumed the more animal like a person becomes. The article sites loss of motor skills etc etc as symptoms of this but really highlights the loss of intellect as the major reason for drunkenness being a sin. The obvious problem is this…. Do high people act at all like animals? Do they lose their motor skills? Slur their speech? I can drive, discuss philosophy, smoke a cig, and eat a taco all at the same time sober or high as a kite. The fact is that weed doesn’t really effect your intellect in a negative way. It doesn’t have any negative behavioral patterns (unlike alcohol) either except fit maybe laziness. The authors inexperience and naiveté hinder his reason. Recreational marijuana usage is less of a sin than smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, not working out, etc. On the thomistic view (natural law theory).

    In the peace of Christ-
    Kenneth

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      I disagree. I may not have smoked but I’ve been around those that do.

      Im not sure ‘ability to eat a taco’ is a Thomistic criterion for noetic functionality.

      • Kenneth

        Lol obviously the taco was a joke. The point is that the effects of drunkenness are so dramatically different than someone being high that it makes for a poor comparison. Lack of exercise or a bad diet in my view would constitute a more clear moral failure than the minimal loss of noetic functionality incurred by smoking weed.

    • Clyde

      Kenneth, yes, it does effect the behaviors you mention, and others. Once we are no longer under its influence, and are out from under its grips, we begin to see how we were blind to all of its debilitations. We see it more clearly for what it is. This is a big clue about its being sinful. Sin blinds us. Jesus really drives this point home. The blind lead the blind and they (all) fall into the pit. Guess that’s why it’s called “dope”!

  • https://www.facebook.com/TeriShrader Teresa “Teri” Shrader

    Great article, Dr. Taylor! I agree with you. I have smoked “pot” before. But, thankfully, even though I grew up in the generation right after the crazy 60′s (I graduated high school in 1977), I can count on one hand the number of times I smoked. I was also brought up by parents who were strict Protestants so we weren’t allowed to think drinking was ever OK either. Now I am glad! Thank you for addressing this! BTW, My daughter and son in law live in between Boulder and Denver, but neither of them are smoking pot for recreational purposes or otherwise, thank God! Both of their professions would not permit it but, thankfully they never got “stuck” in that phase.

  • Shannon Marie Federoff

    When my daughter had to be committed for her eating disorder (anorexia), it was suggested to the patients that marijuana would give them an appetite! Now THERE is a good use of pot!

    • Clyde

      Out of the frying pan & into the fire

  • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

    Hah!

  • Catinlap1

    How much pain have you ever been in? Especially severe, chronic, nerve pain from inoperable spinal injuries? Marijuana is a much milder, more natural pain antidote than the hard, destructive narcotics that that Big Pharma would like to get you addicted to.

    • Derenzopa

      I am in pain every single day of my life. I have chronic migraines, Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, widespread nerve pain and skeletal pain from an automobile accident. I take the least amount of medication possible to just make the pain manageable, but have found relief from water therapy, light exercise and daily Mass when possible (I have found that frequent use of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, give me strength and ease my pain). When I am having a bad day, I try to remember to offer up my suffering and pray for strength. There are alternatives to Marijuana and to narcotics that allow you to function and keep your faculties. I tried Marijuana three times as a teen, and all three times I thought I was “fine” when I was really impaired. It gives you a sense of almost invincibility, like you can see better, think better etc, which is not based I reality. One of the times I was convinced bugs were crawling all over me and all over the car in which I was riding. There are many studies linking chronic Marijuana use and schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses, along with other medical conditions. There is no way I would try to use Marijuana to “treat” my pain.

  • Ricardo

    Marijuana may have medicinal purposes, they may say that it is not addicting but I have seen many of my friends and relatives “graduate” from that to stronger drugs. Even those whom I know who took marijuana for a long time and stopped were never quite the same. Any mood altering drug will alter brain chemicals and dull the intellect and will. In fact since it’s been around for quite a long time and we’re still debating about it means that there must be something in it that isn’t quite right.

    • Dan

      I have witnessed people have panic attacks on their experience of marijuana. These were borderline traumatic episodes for the person, including physical illness. I think if pot does become legal throughout the United States that there should be disclaimers about the dangers of use–including the psychological dangers. People deserve to know what they’re getting in to. Legalization and easy availability could lead people to think that smoking is no big deal. They need to be informed of the extreme cases, including those where predisposed to schizophrenia were tipped into psychotic episodes because of marijuana use. That’s a BIG DEAL.

      • Cornman

        I would hardly consider anxiety or panic attacks as constituting ‘danger’. Anyone who has smoked cannabis is aware that large amounts of THC suddenly entering the brain can be an overwhelming experience for those unaccustomed to its effects. The large reduction in sensory information filtering by the brain combined with a dramatically increased awareness of ones thoughts and oneself can easily lead to anxiety and panic when in an unpleasant or threatening setting or mindset but these effects are short-lived and the person will return to normal in generally no longer than an hour or two. Interestingly enough, I have found that precisely this effect makes cannabis an excellent tool for learning to control ones thoughts and anxieties which can have many positive results whether under the influence of cannabis or not.

  • Tom

    This is an interesting article, but I don’t think Dr. Marshall makes his case. The argument is essentially as follows:

    Whatever inhibits the intellect is sinful.
    Smoking marijuana inhibits the intellect.
    Therefore, smoking marijuana is sinful.

    In support of the second premise, Dr. Marshall offers only his some limited anecdotal experience: he has never smoked marijuana but he has observed pot-smokers quite a bit at concerts and they were imparied. Thus, his argument really boils down to:

    Anything that impairs the intellect is sinful.
    I have observed pot smokers who have been intellectually impaired.
    Therefore, smoking pot impairs the intellect.

    That doesn’t follow.

    Dr. Marshall assumes that all pot smoking is equivalent to his experience of pot smokers as people with impaired reason. That is the fallacy of generalization. One may not reasonably conclude, from observing obviously impaired pot smokers, that all pot smoking equally impairs the intellect any more than one may reasonably conclude, from watching drunks, that all drinking impairs the intellect. As Dr. Marshall acknowledges, being drunk impairs the intellect, but not all drinking is being drunk. For all he knows, Dr. Marshall has interacted with people using marijuana and he hasn’t even known it.

    The truth is that some types and amounts of marijuana do not impair the exercise of the intellect, while other types and amounts may impair it quite a bit. Moreover, it can have different effects on different people. It seems to me that it is this very lack of predictability in the effects of marijuana that arguably makes smoking it imprudent, at least for many people. Still, I don’t think the Thomistic argument in the article holds water.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Take it from a professor of Logic, my argument doesn’t depend on my experience at a concert.
      That’s just anecdotal evidence which also tries to make the article fun. ;)
      The scientific fact is that THC impairs the human intellect. That’s why you can be convicted of a DUI with cannabis.

      • Tom

        I do appreciate the levity in the anecdotal evidence, but I don’t think it aids your argument. Incidentally, so you know where I’m coming from, I, too, am a father of 7–and a lawyer with degrees in philosophy and theology (emphasis on Thomistic thought)–and I have thought a lot about this issue, particularly as I’ve argued against pot use by some of my teenagers. I would be very interested in the evidence in support of your statement that it is a “scientific fact” that “THC impairs the human intellect.” The most current, objective, peer-reviewed studies I have been able to locate show that heavy use of marijuana from adolescence presents a quantifiable risk of impaired educational achievement as well as some risk of emotional instability, bronchitis, and a heightened risk of schizophrenia in later years where that is a genetic risk factor. But the same studies do not support the conclusion that there is any intellectual impairment from occasional use in non-adolescents. (See, e.g., Adverse Health Effects of Non-Medical Cannabis Use [Wayne Hall, Louisa Degenhardt, Lancet, 2009].) I think your statement begs the question but would be very happy to hear the non-anecdotal basis for it.

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  • Cassandra

    “If you’re going to pull a bullet from my arm and we have no painkillers, I’m getting drunk.”

    Geesh!! What has happened to Catholic manhood? Little seven year old St. Jacinta underwent an operation to remove two ribs with NO anesthesia and never whimpered. Here you’re going to start up a Catholic Boy Scouts to teach manhood, and you’ll wimp out on a little flesh wound?!!
    Lord, send us men.

    • Dan

      This might have just been a colorful way of making the point that it isn’t intrinsically wrong to use medicines for things like the dulling of pain. As far as I know, Doc Marshall is known to be critical of the general lack of manhood.

      That’s really remarkable about the lack of anesthesia in surgery of St. Jacinta.

  • Damien

    I have smoked a lot of cannabis in my time. I started in High School and stopped for a number of years because it was causing me problems. When I started up again I found that I didn’t have the same problems as before but I did have a budding faith. I constantly meditated on whether what I was doing was wrong. I never felt as though it was intrinsically wrong. While I was certainly altered, I was usually not intoxicated. I found that instead of demotivating me, cannabis motivated me. I found that I would be “paranoid” to do the wrong thing. So instead of sitting down and watching TV, it would feel better and more fulfilling to do chores or spend time with family. This paranoia would also flow into spiritual matters. I would pray, read and find materials to strengthen my faith all the time while under the influence. All of this was while I was floating around in non-denominational churches.

    One thing I could never get around in my mind though was the thought that I might be entertaining a potential scandal (not looking for any millstone necklaces) Cannabis certainly isn’t for everyone and I was far from being open about my use. Not to the point of explicit dishonestly but probably close enough to count. One thing that made it easy to justify this though was that I felt people didn’t really know what cannabis does to someone; after all everyone I knew had seen me “high” at one point or another and nobody had a clue. I was not wasting money on it, responsibility always came first and my wife was OK with it.

    Long story made a lil less long in my continuing search for the truth I found the Catholic Church. I actually felt (and continue to feel) comfort in the authority that says “No”. My struggle is over and while I don’t feel that I was addicted I have no doubt that it is the grace of God that has made my sudden secession quite easy. I have my rite of welcoming this Sunday and I can’t wait to partake of the Eucharist!

  • Chad Eberhart

    You have some things incorrect here, Clyde. Marijuana IS potentially addictive and it is NOT “inherently characteristically addictive”. Also, marijuana, unlike legal recreational drugs like nicotine, caffeine and alcohol is not physically addictive, though it can become psychological addictive. As you mentioned alcohol and marijuana derive from different “plants” but beer, which uses hops for their flavor and for their preservative qualities come from the same genera in the family of Cannabinaceae. This is why when you drink a particularly resinous IPA it will smell a lot like very good marijuana.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      When I grew hops in my backyard, I noticed that the leaves looked like marijuana. I hope my neighbors weren’t judging me!

      • Chad Eberhart

        I don’t follow.

      • Anthony David Yamada

        I hope my neighbors weren’t judging me! this is fundamentally a sin of the self, the me,

        worrying what the world thought of you, does it matter as the only one you should worry about being judged by is God

    • Cherie Deveraux

      Hops also has a calming/relaxing affect on the mind and body. I’ve used hops in conjunction with other mellowing herbals for teas and tinctures.

    • texas

      Marijuana has not been chemically altered as hops &barley have been to produce beer, or like poppy, which is also a natural plant, but has been chemically altered to produce heroin etc. Sugar and television can be addictive, as can anything we use to escape blah blah blah. The question is why is one smoking weed? ANYTHING THAT EXALTS ITSELF ABOVE THE LORD is wrong. To me, cannabis is a sensory enhancer…the medicinal qualities are numerous. ..check out Israel’s study of this plant that GOD CREATED. Why is it that a “Christian” (usually) doesn’t hesitate to take synthetic drugs,alot of which have horrible and deadly side effects, if the doctor prescribes it, but a natural remedy for so much, such as cannabis, is BAD? The government doesn’t want you to grow your own medicine. As a blood bought, spirit filled CHRISTIAN, I believe too much negative emphasis has been put on marijuana. People WAKE UP! GOD IS BIGGER THAN WEED. If marijuana use is not profitable to you, and it’s use is pulling you down the wrong road, then it is not profitable to you. But that IS NOT TO SAY that it is wrong. There is nothing in the Bible that says weed is wrong. It says to be sober in spirit. I have used cannabis to GET OFF of legal, pharmaceutical drugs,which were prescribed to me to help certain conditions

      • dude

        I completely agree. .. also it mentions in Genesis 1:29 that god said”behold for I have made every seed bearing plant on the whole earth for you my people”

      • Anthony David Yamada

        it has been altered to yield stronger strains of THC though.

  • Chad Eberhart

    RC I think you need to brush up on your drug knowledge. I think if you do a cursory look at the studies out there you’ll find a lot of what you believe to be inconclusive, no more harmful than legal drugs or outright false.

