States Comparison: Christianity vs. Cannabis

States Comparison: Christianity vs. Cannabis

 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound extracted from cannabis. However, unlike THC (the other major compound contained in cannabis plants), CBD does not ‘get you high’ or have any intoxicating or psychoactive effects. In other words, CBD oil is not a ‘drug’ in the street sense. Quite the opposite; studies have shown that CBD oil is a natural remedy and that it is safe, with virtually no side-effects or addictive qualities. For example, CBD oil has been shown to be an effective medicine or treatment for a number of diseases, disorders, and ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, inflammation and arthritis, aging skin, and nausea. It has also been shown to be an effective treatment or adjunct treatment for mental disorders such as different forms of anxiety, depression, and even ADHD.

Even though CBD oil is derived from cannabis, and therefore carries the stigma of ‘marijuana,’ the states in America ranked as the “most Christian” have embraced the use of CBD as a medication. The “most Christian” states, according to one poll, are mostly concentrated in regions: in the South, the ‘Bible Belt’ states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, dominated by Southern Baptists; in the Midwest, where the bulk of Christians identify as Lutheran or Catholic, the most religious states are Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska; in the West, the two most religious states are Utah, where more than half the state’s population is Mormon, and Idaho, where Mormons make up the majority but alongside significant populations of Baptists and Catholics; and in the Northeast, the most religious states are Massachusetts and Pennsylvania where most church-goers are Catholic.
Utah, where over half of the state’s population is Mormon, is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s most religious states, if not the most religious. Utah was also the first state in the country to legalize CBD oil. On March 11, 2014, the Utah State Senate unanimously passed the bill, and on March 25, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed it into law. Gov. Herbert said at the time, “Cannabis oils show promise of offering some relief to Utahns suffering from seizures and epilepsy and we should do all we can to help them.”

Utah’s neighboring state, Idaho, only recently legalized CBD oil. In 2015, Idaho Governor Butch Otter vetoed a bill passed by the Idaho State Senate which would have legalized medicinal CBD oil in the state. At the time Gov. Otter wrote that he “believes the outcomes of patients using the oil are more speculative than scientific and that there were too many questions posed by the bill to allow it to become law.” Two years later, Rep. Brent Crane, Idaho’s Assistant House Majority Leader, stated that he is confident that a new bill to legalize CBD oil would eventually pass in Idaho: “If you were to take a vote on cannabidiol oil, I think it probably would pass.” Rep. Crane’s predictions appear to have been accurate; the Idaho State Senate passed a bill later that year that will legalize the use of CBD oil, although with heavy restrictions on THC content.

Along with Idaho, another of the nation’s “most Christian” states also only legalized CBD oil in 2017. South Dakota is especially adamant about not legalizing medicinal marijuana in their state. However, instead of a direct legislation, the South Dakota legislature used a ‘loophole’ bill to legalize CBD in their state. In 2017 South Dakota State Senate passed a bill that excluded CBD oil from the state’s definition of ‘marijuana,’ therefore making CBD exempt from the South Dakota’s ardent anti-marijuana laws and CBD use became implicitly legal. Despite using different methods, both Idaho and South Dakota paved ways to legalize CBD in their states in 2017.

Of the country’s “most Christian” states listed originally, CBD oil remains illegal in only one: North Dakota. In May 2017, North Dakota police targeted stores selling cannabidiol and CBD oil was removed from North Dakota shelves. During this ‘raid,’ a shop-owner in McKenzie County, North Dakota was prosecuted for selling “products showed that they contained cannabidiol, or CBD.” The district judge, who is insisting the case go to trial, stated simply, “CBD found in the items tested in this case are illegal under North Dakota law.” McKenzie County’s sheriff told reporters, “It’s the state’s position that if it’s not from a mature [cannabis] stalk … it’s a controlled substance. What it boils down to is interpretation of North Dakota law and where the CBD came from on the plant.” The case has yet to go to trial although the district judge is still insistent that it will.

That CBD oil, despite being derived from cannabis, is legal in all but one of the nation’s most religious states might be shocking to some people. However, it could easily be argued that the legalization and use of medicinal CBD is perfectly in-line with Christian morality. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus was a compassionate healer and urged others to do the same. For example,
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14, NIV)
Compassion and the desire the heal the afflicted are essential to Christianity.

The Bible also speaks of holy anointing oils and burning incense being used, which some believe may have been cannabis:
“Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.” (Exodus 30:25, NIV)
The “sacred anointing oil,” as the verse says, was a blend made up at least four separate herbs. One of these ingredients used by the Israelites is usually rendered in English translations as “aromatic cane” (or something similarly vague). However, Jane Marcus at the Huffington Post points out that some scholars believe that this “aromatic cane” may have been a form of cannabis. For example, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, in The Living Torah, writes “that some sources identify [the Hebrew words translated as] ‘fragrant cane’ … with the English and Greek word ‘cannabis,’ referring to the hemp plant.” Marcus also adds, “The Ben Yehuda Hebrew-English Dictionary, written by Eliezer Ben Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, defines the Hebrew word ‘kanabos’ as hemp, a botanical relative of marijuana.” In her article, Jane Marcus concludes,
“The ancients had no problem using this plant along with other healing herbs and medicinal plants. Perhaps it was because of its many potentially healing properties that they chose to invest this particular plant with holiness by blending it into the sacred oil.”

