Rocky Mountain High: The Legalization of Marijuana

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

Living in Colorado, out of all the various contests, issues, amendments, etc., what surprised me the most was the legalization of marijuana in my home state. Looking back, it shouldn't have surprised me, as Colorado has a very unusual combination of progressive and libertarian politics. While progressives and libertarians fiercely oppose each other on many issues, on the legalization of marijuana, they came together and got the constitutional amendment passed.

Over the past few years, with medical marijuana advocates winning ballot initiatives and legal cases, medical marijuana dispensaries have exploded in Colorado. On my daily commute from my home to my office, I pass at least three dispensaries. The green cross that symbolizes medical marijuana is seemingly everywhere. I am distressed as I wonder what Colorado will be like once the full legalization of marijuana is implemented. Thankfully, there appear to be a bunch of legal and logistical hurdles to overcome before marijuana is fully legalized in Colorado.

How should Christians respond to the legalization of marijuana?

First, I do not think it is biblical, Christ-like, or God-honoring for Christians to use marijuana. Marijuana is unhealthy, especially when smoked. Marijuana is addictive (1 Corinthians 6:12). The mind-deadening high marijuana gives a person is clearly not what the Bible means by being "transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). While marijuana is undeniably not as harmful or addictive as other illicit drugs (or nicotine-based cigarettes for that matter), its effects on the body and mind are not effects that a Christ-follower should seek.

Second, I believe Christians should oppose the legalization of marijuana both legislatively and legally. Marijuana has been called a gateway drug. If the high from marijuana is no longer sufficient, users will begin to seek after stronger illicit drugs, i.e., cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc. Further, once marijuana is legalized, it will become exceedingly easy for young people to gain access to it. We have already seen this firsthand in Colorado, as the use of marijuana among teenagers has skyrocketed since medical marijuana was legalized. The supposed requirement of a prescription has not been a deterrent. The legal requirement to be 21 years of age will not prevent young people from gaining access to marijuana just as it has not prevented them from gaining access to alcohol.

It has been said, "What one generation tolerates, the next generation embraces." The vast majority of adults in Colorado will not suddenly transform into pot-smoking junkies. Intelligent and hard-working people understand that the last thing they need is a poor-functioning brain and a continual case of the munchies. But I fear greatly for the next generation. Legalization legitimizes . And that is the problem. The use of, dependence on, and addiction to marijuana will increase dramatically.

Perhaps it is fitting that Colorado is the first state to legalize marijuana. After all, do you really think John Denver's song "Rocky Mountain High" was about the altitude? But, even now, a week after the election, I can't believe the results. Colorado voters, I have to ask—what were you smoking?

Image Credit: Cannabis Destiny; "Untitled"; Creative Commons

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Published 11-14-12