  • Dave

    Great article Dr. Marshall, and I am enjoying the discussion. My two cents. The long term effects of cannibus are obviously disputed, the short term effects on the intellect are inconclusive as well. At this point we are relegated to the level of opinion regarding the effects of its use. So the real question think is making a correct moral decision. It seems to me, outside of the medical uses previously stated, the only prudent decision is to be patient and abstain.

    We have to consider the ability of science to study the effects of substances on the body. We have not tapped into this potential yet and as a result we struggle to find information about all our important questions outside of the opinions of non-professional observers and former or current users. These opinions have relevance for sure, but are not worthy of a person’s decision making in the modern world. In short, I am of the strong opinion that there is currently an unacceptable level of moral certainty concerning the effects of cannibus on the human body and soul to justify its recreational use by honest Catholics. Furthermore, the drug quality is poorly regulated across the board. There certainly is the potential that in the future we will find that well regulated production could yield a product that is scientifically verified to not cause long term cognitive deficits or other health problems, and similar to alcohol with morally acceptable effects on the intellect in small doses. We just don’t know to an acceptable standard at this point

  • robert chacon

    I don’t know but it seems pretty simple to me. I believe anything that alters our mind, confuses our rationality, and lowers our inhibitions is morally suspect because it enables the occasion for sin. All this talk about whether its harmful to the “temple of God”, the body, is really moot because the effects of marijuana are mind altering. Furthermore, the notion that because it can help some people relax it is therefore therapeutic and thus justifiable can also be an immoral argument. In California the medical marijuana laws are so ridiculously vague that any complaint of anxiety gets one a medical excuse to smoke. While extreme biological sources of anxiety and depression can require medications to treat these disabilities, regular run of the mill cases of anxiety and worry should not justify self medicating for one simple reason – it means we don’t rely on God for our fears and the true source of our joy. And it is this last argument that I believe is the real sin of intoxication of any kind, whether is alcohol or marijuana; they are not the answers to the real issues we face. One side issue regarding the comparison between alcohol and marijuana. I can drink a glass of wine or beer without the slightest sensation of intoxication. I may be technically altered but I feel nothing, and my intent is not to get drunk, but to enjoy the taste of a good wine or beer. I may be deluding myself , but I people do enjoy the taste of each. When one smokes I believe the intent is simply to get high. Just my own understanding. As a non smoker of marijuana who has in fact tried it, I have never thought I would enjoy the taste or sensation of smoke in my mouth and throat. But others may. Am I that far off on my understanding of Church teaching on the matter?

    • Damien

      So would you say that drinking coffee is a sin because it is mind altering? Many people drink coffee with the intent of altering their minds. I’m not trying to be a smart aleck here I’m genuinely curious. Personally I feel that cannabis can be less intoxicating than caffeine and that was a source of confusion for me.

    • Cornman

      After reading the first half of your post I was surprised to read that you have in fact consumed cannabis as your description of its effects is atypical of its usual effect on people including myself. Firstly, there is nothing you can consume, drug or otherwise, that does not in any way alter your mind. The mind is in a constant state of alteration and when not in said state we generally use the words “coma” and “death” as descriptors. Secondly, I have not found cannabis to significantly confuse rationality unless taken in excessively high doses, the effect thereof which I personally find unpleasant and overwhelming and therefore I do not intake enough cannabis to reach said state of impairment. Thirdly and most notably, I cant speak for everyone but I have known a lot of cannabis users, myself included and I have personally never witnessed it having the effect of lowering ones inhibitions in the slightest. On the contrary I find that it almost invariably leads to a HEIGHTENING of ones inhibitions such that one affected by the psychoactive terpenoids in cannabis tends to be much more reserved, quiet and much less impulsive than while sober and especially while drunk or buzzed on alcohol (which of course has the exact opposite effect). I see ones level of inhibition, self-control and ability to rationally use judgement as a spectrum with being stoned on cannabis at one extreme (very inhibited, self-conscious, attention-avoiding, risk-avoiding, quiet, thought over action) and being wasted on alcohol at the other extreme (uninhibited, unaware of self, attention-seeking, risk-taking, loud, action over thought) with 100% sobriety being somewhere in the middle. This in my experience is true nearly 100% of the time with the vast majority of people. An interesting point I’d like to add: I have noticed that the same kind of unpleasant situation one may find themselves in while being the only one sober around many drunks can also be attained by being the only one stoned around many sober people (others too loud, too unpredictable, etc). Now being stoned around drunks can truly be torturous. (or hilarious as it becomes clear how truly idiotic drunk people can be).

  • Skysix

    I don’t know about this. Eating just about anything affects your intellectual faculty. I agree with what you said at one point but then seemed to apply unreservedly to marijuana. I do not think marijuana always inhibits the intellect to the point of irrationality any more than alcohol or other foods (think sugar!) do. There are many other factors to weigh in determining the sinful nature of these acts.

  • BlueMtn Traveler

    Fascinating discourse on THC. I just returned with my wife from vacation/teaching mission in Jamaica. As a serious convert to the faith, I wanted to avoid the “ganja” as I have a hx. with using substances to manage difficult emotional experiences, instead of fully trusting God. But I must admit, in an environment where,the paradox of undescribable natural beauty and the sufferings of Christ shrouded in human poverty are on such display, I found myself wondering if the “herb” I smelled everywhere was another of Gods natural Gifts to an impoverished people, like the coconut or acci fruit. Luckily, I had another Thomas, Thomas Merton with me on the trip. For me it comes down to attachment. As Merton says, I do not detach from the things of creation to attach to God, as if they are in competition, but I detach from the False Self so that I can see all things as God intended them. So the question I would ask myself before lighting my “herb stalk” (as Marley sings) is, Is this a way to serve my own needs, or am I experiencing God through this action. I was aware of my sinful tendancy toward attachment, and this kept me from partaking, and I opened myself up to a new level of appreciating the natural beauty around me, and experiencing Christ in the least of them. A 7 year old Jamaican boy sang a line from a song that sums it up for me. “Some want silver, some want gold, but I want Jesus in My Soul.” Gods Blessings

  • Dan

    There does seem to exist a kind of “weed” culture out there. I used to be vaguely on the fringes of it. Some of these folks have as their major political issue and purpose in life the legalization of marijuana. Is the issue that important? Some say it would reduce crime and bondage to the legal system. But is that the overriding concern of “weed activists”? Or is it their own right to smoke?

    My experience with marijuana has been that regular use shrinks one’s world down to the room he is in. While I started out enjoying fantastic music while stoned, I soon devolved into the stereotype of sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips and watching t.v–or just going to sleep in the middle of the day. How common is this?

    Are there any “weed activists” out there who don’t smoke? Has smoking pot on a regular basis caused their lives to revolve around pot and their right to smoke it?

    That doesn’t sound mind-expanding to me. It sounds mind-constricting.

    Again–I hope these posts don’t sound hostile. Somebody has to play the part of advocating sobriety and substance-free living.

    • nats

      so how did u overcome it dan?

  • Dominic Canis

    Three Important Points:

    1.) The high from smoking weed may be graduated in the same manner as alcohol.

    2.) Additionally, the effects of these substances on the body are all different insofar as they are infused with different natural and occult virtues. For instance, alcohol suppresses rational choice and incites the passions. Marijuana, however, cools the passions and stimulates the intellect. This is observable from experience and even asserted in eastern medical traditions such as Chinese herbalism.

    Furthermore, these substances (in unchaining us from certain internal energies and heightening others) tend to move us according to the habituated orientations we have already developed in life. In other words: if your highest goods lie on the level of creature comforts… then yes, you’re going to watch South Park and eat cheetos when you get high (which isn’t to say that this is necesarily a bad thing to do from time to time). However, if you function at a higher level, then perhaps you will engage in philosophy with your friends or spend time in contemplation. It is highly relative to the person, their disposition, habits and virtues, and education. Similarly for alcohol: not everyone turns into Jersey Shore. I’ve had many fine evenings of culture being “Merry of Heart.”

    You clearly grasp this latter point about alcohol. The same holds true for marijuana.

    3.) MOST IMPORTANTLY:

    One thing you MUST understand is the difference between intellect and rationality. They are not the same, and it is an error in most contemporary understandings of Aquinas to associate the two as the same thing. A close reading of De Veritate’s Q22 and 24, Summa Theologica I, Q82-83, De Malo 6, and the relevant sections of Summa Contra Gentiles, and Aquinas’ writings on the soul and his commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics reveals that “rationality” lies in the complex causal interection between the formal causal power of the intellect (from which rational action is conceived and proceeds as a plan; c.f. Aristotle, Metaph IX; De Malo 6) and the final-efficient causal power of the will (which in determining the means to the end determines the end as well; c.f. comm Metaphysics V, wherein Aquinas also explains Avicenna’s four modes of efficient cause: perfective, dispositive, auxiliary, advisory which causality the intellect participates in through council). Rationality, therefore, falls upon the act of the will in ‘choice’ in its primary predication insofar as it is a power open to and capable of producing contraries. Rationality is ascribed to the intellect secondarily as the sine-qua-non principle in that it accounts for the undetermined action of the will to proceed according to ‘art’ as opposed to arbitrariness. This is essentially the metaphysical position of John Duns Scotus, who is incorrectly opposed to Aquinas (Scotus’ prime interlocutors were Henry of Ghent and Geoffery of Fontaines, who thoroughly skewed the Aristotelian philosophy coming into Europe; Scotus occasionally addresses Aquinas as an objector, but their disagreement on rationality comes from the fact that Scotus focuses on the ‘potential for contraries’ in Aristotle’s Metaphysics IX whereas Aquinas emphasizes the ‘rational plan’ or ‘art’ aspect of rational action. However, both acknowledge both aspects of rationality; c.f. De Veritate, q22, a5, ad contra 5 ; Summa Theologica I-II, q10, a2).

    Therefore, if your premise is that an intoxicant – good for conviviality – becomes sinful once it begins to diminuate rationality and making us more animal (not that our animal part is bad, it is merely wounded by original sin, which turns it inward on itself instead of expressing proper relationality towards God and neighbor) – a premise I agree with – then you need to focus on the decision-making aspect, not merely the intellectual. Indeed, both marijuana and alcohol can stimulate intellectual pursuits and supremely rational activity; however, beyond a certain point of moderation (which varies on an individual basis – c.f. Nicomachean ethics) the virtue of imbibing such substances becomes a vice (as with all things that are possessed of the True and Good but of moral neutrality).

    Rational functionality also has a third dimension, which is the affective dynamic of love – and this is not discursive nor necessarily dependent on the intellect (the will is higher than the intellect regarding divine things because these cannot be known, but may be loved; and to love is higher than to know – it is only regarding things inscribed in Being that the intellect enjoys greater nobility; Summa Theologica I, q82, a3).

    Ultimately, it is the imitation of Christ Crucified (which encompasses the entire humanity of Christ) which is the most truly rational action.

    (c.f. Bonaventure’s Itinerarium Mentis in Deum for how we leave the world of knowing behind and come to this understanding; see Wayne Hellmann’s appendix to J.M. Hammond’s Divine and Created Order in Bonaventure’s Theology).

    Thanks for writing. And thanks for reading.

    P.S. In all likelihood, Jesus used cannabis medicinally, ritually, and recreationally… just like he did alcohol. It’s a beautiful plant.

    • Dave

      Great comments Dominic. I would be interested to hear how Christ would have used cannabis ritually. Likewise, I think your post lacks the evidence necessary to support premises 1 and 2. Although I don’t doubt you might be able to present some? Otherwise I found the comments well supported and edifying.

      • Dominic Canis

        Thanks, Dave.

        Point #1 is an argument from my own experience, as well as the many people I know who are highly intellectual, rational, creative individuals who smoke (I live in CA and 100% legally obtain it). The nature of marijuana is such that one experiences a gradient of intoxication from one hit to many, similar to the gradient of intoxication one experiences between one drink and many. Granted, it is a different kind of intoxication; however, think back to your first times drinking and finding out what your limit is. It takes time to learn how to maintain being ‘Merry of Heart’ through the night without crossing the line into ‘drunk as a skunk.’ Marijuana has similar thresholds which require experience and experimentation.

        Regarding this period of experimentation and gaining experience, marijuana is actually safer from a physiological standpoint than alcohol. Alcohol poisoning is serious. THC overdose is unheard of. THC may exacerbate underlying psychological conditions, but then again so may alcohol (you might not know you’re an angry drunk until you actually get drunk). Additionally, different strains of marijuana emphasize different effects – the differences between them are more pronounced than a simple ‘beer drunk vs. whiskey drunk’ – and this may also color peoples’ experiences of the drug for good or ill.