Finally, there are Christians who interpret a passage in the Book of Revelation as referring to or even being fulfilled by the modern use medicinal cannabis.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 11:1–2, NIV)
Whether literal or metaphor, the cannabis plant—and especially the CBD oil derived from it—do seem to fit these verses well.
Writer’s Bio:
Trevor Antley

Trevor Antley is a writer, editor, and historian. He was raised in Louisiana but has lived most of last ten years in Utah. He studied history, classical languages, and editing at Brigham Young University. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or his personal website TrevorAntley.com.

Christian Justification for Legalizing Cannabis

Christian Justification for Legalizing Cannabis


by Trevor Antley

Some Christians believe that the Bible endorses the use of marijuana or that legalizing medical cannabis is something God would endorse. For example, Christians who believe the Bible supports the use of marijuana most commonly cite this verse from Genesis:

God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:29, NRSV)

The same biblical idea from Genesis is reinforced a few chapters later as well:

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Genesis 9:3, NRSV)

For some Christians, and even some ministers and pastors, these verses alone justify partaking in cannabis—after all, God gave us every plant. In his famous commentary on the Bible, the theologian Albert Barnes gave the following interpretation of Genesis 1:29:

“Every herb bearing seed and tree bearing fruit is granted to man for his sustenance. … As usual in Scripture the chief parts are put for the whole, and accordingly this specification of the ordinary and the obvious covers the general principle that whatever part of the vegetable kingdom is convertible into food by the ingenuity of man is free for his use.”

If this clearly justifies the use of cannabis for Christians, then why not legalize it as a medicinal pain killer? It has been clinically proven that cannabis helps dull neuropathic pain with virtually no side effects. For example, a 2015 clinical trial published in Canadian Family Physician concluded, “The current evidence suggests that very low-dose medical marijuana (<34 mg/d) is associated with an improvement in refractory neuropathic pain of moderate severity in adults using concurrent analgesics.” Or a 2012 meta-study that concluded, “Evidence is growing that cannabis can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, presenting a safe and viable alternative or adjunct to pharmaceutical opiates,” as well as noting that “cannabis has the potential to both relieve suffering for those suffering from chronic pain, and to reduce morbidity and mortality often associated the use and abuse of pharmaceutical opiates.”

On a New Jersey radio show, ‘Pastor Bill’ called on “every pastor, every minister, every church across the country should jump on board and get marijuana legal. … When you have the pain levels that I have, or even like the last gentleman … where he was fighting because he had so many things regarding pain. It’s disgusting. Every church should jump on board. God gave us this plant to help us.”

‘Pastor Bill’ is not the only one who believes cannabis should be legalized. According to the Huffington Post, “Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for several prominent evangelicals including Franklin Graham and Hobby Lobby founder Steve Green, admits he takes a view that might not be held by most Christian leaders.”

DeMoss’s reasoning was slightly different, however, than Pastor Bill’s reasons. Mark DeMoss explained to the Post, “When 50 percent of our prison beds are occupied by nonviolent offenders, we have prison overcrowding problems and violent offenders serving shortened sentences, I have a problem with incarceration for possession of marijuana.”

But whatever the reasoning for legalizing cannabis, I am sure Pastor Bill and other Christians who want to buy marijuana legally would welcome their support in their call for “every pastor, every minister, [and] every church” to “get marijuana legal.”

Some large churches and religious organizations are lining up in support for medical cannabis as well, although most are not the conservative Christian churches and movements in the United States. Still, the list contains several influential and respected religions and churches, including the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, the Union for Reformed Judaism, the Progressive National Baptists Convention, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Church of Christ.

Individual clergy from different faiths, numbering about 60 in Pennsylvania and dubbing themselves “Clergy for Compassion,” have also announced their support for legalized medical marijuana. In their official statement, these diverse clergy wrote,

“Across Pennsylvania, there are patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, ALS, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and other debilitating conditions for which medical cannabis has been found to provide significant medical benefits. Some find it to be the most effective way — or, in some cases, the only way — to effectively treat their maladies or the symptoms associated with them. Nobody should have to break the law in order to ease their suffering or that of a loved one.

“We cannot remain silent while people in pain and anguish are deprived of a viable, safe, and responsible remedy.”

Rabbi George Stern, executive director of the Jewish Social Policy Action Network, stated simply his reasons for supporting the group and their effort to legalize cannabis: “Jewish tradition teaches that we have both private and public obligations to heal illness and treat pain.”