        My considerations, however, are concerned with the median experience of marijuana ingestion and while I acknowledge outliars and adverse reactions to the plant, I do not think they should enter into a discussion into the morality of the plant per-se and its societal/cultural uses – just as one would not condemn alcohol from the mere fact that there are people who do abuse it or react adversely. The better argument is that those people should abstain from use rather than advocating prohibition of the substance altogether.

        If you do not maintain that marijuana affects people on a gradient of intoxication proportional to the amount consumed, then your argument is that any amount of marijuana ‘breaks’ your rationality enough for it to be immediately sinful as soon as you feel the intoxicating effect regardless of intensity. This seems to be the more difficult position to hold and seems at variance with common sense.

        Point #2 is doing two things.

        First, it is making an important distinction: alcohol and marijuana are two different things – as are cocaine, opium, etc, etc. They can be understood in relation to one another analogously through their nature as intoxicants, but they cannot and should not be conflated. For instance: opium is not heroin, cocaine is not crack, wheat is not wonderbread. With the refining process, you change and intensify certain properties – as with distilling liquor from mash. One must be aware of the nature of a thing before accurate judgment can be levied.

        The claims about the virtues of various substances may be observed internally. I pulled the thing about Chinese herbalism from a friend’s Materia Medica; she’s studying oriental medicine… so hear-say evidence, I suppose… but you can look it up. Nevertheless, I think it’s fairly observable that alcohol elevates the passions and diminishes inhibition. Conceived according to classical or medieval faculty-psychology, this amounts to giving the reigns to one’s dark horse (Phaedrus allusion) and slackening the hold on the good horse. The result will depend on the state of your soul.

        Virtue and habituation are an important part of action theory, some going as far to say that perfection in the practice of virtue results in a ‘second nature’ (which occurs through repeated practice of virtuous action, i.e. habituation; conversely we may also habituate ourselves to vice). It seems logical that if rationality is diminished, we will act according to our nature. Rationality partly consists in always being able to choose the right or the good despite our particular inclinations or disposition at the moment. When rationality is surrendered or weakened, all we have left are our inclination and disposition, as they are moderated by our virtues and habits.

        An action repeated is easier than something you’ve never done before, and we tend to be creatures of habit who take on mannerisms and familiar ways of acting. Therefore, if you are intoxicating yourself such that rationality is diminished or surrendered, it seems reasonable to assume that you will behave in a manner in accordance with the nature you have shaped for yourself (although not necessarily). Those who have no practice in forming virtue will go where their energies naturally lead them (like water running down hill – and eventually it will carve a channel whereby the energies reach that point more efficiently). Those who have practiced virtue and built good habits find themselves with a series of canals through which their energies can easily pass through, not necessarily sending those energies to base or animal activities.

        In short: if one removes rationality, one is left with brute nature. Therefore, the state of one’s nature needs be taken into consideration when contemplating the morality of consuming an intoxicant liable to alter one’s rational faculties. Because whilst intoxicated, one is inclined to act brutish – that is, according to familiar and instinctual patterns of behavior, learned or otherwise.

        I hope that helps, I’m just kind of riffing at this point and I don’t want to get into faculty psychology or virtue theories at the moment. Within the Thomistic context, just check out ST I-II where Aquinas lays out his philosophical anthropology. His model more or less gets the job done, although I think he’s a little too Aristotelian still.

        For anyone who isn’t aware, newadvent has all of the summa theologica up online, and dhspriory has a ton of Aquinas translated into English.

        • Dominic Canis

          A speculative addendum to my conjecture that marijuana cools the passions and stimulates the intellect:

          The intellect moves the will by showing it a good to be desired. The will, as an appetite, pursues what the intellect presents to it. It may do this of its own volition or in accordance with the lower powers of the soul. When the lower powers and appetites concur with the intellectual appetite, the impetus for action is great. When they are in conflict, action becomes difficult since the will as the seat of agency is torn between objects. When there is an absence of passionate desire, the will does not move as readily as when there is passionate desire.

          Apply this to the observation of marijuana decreasing motivation. If it is a substance that cools the passions, then it will also reduce the latent motivation in the body residing in those passions.

          The observation that marijuana stimulates the intellect is corollary to this because, unencumbered by the distraction of passionate desire (remember, the Desert Fathers strove to reach impassibility regarding their desires), the intellect is free to think and contemplate. However, the intellect must be directed by the will. This is why many people, when high, resort to mindless entertainment. The intellect is going, with nothing to distract it, but if you don’t know what to do with such freedom in the absence of desire, you’re still going to have to find an activity to occupy you.

          It really resolves into an issue of self-mastery at this point, because the intellect does not function as a rational potency except when it is being directed by the will. Given sufficient conditions, the intellect cannot help but perform its act of thinking in the way that the eye, given sufficient conditions (i.e. light and an object) cannot help to see. The intellect advances by its acts from simple apprehension to judgment, to reasoning by syllogism. All of these acts proceed according to nature, not according to art or rationality. This is proved by the fact that the acts of the intellect all ought to be reducible to first principles and that, given correct first principles, all conclusions can theoretically be reasoned to intellectually.

          Thus, given a natural power without the direction of the will, it will act in the most natural way possible (c.f. habituation, virtues, etc…).

          I would hazard that most people are driven mostly by their passions. This is not to put a negative connotation on passionate motivation. Passions are good, they are ordered towards desirable, pleasurable, and useful goods. We naturally derive motivation from them. And everyone knows what it’s like to work up the self-motivation for a task that we aren’t particularly inspired about (be it writing a paper despite writer’s block, or working out when it’s cold out and you’re still tired and sore from yesterday). It’s difficult, but not impossible.

          The same can be said for accomplishing tasks while high from marijuana. Moreover, just like disciplining one’s self to write or exercise regardless of the conditions makes doing so easier over time, so to does exercising the will in the absence of strongly passionate desire when high. Again, self-mastery.

    • Tom

      I thought your post was helpful and insightful…until your post script. Do you have evidence for the suggestion of a likelihood that Jesus used cannabis medicinally, ritually and recreationally?

      • Dominic Canis

        The post-script was somewhat tongue in cheek, although that plant has been around and in use in the middle east ever since the Scythians mastered riding on horseback. It was used religiously as an ingredient in oils for anointing (THC is fat soluble) in the region, and has enjoyed medicinal use even in the west up until the 1930-40s. I don’t have direct evidence that Jesus actually utilized it, but it seems probable.

        I’m a medievalist, not a scholar of the time surrounding Christ; however, if it was around and used at the time then the likelihood that Jesus used it increases once the moral goodness of its use is established (the use of alcohol is morally good for conviviality; i think the same holds within responsible parameters for marijuana).

        I’ve seem people make the claim that marijuana is mentioned in the bible under other names as an ingredient in ritual preparations the same way that frankincense and myrrh are used… but this is not something I’m prepared to argue. It was mostly to get a response ;)

        Jesus was a historical human as well as the Son of God; therefore, he probably participated in the social and cultural gathering rituals of his time. If marijuana was a part of that, then… etc.

  • Guest

    My comment was here, now it’s gone… uwha-? No hyperlinks and what I thought was at least an average use of philosophy… O_o

  • Hunter

    Are you for real?

    How do people still talk like this!?

  • Albert Drake

    It seems to me that pot and alcohol are different in the way they alter one’s perception of truth. A drunkard usually knows that his inflated self esteem is temporal. But under the influence of marihuana one could more likely believe to have reached a ‘deeper level of conscienseness’. What did me quit smoking long ago was the thought that God grants me the ability to be in touch with reality and that smoking seperated me from that reality. I believe that willfully separating oneself from truth is sinful and unhealthy. I would not be surprised if saint Thomas has something to say about that.

    • Cornman

      While I agree with you that it is wrong and unhealthy to separate oneself from the truth, I do not necessarily agree that all drug use has this effect. To assume that what one experienced was somehow “false” or not part of “reality” simply because one was under the influence of a drug is a very dismissive view to have and in my experience, not one based in reality to begin with but rather a set of pre-conceived notions passed down by others about what reality SHOULD be according to their personal value system and most of all the prevailing worldview of the population from which this line of thinking originated. This view also assumes that total sobriety is the state is which the most objectively “real” reality is experienced. While this seems reasonable to most of us initially, it is COMPLETELY FALSE according to not only scientific studies but also many of the worlds top physicists and philosophers as well as many religions (those who practice meditation certainly wouldn’t consider meditative experiences to be false or unreal even though the mind is in a highly altered state while deeply meditating). The thing that most people don’t understand is that reality is not a static, objective entity that we each simply passively observe as if watching a movie, but it is the product of the universe and its interaction with our consciousness that produces what each of us calls “reality” and which is a SUBJECTIVE reality by definition (without a conscious subject there is no reality). Therefore, because reality is individually generated as each of our consciousnesses interacts in its own way with the physical universe and not a pre-existing thing that we each simply observe, REALITY = EXPERIENCE. What you hallucinate while tripping on mushrooms is no less real than the ground you stand on while sober, its simply not the reality those around you are experiencing (unless they also took mushrooms). The fact that groups of people tripping on psychedelics very often share identical hallucinations further strengthens my argument. (since all minds are in a similar state, albeit highly altered, each mind’s interaction with the universe is similar as well, and each person observes the same “reality” not simply because they are tripping, but because while in said altered mindset, that is the reality produced as the consciousness interacts with the universe. Proximity to other consciousnesses observing the same reality also strongly reinforces ones own perception of said reality.) What we commonly refer to as “reality” is simply a small area where the product of consciousness-universe interaction of the majority of people intersect, causing it to appear constant and objectively “real”. My observation that odd or paranormal activities seem to be witnessed much more frequently while alone (especially isolated from others) I believe supports my above theory. (Your possible “reality” has many more possible variants when not forced to align with that of another conscious being.). I believe this is strongly related to the idea of FAITH which I believe is ones level of ability to influence the universe with the consciousness, thereby changing REALTY. This also means that the larger the number of observers of ones consciousness affecting the universe, the more FAITH is required to accomplish it. Even walking requires faith, albeit very little, since our faith in each others ability to do so means we each alone need not exercise much at all. When in the presence of doubtful people, more faith is required to complete an action. When an action is not completed successfully, faith is diminished and doubt increased

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  • Cerebro

    Dear Author:
    Alcohol from its very beginning is a drink to celebrate; Noah made wine to celebrate the end of the flood and God’s first covenant with man, namely the rainbow. Also, alcohol is a cultural substance not an illegal drug that is contrary and revolutionary to culture as it has existed for centuries in Western Civilization. When alcohol becomes present in the bloodstream it easily passes through the blood-brain bearrier (sic) and begins to interact with serotonin in the pre-frontal cortex lowering inhibitions, which does not effect our ability, in doses tolerated by an individual according to consumption practices and body mass, our ability to reason. Just because someone is drunk it does not hinder his conscience from making morally acceptable decisions; a drunkard can still be convicted of first-degree murder. Alcohol way weaken our will, but only in dangerous quantities will it diminish our intellect. The Angelic Doctor says that only our will is corrupted by original sin, which at times can cloud our intellect. There is more information that could be cited, but this information should satisfy the subject
    Marijuana is an herb that originates in the Americas, not in Europe, and is essentially a weed. It is classified as a cannabinoid which has the features of a narcotic and a hallucinogen. The psycho-active substance in marijuana is THC and is the cause of the high. According to the FDA, which has completed a plethora of studies on THC, there is no known medical benefit of THC. Contrary to modern belief, marijuana contains 300 times more tar and carcinogens than tobacco. Furthermore, continued use of marijuana leads to ir-reaverseable and very hard to treat psychosis on account of its hallucinogenic properties caused by, what is essentially, brain damage. Early onset dementia based on marijuana use, would be the clinical diagnosis. Neither alcohol nor nicotine could cause this horrific state.
    Semper et saepe, do research before writing any article. The devil is in your details, or lack of them. Know that I am not trying to insult or offend you, but be careful when writing on any topic that refer to illegal drug use.
    Yours in Christ;
    Cerebro

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      “Contrary to modern belief, marijuana contains 300 times more tar and carcinogens than tobacco.”

      Wow, that’s terrible. That alone confirms that marijuana is bad news.

      • Dominic Canis

        Cerebro’s information comes from a biased 1970s study and is incorrect. That information is part of anti-marijuana and pro-tobacco propaganda – which we all know the FDA was complicit in (if not actively helping) for many many years.

        • Tom

          I agree, Dominic. It seems there’s some confirmation bias occurring here.

  • J.J. T.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church does say that drug abuse is a grave sin so I already knew marijuana was sinful.

  • Sam

    This was my first time ever reading nearly all comments on an article. Very insightful. I suppose my biggest question is regarding sorcery and the pharmacy connection mentioned in Galatians. When I smoked weed in the past (do not smoke anymore) I know for sure it felt if I entered into a different world. I felt my Christianity were challenged by demonic forces, and heard all types of voices. With that being said, I also grew in my faith like NEVER before. I was forced to pray hard…VERY HARD!!!! I became a Christian at the age of 16 (I’m 36 now) and got high for the first time at the age of 35. I smoked everyday up to 4 times a day. When I first started, I was in a backslidden and it seemed to escalate my evil desires. But faced with eternal damnation, God turned my heart towards Him once again. I started reading the Bible more than ever, and I understood more. I truly felt the presence of God in ways I never did before. But I became a drunkard if you would, in that I felt like I “needed” it to function. I knew that aspect of it was bad, along with it’s debilitating effects. So I went from smoking 4 times a day to none at all.
    As I reflect on my usage, I believe it can be likened to the “Tree of Good and Evil”. When I was evil, evil was multiplied, and when I was good, good was multiplied. Some of my absolute fondest memories as a Christian came while I was high, and yet my deepest, most challenging, and fearful…downright evil moments came while I was high. I believe it’s much easier to be led astray by demonic forces when one is high, but also much easier to feel closer to God. Which leads to my ultimate question….Is it wrong to seek closeness to God via a plant that He created? Paul told Timothy to drink “a little” wine for his frequent illnesses. Is it ok to smoke a little weed for my illnesses. On a side note, I’m surprised no one touched on the fact that the local liquor store is often referred to as WINES AND SPIRITS.

  • TKHughes

    While I find your article to be balanced, it I not as clear as it could be. I think that the article would have been clearer from the beginning if you had specified the basic moral theology teaching that it is the act which can be immoral, not the natural creation (thing being used or acted upon) which is immoral. Right up front, you would have stated: “The thing, naturally occurring alcohol or cannabis, is not immoral in and of itself; but the act of using these things could be judged as immoral based upon the intended or achieved result.”

  • Pingback: Taylor Marshall on Drinking and Marijuana | Letters to the Catholic Right

  • Allen

    As far as the question “Does marijuana deaden the intellect?” is concerned, it needs to be rephrased: Can marijuana possibly deaden the intellect? The answer to that question is easy: Yes. Does marijuana necessarily deaden the intellect? Another easy answer: No. In fact, it can stimulate and exercise the intellect in positive ways. Necessarily? No, not necessarily. But potentially? Yes.

    Should the Church categorically condemn the use of marijuana? No. The Church should continue doing what it has always done: teach that the individual must personally reject all things which inhibit his or her practice of love and the other virtues and endorse all things which promote the same. Seeing that, in the case of marijuana, this is different for each individual, it must remain within the discretion of the individual.

  • guestguy

    Uh well now, I disagree. I personally know many who do drugs (though I don’t do ‘em myself). I think of one person in particular who is a very smart man and does drugs, his thinking never gets blurry. I am not against alcohol, I am against getting drunk; I am not against recreational drugs, I am against getting so high you can’t think straight.

  • Sarah Frasier

    I fully disagree, sorry to nay-say, but marijuana certainly does not inhibit creative thinking. Quite the opposite, in fact. I do apologize to anyone who has had personal struggles with drugs and addiction, and I in no way mean to slight anyone’s personal experience, but marijuana has been proven to not be habit forming for most people (absolutely nothing is 100% for all users. I mean, some people are allergic to mangoes, an otherwise harmless fruit). From my experience, for those that ended up moving on to harder drugs after smoking pot, it is a predisposition to addiction, or emotional issues or both at hand, not marijuana itself. It would surprise you to know how many “normal” people smoke pot in the same way that you might enjoy a tasty beer or glass of wine; it is the lack of control in limiting yourself, and instead becoming fully intoxicated that is sinful, not the plant itself.

    Seriously though, while you can collect information and research others’ experiences, how on Earth can you have an ultimately decisive opinion if you yourself admit to having no experience with it?

    • Sarah Frasier

      Also, I just now read the comments and I’m not arguing a point that hasn’t already been made, so it looks as though I’m stirring the pot. Not my intention.

      I’d like to add-
      Of course the Beatles or other musicians had musical talent without pot! If it were a magic potion that gave us talents we don’t have while not under the influence, it’d be the biggest breakthrough…EVER! That’s not what it’s about, though. Pot “tunes you in”, so to speak, and helps to focus on the creative process at hand, that’s why so many musicians and artists like it. Heck, a friend of mine used it to study when she was in school to be a dental hygienist, and she graduated top of her class. People certainly will have different physical reactions, as they will with various other medicinal substances.

      Tell me this, besides legality, what’s the difference between pharmaceutical drugs and “safe” recreational ones, i.e. alcohol and marijuana? Geez…pot has fewer adverse effects than every anti-anxiety/depression medication that exists!

      • Sarah Frasier

        Wait…one more thing!

        If we are to argue that the personal traits that lead to creativity are natural to the individual and not at all influenced by psychotropic substances, can’t the same arguement be made that individuals who’s lives were less productive than a perceived potential were/are, in fact, naturally underachieving? I’m in no way trying to insult, so forgive me if it does, but hear the point: it does good to admit that perhaps WE are solely responsible for our shortcomings, as opposed to blaming and scapegoating a substance that can easily be well tolerated by countless others.

        Again, to some, it MAY VERY WELL make them become lazy or uninspired, this is certainly true, but this cannot be said of all people and should not then make the substance itself a sin to partake in.

  • Stopexcuses

    I am A Orthodox Christian
    I have a family member who is a Alcholic and I also have been dealing with a whole family on my husbands side who has smoked pot there whole lives.
    Both are horrible
    There is no such thing as smoke a little Pot. That’s a joke. I have seen it all first hand destroy our family because we don’t want our family around it. They act like fools on it.
    Also alcholism is no better
    Especially those who don’t know when to stop.

  • Dale Cole Summers

    I believe you hit it right on the head, as a pain reliever it is great , but don’t abuse it.

  • vincetravia spivey

    marijuana enlite the intellect one who become inhabit already was thus one who was already enlite already was

  • James Jeffery

    Alcohol for me makes me violent. In fact I got so drunk the other day that my thoughts were consumed by murder. My girlfriend had to stay at her friends because I was acting strange. I was lucky I didn’t give myself alcohol poisoning the amount I drank. I am also a Christian, and I fell off the path BIG TIME! I am thankful for this experience because I will never touch alcohol again. God showed me the bad side to alcohol to ensure I never return to it. Thank you God. Now, marijuana is a totally different ball game. You can not compare alcohol to marijuana. Apples and oranges here. Smoking marijuana in reasonable amounts actually enhances my ability. I’m a computer programmer, and often times I need concentration, and rational thinking. Marijuana increases my concentration and rational thinking. I am never angry or violent when I smoke marijuana. This argument boils down to what “people” think is bad and what is good. Let God show you the way. Pray. We all have opinions on what God thinks in issues like this one, but only God can put you right. I smoke, and I will continue to smoke. God loves me. Ps. I don’t smoke tobacco btw.

  • Carl

    I firmly believe it is unique to the individual whether or not Cannabis is “sinful”. I’ve seen people act like fools high, I’ve seen them psychotic, I’ve seen them establish unproductive lifestyles longterm, I’ve seen them neglect their spiritual responsibilities and I’ve seen it lead them down the path of destruction.

    I’ve also seen unbelieveable positive changes that help them to become better tools to impact the kingdom for God’s glory.

    It opened my eyes to the dangers of alcoholism, was my substitute for porn/masturbation/lust, and lead my to constantly focus my eyes on the kingdom and full time ministry instead of worldly desires and hedonism. It led me into the music field and the joy of instrumental praise which was all but a mystery before. It allowed me to see what life would be like if I excercized my full creative potential and what a wonderful world we live in. It helped me to get over the perpetual loneliness that I had been plagued by. It helped me to see that it doesn’t matter if God gives me a wife, I will be content and rest in him, no matter my trials and whether I “get what I want”. I felt like all my fleshly concerns melted away, allowing me to focus on what truly matters, advancing the kingdom. Before I tried to fill the void with a host of negative things that I had used my whole life. They weren’t “DRUGS” but far more dangerous than drugs (which are childishly demonized). Typical? maybe not, but I cherish the time God allowed me to smoke and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    For everyone? Decidedly not. If you feel unrest in your spirit about it I would encourage you to not smoke. For me it was a season and probably one of the most influential seasons of my young adult life. all seasons come to and end though :p

    • Carl

      Drug use is such a ludicrously insignificant issue tbh, why aren’t these people decrying Sexual immorality, Greed, Idolatry and general sinfulness that is glossed over in churches. Far more important things to worry about than something that is as grey as whether eating unhealthy is destroying your temple with reduced life span. smh lol.

  • Jimmy margret

    Yes. The war on drugs and terrorism is a means for satans government to be one greater and more powerfull until it owns everything, has run god completly out of schools and literature and life. And all under the guise of arguments bout the things he himself creates, as genesis teaches us he created all seed barring plants of the earth for mans domestication.

  • Allwynd

    when you smoke weed you become god himself

  • Bill

    Those who lose their faculties while smoking pot are generally also
    drinking alcohol at the same time. If you hope to express a valid point

    about marijuana, you should at least have some personal experience
    with the stuff. You can’t make viable judgements by observing attendees
    of a WiIlie Nelson concert. Also, it isn’t necessary to smoke weed all day
    long, every day. If you do this, you are addicted. ( Many people have
    smoked for 40+ years and never got addicted.) Many people have
    “addictable” spirits. One should be a grownup and discover the truth
    about oneself. The Bible says “….the truth will set you free… and that’s
    correct. If you “need” weed constantly, you have the same problem as
    someone who “needs” orange juice every day. We need air, water, food,
    and shelter from the extreme cold and/or heat. We don’t “need” pot, but
    we can have some if it isn’t making us into stupid people.

  • Wes

    I disagree. I have smoked weed before. And even though I was not functioning normally, when I really wanted to, I could control it. Also, your thought process explodes and you think of things in ways you’ve never thought of before. Deep philosophical questions suddenly take on new lights. If you think thinking about Heaven blows your mind right now, try it when you’re high. I love Jesus and yearn for His glory and yet I think marijuana should be legalized.

  • omenofsedad .

    Your argument goes along the lines with God using the Babylonians to attack the israelites that would not turn from their sinful ways & have their Sabbath. They were defying God almighty by not taking their Sabbaths & by defying him by not learning from the punishments given to them.

    So if you think that it’s bad because of the examples of what other people looked like or how they dressed when they were on it, then you’ve done the exact same thing that the pharisees did to Jesus Christ by criticizing him on his works that were in accordance with the holy fathers law.

    You would criticize something that heals others out of your own personalized opinion? Jesus Christ himself called the owner of a synagogue a hypocrite for faulting him for healing some one on the Sabbath, rather than focusing on the actual aspect of the person being healed.

    I’m trying to seek whether it is sinful or not but as I’ve learned more now, NOT on my opinion that through understanding the use of it based on ones own intentions is the true thing that depicts whether you’re doing it the right way or not. Just as the same thing is for opening doorways in your mind for demons to come play around inside….Opening it, from the inside.

    From the…in…side, get it? IN SIDE THE HEAD AND SOUL. The physicality of it is only the reflection of your very actions from within, open doorways from within to let demons in & they will enter you & torment you if they are able to.

    I can not tell you people how important it is to repent in the name of Jesus Christ & reconcile to the heavenly father in his name & to get a water baptism.

    I have had an abusive childhood, I have PTSD, I have ADHD, I was diagnosed with Autism, I have psychotic tendencies & yet whenever I’d ask or try to pray, my mind could not comprehend it because it was being poisoned by the actual act of the anxiety which did not help when people would lie out of their rears to me about scripture because they were more interested in getting some one to their church than actually getting them salvation, re-initializing my PTSD & making me feel even more violent, Jesus could not reach out to me…how can he reach out to a person that shuts off his own heart in anger & has the log remaining in his own eye, Anguish & pain from the wrongs committed to him by others when he did nothing to deserve it to begin with.

    As stated, Marijuana can be good or bad, it depends on the usage of it & I don’t care about what OPINION you formulate that makes you think you’re right, Cain thought the same thing when he decided to go kill his brother because he made the tithes to god less & did so based solely on his own conscious decisions, rather than those sought through the holy father.

    You are judged by Jesus based on your works. However, repenting in his name is important as well, that being, turning away from your sins you know for without a doubt are absolutely evil in actions & treatment to others like raping & murdering.

    I do not find based on scripture that god would care if you use marijuana so long as it is for medicinal purposes, like for people that have real serious emotional & mental problems. This page only truly validates this. Ask & the lord shall answer you.

    P.S. Catholics opinions do not matter to me on this topic because they adhere to an old man that literally calls himself god on Earth & the replacement for jesus christ, that religion is literally a dogma whore of unholy doctrines.

  • veronica

    Im 24 years old, a mother & married with two children. I was born and raised in Washington & also grew up in the Christian faith. In the past as a teen I tried marijuana here and there but it never became addictive. I recently was diagnosed mental illness. For years I would pray (as well as my family) for healing. I finally went to see a Dr. a couple years ago . They prescribed me meds that either didnt work or had bad “side effects.” Long story short they talked to me about medicinal marijuana & prescribed me it. I was really hesitant at trying it at first because of my moral views & all the labels & stereotypes that come with it. I can honestly say that this is the only thing that has helped me. It hasn’t come between my faith or any other relationships. I actually feel “normal” & can function if that makes any sense.

  • john

    I am a 55 year old Catholic who has used marijuana off and on since I was 16.Having admitted that you have never smoked marijuana you wouldn’t be expected to know that whatever strain of marijuana you smoke you reach a plateau.You can smoke until your throat gets sore but you won’t get any higher.Personally,it enhances my reading, including the Sacred Scriptures.

  • julie

    I always thought marijuana was a mortal sin because it is considered a drug. However, I began thinking more and more about it, and wondered if it is a sin at all. Like you said, there is a limit on other substances like alcohol. Excessive drinking of alcohol can become sinful, but alone it is not. I do not think there is anything wrong with drinking in general until one becomes drunk, no matter what the age. Age doesn’t play a factor to me because time is a human creation.
    Then, I was thinking, like drinking alcohol which is used for various reasons, people drink coffee and other caffeinated drinks. These drinks make people act differently. The effects of these drinks are different than the effects of marijuana. Marijuana gives an instant high. On the other hang, caffeine can easily change a person after one cup.
    I think a very important issue to address is addiction. I think any addiction would be considered sinful to any Catholic. Addiction to tv, food, marijuana, caffeine, or what have you. So, what makes marijuana so bad? Why would it be any different than alcohol and caffeine? All three of those can physically change a persons behavior. I understand why harder drugs, such as cocaine, heroine, acids, are considered mortal sins if taken. Those drugs actually harm the body. Correct me if I am wrong, but marijuana does not harm the body. It is like a relaxation kind of thing. I think in moderation it is essentially the same thing as drinking alcohol or coffee.
    I still want to believe that marijuana is sinful because it gives a high, but after breaking it apart I cannot see how it is any different from other common substances. If used in a social way that will not risk others getting hurt, I cannot find a problem.

    • Cornman

      Actually the only drugs you mentioned that harm the body are alcohol and cocaine. Heroin (and other opiates) are 100% harmless physically and cause absolutely no damage to the brain or body in sub-lethal doses. (Death by opiate OD is caused by suppression of breathing and therefore lack of oxygen, not any form of damage or toxicity) Cannabis is even less harmful due to the fact you couldn’t hurt yourself with it if you tried and caffeine is generally pretty safe unless taken in very high doses. Alcohol is absolutely terrible for your body if you’re drinking enough to get drunk and cocaine causes damage to the circulatory system and the dopamine pathways in the brain.

  • Jon Aubart

    BEST ARGUMENT EVER. I don’t see how it could be bad. Stoners really put a bad rep on it. As did drunks. Now in anything if you indulge is bad, if you eat too much, drink too much, exercise too much, ext. Now if you have a little wine on special occasions or not everyday, Its actually a benefit and can help your health. Weed is even better than alcohol that it isn’t poison and you cannot overdose, not meaning you should just that it is safer in that way. You don’t have to be stoned to smoke. If you do it in moderation and not take a bunch of drags I don’t see why it would be bad. I work out everyday and eat super healthy, I am a health freak. If I were to smoke a couple times a month or better yet eat it, that’s not going to be bad for my health at all.. I am far better than half the world that never drink or smoke. Why because caffeine, one drug most all Americans consume is way worse for you than weed and small amounts of alcohol. Same with fat, sugar, sodium, and many other foods.

    Most Christians think not eating pork is just for Muslims however look it up in the bible, it’s for Christians as well, yet most all Christians do it. Your body is your temple, so you just need to know how to take care of it. hint moderation. Jesus created wine. He just didn’t get super piss drunk, he just had a glass or nothing near where he was dead wasted. So yes if you live for drugs and depend on it and do it all the time, for sure it is bad, but if you do it with your wife or friends on occasion, it isn’t bad at all. If weed starts to make you sin, its just not for you. If you can control yourself as your sin like lust, gluttony, greed, and so on then go for it. It is simply not for the weak. It also doesn’t make people crazy or “evil”. It makes you relaxed, happy, and peaceful. Don’t judge specially when you have never experienced it. People really just take gods beautiful gift and abuse it. Moderation. God Bless. And in the end everyone will always have different views on it because there isn’t one true answer about weed in the bible, so you just have to be smart about it. Its fully up to you if it can be put to the glory of god. I know that if the Christians I know never smoked they would of never reached out to the pot heads that lived for weed. Take care.

  • Venessa Martinez

    BEST ARGUMENT EVER. I don’t see how it could be bad. Stoners really put a bad rep on it. As did drunks. Now in anything if you indulge is bad, if you eat too much, drink too much, exercise too much, ext. Now if you have a little wine on special occasions or not everyday, Its actually a benefit and can help your health. Weed is even better than alcohol that it isn’t poison and you cannot overdose, not meaning you should just that it is safer in that way. You don’t have to be stoned to smoke. If you do it in moderation and not take a bunch of drags I don’t see why it would be bad. I work out everyday and eat super healthy, I am a health freak. If I were to smoke a couple times a month or better yet eat it, that’s not going to be bad for my health at all.. I am far better than half the world that never drink or smoke. Why because caffeine, one drug most all Americans consume is way worse for you than weed and small amounts of alcohol. Same with fat, sugar, sodium, and many other foods.

    Most Christians think not eating pork is just for Muslims however look it up in the bible, it’s for Christians as well, yet most all Christians do it. Your body is your temple, so you just need to know how to take care of it. hint moderation. Jesus created wine. He just didn’t get super piss drunk, he just had a glass or nothing near where he was dead wasted. So yes if you live for drugs and depend on it and do it all the time, for sure it is bad, but if you do it with your wife or friends on occasion, it isn’t bad at all. If weed starts to make you sin, its just not for you. If you can control yourself as your sin like lust, gluttony, greed, and so on then go for it. It is simply not for the weak. It also doesn’t make people crazy or “evil”. It makes you relaxed, happy, and peaceful. It doesn’t make you lazy it makes you sleep. What’s wrong with sleeping after all more than half of the world suffers from insomnia over stress and worry.

    Don’t judge specially when you have never experienced it. Just because one person abuses it and makes it look bad no “true” Christian should do it. Then since people abuse food and live with gluttony we should stop eating right. Remember god just wants you to be happy in the end, if your not sinning or abusing weed or alcohol go for it, especially weed, its natural, god given, no drug really, drugs like acid aren’t from god or pure (natural). People really just take gods beautiful gift and abuse it. Moderation. God Bless. And in the end everyone will always have different views on it because there isn’t one true answer about weed in the bible, so you just have to be smart about it. Its fully up to you if it can be put to the glory of god. I know that if the Christians I know never smoked they would of never reached out to the pot heads that lived for weed. Take care.

  • pakua

    Not at all…I feel though as for me it opens the eyes to my soul and I appreciate everything and everyone on a whole different scale.

  • Jonathan Michelsen

    I would like to add to this discussion. As a born again Christian, filled with the spirit of God, I do not believe Pot smoking to be wrong. I often feel like the only Christian in the world who believes this. Like Michael said, one can over do it and be drunk stoned. But just the right amount can calm your nerves and relax you. My experience with the herb plant has greatly enhanced my meditation with in prayer, not the opposite. If we as Christians can condemn Marijuana, then why not also Coffee, Bear, Wine, etc? So many in the Christian community smoking the plant is a perversion. Really? That’s absolutely ridiculous! I believe it comes down to personal conviction. If you believe it to be wrong for your self, than partake in it no longer.

  • Guest

    Ok, i think i can fill in some of these gaps for you guys. Please consider what i have to say and keep an open mind…

  • Brooks Pitman

    Ok, i think i can give you guys some insight that might help you understand some parts of this matter a little better by telling you my story of coming to a realization about marijuana and God…

    If you’re impatient, skip to the last paragraph to see what I conclude

    You see, I was taught Christianity by my family, but as i grew older i slowly moved away from the faith, interestingly enough for the very same reason mentioned in the article above, my logical, rational, intellect given to me by God. I hold truth and honesty very close as part of my personality, and therefore before putting my faith into Christianity and God, i needed undeniable, tangible evidence, so that i would know i could confidently build faith. Unfortunately, as i have been gifted with a strong intellectual mind, it comes with its faults, the subconscious arrogance to assume i am right. Marijuana ultimately solved this problem for me, and the problem of true soberness, and allowed me to begin to develop a relationship with God, but that will will all unravel in the story soon enough.

    For sake of time, and patience, i will run through this part quickly. I began smoking marijuana junior year of high school, it is not too long after this time that by chance I met a very special girl, one i will come to Love to this day, and for the foreseeable future. This meeting occurred because of my choice to use marijuana, it kinda of got me into the party scene you know, going out drinking, having fun or relaxing around smoking a few bowls, where i would meet countless people, including her. From here our relationship grew to what it is today, other details occur over the next few years but are too many to mention. Our relationship, was not your average relationship for one big reason. Not long after we began dating, she confessed to me the horrors with which she had to deal with as a child, she was sexually abused by her father, to what degree I will not discuss, because that is not for me to divulge. Moreover, her mother betrayed her as well, knowing what was happening, and what had happened, and even after being take to jail, still allowed him into her home, despite the pleading of her daughter. You have to understand too, that we really are a good match for each other, but it was through being by her side, attempting to help her through all of this, that we developed a deep bond of love. Moving on with this new information in mind, Recently in the last few months, she attempted to take her own life… an action that if succeeded would have ripped my very being to shreds. She was taken to the hospital because she admitted the attempts she had made to her boss at work one day, she told me later that she had prayed god would give her the right thing to say when she got i there to explain why she missed the previous day, and that when she went in and sat down she just confessed to everything without even meaning to. From this point she has begun to get the help she needed, they finally got her out of her Mom’s house, and she is living with a loving christian family who know her well and are helping her to recover from the trauma caused by her own parents. She has chosen to devote her life to God because of this, where before she shared my views. She wanted me to do the same so she would constantly speak of God, and how we should put our faith in him and why. I of course disagreed entirely with everything she was telling me, but still listened to her out of love and the respect for her opinion. Another thing she argued with me about was my continued use of marijuana, which was not acceptable in the eyes of the lord. Up to this point i have still been a Smoker of marijuana, and recently it was a habit that even i can admit got out of hand, having days where i would smoke and be high, from the time i got up to the time i went to bed. Recently i have cut back a lot more, but still smoke regularly. About a month ago, my girlfriend told me she could no longer be with me if i could not share her views of the lord, and i of course said i couldn’t, i could not go against my rational mind that had to be correct in its assumptions, so we split kind of this point. I wouldn’t change my beliefs just cause she asked me to, but i still missed her so, it was a real pickle to be in. Then one night i smoked a bowl in bed to wind down the day, and began thinking about my girlfriend just cause i missed her and i slowly began to think about everything my girlfriend said as about God as i smoked. So i began searching for answers online to my questions, i had to see if there was proof, i stumbled across a site and posted a comment of my troubles and things i was experiencing in life in a section titled i don’t know how to believe in God, and then since i had been smoking a little and i was much more open to the idea, i got down on my knees next to my bed and asked God if he was really there, to help give me the reasons i seek to believe, because i was at a personal decision i could not decide, forfeit my solid gut beliefs and therefore my integrity as a person by just faking to believe. Or losing the girl whom i deeply love, simply because i do not have the knowledge necessary to rationalize god to myself, when so others around me do. From here on out in the story my relationship with god is slowly beginning to blossom with time, and me and my girlfriend, who cant be together for the time anyways, for the sake of the success of her healing process and ultimate happiness, are still able to retain our love for each other by remaining best friends, in hopes one day after God leads her through her healing process that she will be able to experience the true beauty of love with me, without it being tainted by her unfortunate childhood.

    So why is he rambling about his life love story you may ask, well it all plays into God’s plan for me as an individual. God knew my one weakness in my specific rational mind was Love of others, i have a big heart, and therefore am vulnerable when it comes to that area. By being introduced to marijuana, i was introduced to her, and then the power of the love we had built together spurred the rest. It is also a good detail to know I am also an individual who has a hard time focusing on things when there are so many distractions around to catch my eye, the noise of all the information and emotions and feelings from anything and everyone around me, most perceived immediately as deceit crowding my head. I find in my experience, that smoking slows me down, allows me to clear my head and focus on what i choose to think of, also without being bound by to my opinions in the process. Of course i’m not talking about getting stoned, but when you smoke a moderate amount to yourself rather. When i had been smoking a little bit and decided to post that comment, and say that prayer that has led to so much more, it was because the marijuana helped me focus my mind solely on what i wanted to think about, without any distractions, including my own bias. In this case the bias was my views of God and his existence, which i did not believe originally. I overcame that by considering everything i began to learn with an open mind, and in doing so, discovered belief in God can not be proven with tangible evidence to the extent of which mankind is capable of producing, God has knowledge man has not. My new found understanding and beginnings of my relationship with Christ led me to a problem, every christian i would talk to would discuss how marijuana is bad, and that the bible and God prohibit this by way of mentioning similar actions like getting drunk. I began to search for myself and discovered nothing specifically prohibits marijuana, rather we are told that alcohol is not approved of, for the reasons that it hinders us from a closer relationship with God, health and life. I think we must use example as a guideline for all substances, but unique to each person. I myself, know marijuana actually allowed me to become closer to the Lord, and whether or not people take my word for that, it is up to them. I think we must consider all things on how they affect us personally, because while somethings hinder , they may also be eye opening, depending on who is experiencing it. Because God made each of his children unique, and therefore each requires there own unique relationship with god, and the means to nourish it, which as in my case he presents to me in marijuana. Having the ability to know deep down, and truly choose whats good for our individual selves, not just justify our vices is the true challenge. Another thing i have been accused of, however i will maintain, i know how the use of a moderate amount of marijuana helped me to better know the lord. I believe among the many other uses for the plant, medical and whatnot, God also intended it to help me know him, by introducing me to Love, helping me look past my own mind, and by blocking out the distractions of the world that cloud my mind.

  • Brooks Pitman

    For the sake of those who merely want my view points on marijuana, as a marijuana user and christian I will condense my first comment to this:

    The bible speaks of substances like alcohol that hinder us from keeping a pure relationship with God, and from a good health, and life. I believe God uses alcohol as an example to us, to why he wants us to avoid its use, there are some direct comments, and ones you must infer that give you an idea of why he tells us not to use the substance, which i have taken to be anything that hinders my relationship with God. So i ask myself, does marijuana hinder me from my relationship with God? Quite the contrary, God’s creation of the plant and its effects, gave me the ability to see past my own reservations, and open up to the world of God to embark upon a journey to obtain a better knowledge of Christ. Marijuana was the substance that helped me to see past the arrogance mankind practices subconsciously at times. I had a feeling of a clearer head, one i could focus solely on God, and not be deterred by my own previous thoughts and opinion’s. Essentially, it helps me to step out of the confines of my own mind for a bit, and in turn allows me to look past the barriers i had built towards God. It comes down to the difference in all people, we are all unique creations. Some of us may find a particular influence or substance hinders us from a relationship with God, because for them specifically it does, but then again it may be what others need to become closer. We must examine all the things we do in life, and ask ourselves if those things hinder us, and it will vary from person to person. The trick is being able to truly know what helps you and hinders you, and not merely trying to justify a vice. The answer to the trick is to listen to what your heart and what God reveals to you, if you are truly hindered by something in your relationship with god, you will know. Vice versa, if deep down you know that something helps you yourself, to be able to become closer to God, then you need not justify it to anyone or anything, because God understands you, and that relationship is what truly matters. God understands each and every one of us, hears our thoughts, and answers our prayers. God has also placed every plant and creature upon this earth and deemed them good. He placed the cannabis plant here, something that can be plucked from the earth and not altered by man, i believe not only to help with medicinal issues over its entirety of existence, but also because God is not foolish and recognizes the unique needs of his children, and presents us with ways to become closer to him leaving us to simply decide what it is that really brings us closer and does not hinder. in this case, for me marijuana was one of those things. To conclude, I also warn that even though i see how marijuana has helped my relationship, i can see how it may hinder it, if i allow myself to begin to overuse, or use for the wrong purposes, it diverts you from your path with God, but if you are able to use its effects as an ally, meaning reach a point of which you are high but not in a stupor of course, and direct that time of meditation towards God, and godly things then you will see that you can understand things, and see lessons in a way you may have not been able to before, and through this, God may reveal new understanding to you like he did me.

    Moral of the story, whatever it is you use, do not abuse, but rather direct it towards building a better relationship with God. If you can not direct it in that manner, then you should not use it.

  • Legends

    What is more sinful weed or contraception?

  • juniorspencer

    good medical marijuana strains and seeds for sale.if interested contact 5712077805 or email juniorspencer10@gmail.com

  • josh

    Marijauna use is good but marijauna abuse is bad. It temporarily effects the short term memory and that’s what it’s meant to do because sometimes is nice to just forget about all the stresses in life especially after a hard week of work. Marijauna is healthy but junkfood is not and I am a firm believer that responsible adult’s should be allowed a legal right to consume it if it does not effect their relationships, spirituality, and ambition. God bless all of you

  • david

    I think we need to remember that God gave dominion of the planet to Satan, which included death, and the things that take us off the focus of being a christian, God says if you think b is sinful it probably is. We should never speak for God what is wrong and right. I have seen pastors on t.v. and personal that stated they were drunk in the spirit, this is a bad message to send especially if someone has a drinking problem, they see the pastor do it, hey its ok, when in fact it was being overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit touching man. Since no one can say if its sinful I cause one has to go with their belief, but I don’t think I should misdiagnose scripture, or, speak for God.

  • Corey Wesley Walter Jacobs

    Well, I’m a Marijuana user and I’d like to say this. Last night I packed a bowl, grabbed the bible my late grandfather had given me(St. James NIV), smoked and read the bible over 2 hours. It was great. Anyway, I am a user right now. If anyone has a question, ask away. My 2 cents on this issue is:

    1. I use at home when I know I don’t have to do anything important i.e work or visiting family.
    2. Know your limits. This is more complicated than you think. It’s 2013 and there are new ways to do everything it seems. There are more ways to ingest THC than ever. Depending on how you ingest THC, it will effect the level of “High”. Ways of ingesting are as follows : Vaporizing. A tool heats up your marijuana to THC’s burning point and no further, so you get a cleaner vapor rather than a smoke. THC also can be smoked from a concentrated form called “Hash”. It’s generally higher THC content than the marijuana plant.

    Furthermore, you may even make “Cannabutter” which is exactly what it sounds like. THC Butter. You can use this very potent butter that can be used in conjunction or to replace butter in a recipe. This way seems to me the only legitimate way to use THC sinlessly.

    Lastly, the most dangerous way to ingest THC lately has been “Dabs”. Now, I’m a marijuana smoker. Marijuana is like anything else, you get a tolerance. Dabs would ruin my day even as a regular pot user. Dabs are the highest concentration of THC available. It is also called “honey” as it usually is yellow and honey like in it’s viscosity. This most certainly will get you to an altered state.

    In conclusion, anything that takes your mind off of worshiping God is bad. I smoke marijuana and know that it IS a sin. It is mind altering. I try my best to worship and thank god for life every chance I get. I do this even while “Stoned”. However, I will be judged for my sins as we all will. I have accepted this. What worries me more than smoking marijuana is using the Lords name in vain. So many people do that and I am guilty for this. I have been trying to not do this anymore.

    God bless
    CWWJ

  • Chris

    I agree with all u said but the argument has been Jesus never addressed marijuana. If Jesus is our model then why didn’t he addrewss it.

  • Didier Ortiz

    Oh man, so many people here falling into stereotypes like “Stoners who never do anything productive” or “Musical geniuses high on drugs”. The reality is that many people smoke weed and live decent lives. The war on drugs and the media make people reply only stereotypes and strawman arguments to talk about this issue. “What if you didn’t smoke? Maybe you would have gotten a 4.0?” Or maybe not? What kind of an argument is that? The same faulty reasoning follows the “despite cannabis” argument. I am all for legalizing it but I am still weighting the factors in personal use since I have never smoked before. I’ll still be looking for resources to learn about it.

  • Walter John Stewart

    I have been researching Marijuana a lot over the past little bit and reading every point of view of the substance. The biggest problem I have with this article and Christianity itself even though I was raised in the church is that Christ was opposed to organized religion. He would of never of lead a Crusade against Jerusalem. He would of never lived with people making pilgrimages to Rome to offer Siiver and Gold to the church to have their dead family released from purgatory. He would of never let his following to cut down trees to hang ornaments in on them in remembrance of him and the list goes on and on. He was deeply into individualism and not conformism. The very commercialization of his birthday I observe is as Satan’s Trojan horse against humanity while we cut down a tree to worship a man birthday for hope that we hung on tree.Today the Christian faith is trying to translate the Bible into 6909 different languages and money and material gain in this is simply to huge to be an act of god, it is more of an act of egotism of heavily faulty religion looking for more power and earthly glory to concur than to save lives. The biggest question I have for this faith is how did God ever live and love all these people on the planet speaking all these languages without his love divine love when he created them in the first place? Last time I checked God was the creator not the destroyer and how many life supporting hectares of land will have to be cleared of virgin forest to produce a historical but a very vague and argument producing book? Now I am not just anyone, I am a distant relation of King James himself and on top of that I am a descendant of the first overlord of Scotland that was the Father of the first Stewart King. Looking further into history and understanding a lot about longevity man gained his mortality when he started to kill for food as Science proves the eating of Manna = Chlorella heals and nourishes the body to the point that long life is achievable and Nasa proved this in the 60s. Furthermore, back to Marijuana unlike Caffeine which is the most Psycho active highly addictive drug on the planet and the number one killer of youth today as it unregulated to a point where a teenage can walk into convenience store today a buy a couple energy drinks and will die of a heart attack just days later… The Bull is Red , I am sorry, especially with the coffee bean being the second most traded commodity on the markets with Oil being the first. Caffeine It is highly addictive where Marijuana is a reverse tolerance substance and with it being illegal drug dealers hustle the easier and faster growing Indica strands that are much less functional than the Sativa strands which are next 100% functional. Again functional consumption is what it is all about in todays Materialistic World and you will notice that the Material realm is the lowest subordinate realm of life and thats why we kill over it which is a sin. The average Marijuana long term user will only spend 35.00 a week on his or her habit which is mainly for active or passive mediation, chronic pain relief, or relaxation depending on the strand and there are infinite amount of strands with all of having different characteristics. I was taught of the uses of the plant for creative activity many years ago and it has help me with creative blocks and to sit through long solitary creative endeavours that without it I would never have the patience to sit through or even conceive. When I produce art without it is not nearly as popular when I use it for creativity and many artists of all lines of work all say the same thing and the universe will forever invest into creative individuals to sustain civilization. I truly believe that God brought the plant to me in my time of need and as I understand he only gives us what we need. Addictions are those types of habits we can’t go more than a hour or two without and if go to work and have a hard day of it I don’t endlessly contemplate how long will it be until I have my next high. I use it more when I am exhausted and need to wake up mentality when I have been at work for 8 hours but still have more items that need my attention afterwards. I believe in a great many passages in the Bible however I also believe a lot of information has been lost or has been simply been left out to control minds into living a conformed life style. Like all substances found on the planet everything should used and not abused and you will never hear of anyone overdosing on a herb that heals when she is used with proper focus of heart and mind for god and not for the blind material gain of men. As for intelligence I have a friend who told me he could not even think of wrapping his mind around Trigonometry until he used Marijuana and I believe if you are intellectually challenged you will still be Intellectually challenged on Marijuana. As for all substances I do believe that only fully physically mature minds should used them in moderation and with healthy activities because all idle hands are the devil’s workshops.

  • Daniel

    You say it is sinful to deliberately blur the intellect. What about psychotropic drugs, then? Benzos like Valium and Klonopin certainly blur the intellect, and yet I’ve never heard a priest speak out against those. Psychotropics, especially antipsychotics, are used to control people and can cause sever brain damage.(For more info, watch “Psychiatry: An industry of death.”) Marijuana, however, does not cause permanent significant damage to the brain, and can even cure cancer (yes, 34 medical studies confirm this.) If I had a teenage child, I would much prefer them to smoke the occasional joint then to be prescribed any psychiatric meds. I know this is a bit off-topic, just wanted to throw it out there.

  • doesnt matter

    If you haven’t used the substance and know nothing about it, why are you writing anything at all. its obviously not your place, just let it be. You dont need to answer everything, this post makes you look completely illiterate, misinformed, and flat out stupid.

  • SY

    Be careful, there are fake marijuana vs the natural ones being sold to people. The fake ones are pretty bad. I have good experience from marijuana that I given up medications that were giving me side affects. I don’t feel addicted or any of the negative comments being said here.

  • Linda

    Very interesting; I think you backed up your argument.

    Linda

  • Summer

    Personally, I think that if you’ve never smoked Marijuana you can’t really make statements like, “it inhabits the intellect” because it does not. And although no one asked me, I will give my opinion as a Christian. The idea is moderation. In the bible, Jesus provides wine for adults to drink. Alcohol is okay to drink, however over-drinking to the point of being drunk is the sin. Drinking is not. Marijuana is the same. Smoking to a point where you are mentally incapacitated from over-smoking, is also a sin. You cannot, having never smoked marijuana give accurate descriptions of what the herb does to the body, mind, or intellect, nor can you compare a nature herb to cocaine, opium, and codeine because each of these have to go through a chemical process to extract the “high mechanism,” whereas with marijuana you do not. I respect your opinion, but undoubtedly you are wrong.

    • Cornman

      Actually opium is simply the dried sap from the opium poppy pod that oozes out after the pod is sliced with a knife and allowed to dry for a day. This can be smoked as is with no processing and contains around 10-20% morphine by weight which is what causes the effects.

  • Summer

    Also, I smoke marijuana to calm my muscles so that I can run longer without my muscles getting tired. It doesn’t make me lazy at all.

  • ThoseWhoStayUofM

    I question the claim that marijuana inhibits the highest functions of the soul. Marijuana changes the “way of thinking” that you employ when making rational decisions. It is a biased judgment based in false assumptions to say that the “way of thinking” that marijuana puts you in is a bad “way of thinking”. Do you understand this?

    Could it not also be claimed that marijuana, rather than inhibiting the highest functions of the soul, actually enhances the highest functions of the soul? It is incontravertibly true that social conditioning, language, and education alter our “way of thinking”. I would posit that these environmental factors that we are born into are what scripture has always been referring to when discussing the conception of “original sin” or being “born into sin”. I would argue that the effects of marijuana counteract many of the elements that these environmental factors impose on our wills, enabling us to actually see more clearly with what is referred to in Hinduism as “the third eye”. Im not trying to coerupt the Christian religion with hindu aspects, but I believe in hinduism, they refer to many of the same things as Christians, but by different names.

  • Alex

    “Drunkenness is evil because it blurs and muddies our highest faculty – rationality.” *cough cough* Just like organized religion. *cough cough* Ironic, eh? *cough*

  • Michael Caron

    First of all let me start out by saying to the writer of this article, I’m very, very, very, very sorry- That you ever attended a phish concert. All joking aside, to the point of weather or not cannabis is sinful… It is an intoxicant, that alters your perception of reality. Not similar to alcohol in effect, but we can liken it to alcohol for the sake of Biblical arguments. Jesus himself turned water into wine… and it seems like these things were created for our pleasure and enjoyment. However, there are those who partake, and those who abuse. It is not righteous to stumble through life drunk, so I would also assume smoking weed every day and walking through life high is not the most righteous of activities either. Saying this however, cannabis does have medicinal value, and I do believe that even a small bout of depression should render one to (responsibly) to partake. The real sin here is that unless we legalize and regulate it…. People who prefer this substance (occasionally) have to surround themselves with the sinners and those who walk through life high to get it. If you read all this, thanks… just my opinion. I believe it should be legally sold and regulated and taxed, like alcohol.

  • brandy

    i just wanted to say this….as an ex pot smoker and drug addict (fake marijuana), there are several factors involved. i’m not going to write a thesis on it, but it’s like this: real pot is psychologically addicitive if you let it be, and fake marijuana is a chemical dependency. for me personally, i called on Jesus to help me with my fake marijuana addiction and He did. i swore i would never go back to any of it and 5 years later, i haven’t touched anything! when it comes to real pot, alcohol, eating, or anything else in life that is physically, mentally and/or psychologically stimulating, you have to balance ALL of it. unless God is the center of your circle of life and being, it will be very difficult to get ANY addiction under control. i know first hand…..i tried it and failed miserably many times because i did not ask God for help. but because of His love and grace, i did not have to go to a rehab facility. He was/is my rehab! praise God Almighty!! i am free at last…….:) <3

  • Mr. 2 Cents

    I think the subject of whether marijuana affects intellect and how it relates to sin can be a very crucial question but its not one that can provide a resolute conclusion for most people….

    In my opinion, marijuana may affect the capacity of a person’s thought processing capabilities such as thinking quickly, however I disagree that it has any correlation with sin. The article quotes on the bible verse on “drunkenness” and begins to redirect the focus of that verse. I strongly believe the intent of that message is directed at the concept of that sort of state of mind where rationality and morality is lost/reduced rather than reduced intellectual ability. Just because someone comes to a thought 1 or 2 seconds later than a normal person does not mean he or she will expose themselves to a plethora of sins.

    Drinking and getting drunk on the other hand inhibiting ration and logic is the first step towards other sins like the obvious lust and violence. My main point is that many people are over analyzing and digging so deep they have overlooked the big picture and general concept. This really reminds me of the debate when people say “well the bible doesn’t say specifically”. Yes the bible will not always be inclusive of every technical detail and possible so you must be able to grasp the main concept of why and spot the indications of a sin rather than have a manual on sin outlining every move in our lives.

    I don’t see why so many people view Christianity as black and white. I can agree to some degree there needs to be discipline and structure but that doesn’t require everything be categorized between A and B…

  • Mustachion

    It’s certainly convenient that alcohol be considered ‘different’ and thus exempt from being considered as sinful in your opinion.

  • Ezbs

    Dr Marshal, I’m late to this post. You made me laugh quote snoop dogg. It’s like reading Putin quote Shakespeare. Haha.

    I know a catholic family using cannabis oil for brain cancer. It seems to be working. Your explaination gave me confidence, as I agree with your argument. Especially regarding medicinal marijuana.

    I liked your post.

  • dude

    Also god said in Genesis 1:29 “for I have given you every seed-bearing plant and tree bearing fruit on the face of the earth”

  • nate

    The reason I’m reading this is because weed is a touchy issue for me. I’ve always considered it sin, thoug I’ve done it anyway, but I never understood why. It has beneficial characteristics for overall health, not just healing or as a painkiller, it doesn’t at all impair my ability to think, drive, walk, talk, hold a conversation, or problem solve. So why would it be considered a sin? I’m sorry to say it but this article isn’t helpful at all. In fact, parts of it aren’t even true. But more to the point, I was a constant user for a couple of years, still use on occasion and am still sharp as a tack (even when stoned). Another thing…does I’ve always wondered if it makes a difference that I seem to feel closer to god when I’m stoned. That could just be my own mind talking, but everything (especially music) seems so much more beautiful when I’m stoned, anf I give thanks to god for it. I don’t know, but I feel like weed was a gift.

  • Mary Jane

    if you’ve never been high, PLEASE do not attempt to preach about marajuana, you WILL sound naïve.

  • Mary Jane

    Marajuana is a legitimate treatment for people in chronic pain and/or who suffer from chronic/overwhelming social and/or other anxiety. Speaking to the anxiety reducing effects specifically, Marajuana is a safe and effective drug forthe treatment and rehabilitation of overly inhibited personality types. I emphasize safety specifically because Marajuana had been proven to have dramatically less negative side effects than typical mood stabilizers, SSRIs, or other common drug or hormone based treatments.

    Another aside, I have personally observed in (mostly) others that prescription pharmaceuticals (Xanax, Ambien, Adderall, Codine, Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone, Dextromethorphan (found in couch and cold medicines) and on and on and on…) have the potential to produce way way waaaaay more symptoms of incognizance, or “intellectual inhibition,” as you will, than I have ever seen from the effects of Marajuana.
    Namaste

  • Eric

    Your god will forgive you. Trying pot once is not and will not be the worst sin you have done. Don’t “no” it until you try it. There are so many common misconceptions thrown out by people that have not tried it. Doing it once with a positive or neutral attitude will not harm you to the point of no return. Try it, if its not for you fine, and if you don’t like it leave the people that do alone.

  • blake

    I don’t think marijuana is as bad as you say. For one, you can get buzzed on it like beer. Its not one inhale and your pass out high. You smoke more you get higher. If you smoke less you dont get as high. And rational decisions can still b made while high. Plus, if u stay home and in bed while high, u can enjoy the feeling without need for decision making or motor skills for the most part. Its not very bad.

  • Marcus

    I’m still really not sure about an absolute answer to this. To this day I still smoke and I consider myself a christian and I would just like to share what I feel when I smoke. Bare with me. I sometimes feel that smoking (not being flat out stoned but in that relaxing high) heightens the spiritual reality for me. I have prayed while high before and honestly it felt like I was even more able to shut out the negative voices in the world and focus on God and the spirit. Sure I will admit that the mind seems on the outside numb but I believe it’s because it forces you to think inward. It is possible to be high and still be rational. With that being said I feel at the same time that it is a crutch. It’s a crutch that people can use to deal with stressful situations, emotional issues, etc… and I don’t think that that is a necessarily bad thing but when over used is when you start to see the lack of motivation etc… For me I didn’t grow up in the best neighborhood so to get through I prayed and I also smoked until God finally gave me a way out (Thank God). But as I grow I feel like it conflicts with “The only thing you need is God”. Then, there is the fact that it is illegal where I live… I just don’t know. I find it strange from my viewpoint that God would have such a problem with it especially seeing that it was made from His hands and for me has helped me out so much.

  • John Russell Sauquillo

    To say any smoking of marijuana is bad and then going on to say alcohol is OK in small amounts because the effect is ‘graduated’ is Moral Equivocation and intellectually weak

  • Dijon

    Dear Sir, I respect that you had the time to shed some light on a topic that confuses most but Sir I am open about my marijuana use and drop all these names you guys gave people that use it. These names are associated with the negative and certainly wrong impression the ignorant, prejudice and those that are brainwashed by society and the times. I noticed you mentioned too that you’ve never smoke marijuana.. Sir if you’ve never done it how could you conclude what type of “high” it gives you. I do believe everything should be done in fair amount and also, everything is not for everyone. I’m young and was once like you and many other who are against it but ashamed that after my years of spreading arguments on a topic I really was miseducated and ignorant on.. I am a man, you are a man and there are many men. Your opinion doesn’t matter especially when one can’t relate. Probably if you were a stoner and something bad happened I’d have gave you more in on my conscience. As we are on the topic of conscience too, that’s what marijuana works on. The brain, your intellect and it relaxes and calms you. It feels God-like and since it’s creation it’s enough to believe in. I have never felt bad about doing it either…

  • teddy thompson

    Until you read God’s truth about marijuana, you have not heard from Jesus the living God, for only his word is perfect.

  • Dreamer

    Meant to say weed does not make me stupid, sorry for this misunderstanding.

  • brett

    I believe there are different levels of intellect capacities when smoking marijuana. Still need to do more research to grant it as a sin or not.

  • Holly Williams

    This is a really good article and I shared it with two of my Facebook pages “Defending the Catholic Church – Catholic Apologetics” “Catholic Christians Dedicated to Protecting Freedom and Human Rights”. Feel free to check out those pages on Facebook if you’d like.

    Anyway, I found this to be a good defense of why recreational usage of marijuana is sinful. I believe that medicinal marijuana for serious health conditions like cancer is an appropriate use. However, I think that other mainstream medicinal therapies must be exhausted first. Therefore I do support the legalization of medicinal marijuana but not recreational marijuana.

    Also, Taylor Marshall, could you please set up your pages so that it shows well when you share it on Facebook? When I shared it on Facebook it only showed the link and not the title of the page. I’d greatly appreciate this. :)

  • Susan Sulmonte

    I would like to speak as a former pot smoker. First, much depends on the kind of pot you smoke. I got some once that made me so paranoid with just a few tokes that I quit that very day. BUT…. it is in fact basically true that smoking gives you an all or nothing high. BUT there is a bit of graduality to that. Yes, once you smoke you are fully high, no matter how much you smoke, but the more you smoke, the more intense the high can become, and the longer it will last. And getting high definately gives you a care free attitude. This is not always good. One should care about many things in life aside from getting their hands on a bag of doritos. Getting high breaks down your proper use of reason just like any other drug, and I believe it opens up your soul to evil influences, giving them increased power of deception. Don’t do it.

    • http://taylormarshall.com/ Dr. Taylor Marshall

      Thank you for this “insider” information!

    • Cornman

      !00% BS. There is no “all or nothing” high with cannabis, high can be anywhere from barely noticable to stoned out of your mind seeing closed eye visuals and sense of time severely distorted. And speak for yourself about the carefree attitude because when I smoke I think much more about what needs to be done and unfinished work is much more likely to cause me anxiety until it is finished. Many others I know share my reaction to it. Personally when I smoke cannabis one of my favorite things to do is read physics textbooks and abstract scientific articles. Um when I get high my use of reason is certainly not broken down at all. Like any other drug? You seem to think all drugs are somehow alike (they are not). Take some amphetamine and tell me if it breaks down your use of reason. I think you will find quite the opposite. Now about opening up your soul to evil influences, I do agree with you there although I also think that applies to good influences. It makes you more open to things in general.

  • Clinton Lowell Ufford

    LOL.

  • Jim

    Marijuana is a tricky substance, I feel that the Church simultaneously offers a general direction in how to treat it then I do in a definitive answer as to how one uses it. The General Rule would be as follows, provided the plant is legal to smoke and also that one does not suffer from any Mood or Psychotic Disorders. I can only see these principles applied on an individual level, that they would know in their heart of hearts:

    - Intention

    “Why am I smoking this?”

    The reason why one smokes, drinks, or does anything needs to be determined. If one smokes marijuana to escape from reality (i.e. get high, delusional thinking), then one is in fact only affirming, or bowing down to the Passion of Pride and perhaps to either Sloth, Pusillanimity, or Both. If one smokes marijuana to suppress anxieties, (i.e. racing mind, restlessness) however, then there shouldn’t be a culpability associated with this.

    - Intensity

    “How much am I using in one sitting?” – “How much space of time passes between each sitting?”

    The first question is a measure of Intensity, which would be measured by the Amount of THC present in the plant, there are Marijuana breeders who blend Marijuana plants which have a low THC Volume, so if the THC Volume is Low then I do not see anything wrong because this would be in line with the Good Intention above.

    The second question is a measure of Latency, if the user can maintain a healthy sense of latency when it comes to use of said plant, then there also shouldn’t be anything wrong, much the same way that someone who drinks alcohol can drink it without needing to do so. So if one smokes Marijuana in a manner that reflects detachment will things workout for the better.

    - Influence

    “Do I Need This To Function?” or “Will I Come Back To This Out of Necessity?”

    Only those who can say “No” to the question above do I think are most able to smoke marijuana, if they say “Yes” then I believe they shouldn’t smoke it. If they feel that next time they will need to do it in order to accomplish a task then they really ought not to do it, or at the very least practice mortification to make sure that they affirm to themselves that they do not need the plant in order to function.

    *Conclusion*

    From the Catholic Perspective, Temperance is key when it comes to drinking and anything else that can give legitimate pleasure. Therefore, in the Spirit of Temperance, one should be able to smoke Marijuana without Culpability so long as they meet the following:

    1. Intention of Using Marijuana as an Aid [preferably in Conjunction with other Therapeutic means] of Calming Unnecessary Anxieties.

    2. Provided that the Volume of THC in the plant is low enough to meet the needs in #1, but no higher than those needs. Which is obtained from a legitimate and licensed merchant.

    3. Provided that the space in time that passes reflects a Healthy Detachment from the active substance itself

    4. Provided that one can smoke Marijuana without feeling the need of necessity in its use in order to operate on a day to day basis or so long as important duties are not neglected and carried out with Justice and Charity required by ones station in life

    5. ALL of which, Provided that it is LEGAL and that one does not have certain types of Mental Disorders (Mood and Psychotic, in particular) or has Hallucinatory experiences while smoking the Plant.

    *Disclaimer*

    I brought this issue to a confessor and he told me that it should be treated as no different then drunkenness, but his statement seemed more of personal opinion than it did as a matter of Church Moral Theology. I for my part, would not smoke Marijuana, nor would I advise others too, although in my past life I played around with a handful of substances, nothing hard per se though, but still substances nonetheless.

    My general motto is, “Sparingly to not at all.”

    I believe that the science is largely unknown concerning the effects of Marijuana, some research suggests that it is healthy and beneficial and other research suggesting that its unhealthy and degrading to psychobiology.

    I believe that Marijuana, is much like Nicotine, in the sense that, it is psychologically addicting in the long term but not physically addicting in the long-term, by this I mean one is only chemically dependent on it for 72 to 100 Hours, but after that any effects of addiction are by and large psychological not chemical.

    In light of those 5 General Principles, the amount of people who could smoke marijuana safely and in good standing would I feel be a low number anyway. They need to satisfy all 5 points, not one can be denied.

  • TotaTua

    it totally depends on the reason for using it. medicinal (really)? recreational?

  • EducatedStoner

    I don’t fully agree with your argument regarding marijuana giving the brain an inability of rational thought when the person is using the herb because I have wrote a perfectly good paragraph while using the herb. The herb helps release stress creating more thinking space to use 100% of my available thinking power on the most important problem which then helps to get rid of the problem quick and efficiently.

  • CeeRuss

    I seem to have a unique view point on weed. I smoke it regularly. But I treat it like I do alcohol. I hate being drunk but I love beer(real beer-nothing made by bud, coors, miller) and I love whiskey. But even more importantly, I love The God Almighty who blessed humans with the ingredients and capability to make the delicious libations. So, while I enjoy these forms of alcohol regularly, I don’t get drunk.

    In the same way, I can take one puff of the green stuff and walk away. Limiting the intoxicating effects of it. I don’t like -even hate- being stoooooned. Not to say I haven’t been in the past. The Lord has changed my desire for that mental escape. I feel that I can enjoy it responsibly without it effecting my rationality and motor skills. And even, dare say, praise and thank God for this provision.

    is this wrong?

  • ryveux

    i smoke weed sometimes.,…..i dont think is a sin because i dont use it to harm people. i smoke marijuana when i’ve lost appetite, it makes me eat well. moreover, its helps me do away with shyness and opens my mind to things i dont know. I often say i thank God for marijuana.

  • Pat

    I have been reading about the sinful nature of smoking weed for a while and have seen the same three reasons why people say it is wrong and the same one reason why it is OK within a limit. The first point is the law says it’s wrong but with many states voting to legalize the drug, that argument as you stated is going flat. The second point most of the other websites used is that everything that is to be done is to be done to the glory of God. Now, the fact that this debate is even happening means that we don’t know whether or not it is wrong to do so to assume that it cannot be done to the Glory of God is already assuming that it is inherently wrong in the first place, not to prove that it is wrong which is a circular argument, and proves nothing. The third argument I’ve seen states that it effects the logical minds of those who do it. I used to smoke everyday, multiple times a day which was wrong but it taught me an important lesson on the life of a smoker. The effect of smoking weed did not effect my rational mind in the slightest. If anything, the outcome of smoking would be interesting and unique topics of discussion that would lead to new ways of thinking about different situations. This might have just been within my group of people so I’m not speaking for everyone. The other effect of smoking would be a relaxed calm down state in which everything was enjoyable. Without effecting my logic or reasoning, I was able to enjoy the simplicity of sitting in a room by myself reflecting on the days events and the morality of myself according to said events. Tolerance is a big factor in the amount of “HIGH” I really was but as the comment under this one states, a hit or two leaves a person with low tolerance, in a relaxed comfortable state without effecting their higher cognitive functions. All that said, i believe that it is not wrong to smoke, but it is wrong to over smoke to the point where it does start to cloud judgement. And it is also wrong to smoke, or tell someone you smoke, that would be a stumbling block to that person. Besides that it has been proven to be good for the body. Anxiety is the number 1 killer of Americans because of the hectic lifestyle that this country has forced on its citizens, but smoking medically reduces stress which reduces heart attacks, stroke, heart disease, alzheimer’s, and a literal laundry list of medical problems.

  • realist

    This is just biased, misleading, and ignorant……. do your research on marijuana and leave the religion out of it.

  • Guest

    To the extent of categorizing MJ use as sinful or not we should look at Romans 14. That chapter basically says that one person can eat meat while to another it is an offense to him to eat meat. For the person that can eat meat in good conscience, it is not sinful to eat meat. It would only be sinful if 1) it caused another offense to for you to eat meat, or 2) you ate meat even though you thought it was wrong to do so.

    It is the same way with MJ in that it is not offensive to some but offensive to others. It’s use is not sinful in itself in much the same manner as Paul discusses eating meat in Romans 14.

    To the matter of whether it impairs intellect to a point where its use is definitely sinful – it doesn’t appear this can be substantively proven and is therefore possibly subjective in nature lending credence to a Romans 14 type interpretation. Furthermore as it can’t be substantively proven and/or is a subjective experience we should not label it sin lest we debase christian liberty.

  • Matthew the Wayfaring pilgrim

    I noticed you avoided the tobacco issue ie. cigarettes. Typical. Why? Could it be because so many bishops, priests and laity (male and female) are chain smokers when out of site of others? As with so many other issues of ‘personal’ choice you are on the wrong side (and dare I say losing side in this case). I don’t toke. Tried it a couple times back in the day but all it did was upset my stomach and not so much as a buzz. Disappointing to say the least. I’m sure you’ll get over it.

  • Kelly

    As Faithful Catholics shouldn’t the Catechism be our guide here ? (2291) The use of drugs inflicts serious harm. Their use (except for therapeutic reasons) is a grave offense. Selling drugs is a scandal, a serious offense and a direct cooperation in the evil of another. I’m looking for a simple answer from a Priest, but am having a hard time getting a definitive one. In Canada Medical Marijuana can be prescribed by a Doctor for certain conditions. The drug alleviates nausea, pain and weakness but the use of it is still causing conflict within the family.

    Would a person with terminal advanced aggressive cancer of the Liver’s mortal soul be at risk using legally prescribed Marijuana if procured through legal means ?

  • Jenny

    I do agree that marijuana is nothing but a gateway substance for leading to harder drugs. I have so many family members and friends that started smoking pot and eventually went to harder drugs. My ex has been in and out of jails,prisons since he was a teen now he is 54, I am a devout christian following the ways of Jesus. And I did have a alcohol addiction as a teen and all through my 20′s but ,I went into a treatment Center told God I needed his help. I now have 17 years clean. Never touched hard drugs or pills had no desire fore it. I tried pot a few times never liked it. yuck! My ex was a big pot smoker he was lazy very forgetful, he has no motivation. He was in la la land most of the time. It shrinks your intellect.

  • Kathleen Nicoloro

    I am a 31 year old Catholic, homeschooling mom of 4. I have smoked pot. I smoked pot everyday before high school, I graduated with straight A’s, in AP classes. I do not smoke pot now. I am not against pot smoking, just like I’m not against having a drink or smoking a cigerette. St.Thomas Aquinas said everything in moderation. Smoking all day everyday would be sinful, having a puff or 2 every now and then has less effect then 2 glasses of wine or a few beers. If it seperates you from God it is sinful, there have been many times in my past when I have pondered God after smoking a little pot or prayed the Rosary after smoking a little bit, my prayers were deep then and still are even though I no longer smoke. I disagree with you.

  • insink71

    Here’s the thing. The Bible says eat, drink & be merry, but all in due season. It also says don’t be a drunkard. I infer this to mean experimentation might be harmless, but anything taken to an excess risks honestly that thing being put before God. This is the case w/ addictions. I’ve experimented w/ a lot of substances in my college years. I have found none more addictive than smoking tobacco. Marijuana shares a mental addiction that smoking tobacco holds, but doesn’t have the nicotine physical addiction. So I struggle w/ the fact that I knowingly defile my temple [still smoke tobacco], and I can say my thoughts are God-centered UNLESS I’m out of tobacco product [the addiction takes precedence over everything else]; which, is also quite sad to me.

  • Roberto Hernandez

    Everything God created is good. Even cocaine was created with a purpose and when it is used for it’s medicinal purposes it remains good. The problem is when something good is not used for what it was originally created for. This is ab-use or Abnormal Use. Sin means to “miss the mark”. Therefore, when we miss it or are not aligned with the original purpose of a thing we are abusing that thing. If something is being used in the context for what it was created for it can be a beautiful thing!

  • Erick Chastain

    I have a hypothetical question, relevant to the claims of some folks like Carl Sagan. Say that there is a legal drug which to some makes them less able to reason, but which to others actually increases the ability to reason by reducing anxiety. For those others (and Carl Sagan was in that category, so he claims) would it be a sin to partake in this legal drug?