Another member of this group, Pastor Shawn Berkebile, said,

“I have always believed that God calls us to speak for the voiceless, the suffering, and the hurting. There are people suffering right now — in our homes, at our places of work, in line at the grocery store, and sitting in our houses of worship. Medical marijuana is providing hope for the hopeless and I want the lawmakers of Pennsylvania to realize this.”

Clearly churches and religious organizations listed above and these sixty clergy from different faiths do not see anything contradictory in their religion or in their scripture that should indicate cannabis, especially medical cannabis, should be illegal. In fact, they see it as quite the opposite. ‘Pastor Bill,’ and many others, believe the Bible supports the legalization of marijuana because the Bible states God gave man every seed-yielding plant. Other clergy, like Rabbi George Stern and Pastor Shawn Berkebile, see the justification for legalizing cannabis is because their religions and their scriptures teach compassion, healing, and help for the suffering—which they recognize can be achieved through medical cannabis for not only forms of chronic pain but for a number of other conditions.

Trevor Antley is a writer, editor, and historian. He was raised in Louisiana but has lived most of last ten years in Utah. He studied history, classical languages, and editing at Brigham Young University. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or his personal website TrevorAntley.com.

What does God think of the recreational use of pot?

What does God think of the recreational use of pot?

Medicinal Marijuana vs. Recreational Marijuana: Are they the same in God’s eyes?

By Kymberlee Smith

Marijuana: a heated debate for quite some time and a sensitive subject to many Christians. As it is being legalized in more states across the nation, the push to hardline the morality of marijuana is becoming stronger and stronger. Different standards are taught from different pulpits, and the argument on either side can be very convincing. But what does God have to say about marijuana?

Pastor Steve Myers poses this very question: “Do we not bother to think about God’s perspective on it?” He then points to the Bible for answers:

Galatians 5:19-21 NASB Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…
those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Myers emphasizes the word sorcery, a word we are warned about repeatedly throughout the Bible. He points out that the Greek translation of the word sorcery is ‘pharmakeia,’ which is the same Greek word in which we get the word ‘pharmacy.’ Many Christians interpret this to be pointing to the evils of modern pharmaceuticals. Is this accurate? And what does this have to do with marijuana, a natural plant?

The root meaning of the Greek words associated to sorcery are ‘magic,’ ‘druggist,’ or ‘giver of potions.’ A sorcerer in the Bible was referring to someone who dispensed potions, or drugs. Again, this is oftentimes interpreted by Christians as a reference to modern doctors. However, it is interesting to note that physicians, healers, and medicine are also all mentioned numerous times in the Bible. They, too, are words that reference the administration of drugs, but are intentionally segregated from sorcery. In the Bible, sorcery comes with a warning every time.

Another substance that constantly comes with a warning throughout the Bible is alcohol (wine). Although the Bible never says to abstain from it completely, several verses warn against overconsumption, and the intoxicating effects that wine can have. Drunkenness is mentioned on many occasions in association with inhibiting the Spirit of God. This would lead us to believe that, perhaps, sorcerers used and dispensed drugs or potions that had some type of intoxicating or hallucinogenic effects, either for recreation or pseudo-spiritual purposes with intent to deceive or lead followers away from the Spirit.

In the verse above, the Apostle Paul warned against the deeds of the flesh: the behaviors that will keep someone from the kingdom of God. Among them are sorcery (inappropriate drug use) and drunkenness (overconsumption of alcohol).

But what happens when a drug can be used to stop seizures in children, but that same drug can also be used to intoxicate? What happens if this medicinal but psychoactive “drug” is totally natural? After all, God said:

Genesis 9:3 NASB Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

Genesis 1:29 NASB Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

Cannabis is a seed yielding plant found naturally growing in many places around the globe. The missing link here is, perhaps, the misunderstanding of cannabis itself: what it is, what it does, and what it is capable of. Could it be possible that God put this plant on the Earth to benefit us, but we have found ways to use it incorrectly (just like we can misuse over the counter medications, prescription drugs, and alcohol)?

Many Christians are surprised to learn that it’s not marijuana itself that intoxicates, it’s actually a compound found in the marijuana plant that has psychoactive effects. Cannabis is home to over 85 different chemical compounds unique only to the cannabis plant, called cannabinoids. The intoxicating effect of marijuana is all thanks to one of over eighty-five cannabinoids. This particular cannabinoid, called tetrahydrocannabinol (or, THC), is what makes marijuana illegal in most places. But THC does more than get you high: it has been linked to the successful treatment of a variety of conditions, from glaucoma to pancreatic cancer. But because we can isolate the compounds in the plant, scientists were able to discover other cannabinoids that also have incredible medicinal benefits, but with no intoxicating side effects.

Enter cannabidiol, or, the cannabinoid known as CBD. CBD has been linked to treating an astonishing variety of conditions, and has absolutely no psychoactive side effects. It can be administered a number of ways, including orally, topically, or even as a suppository, largely depending on what you are treating. It has been proven safe for children and can be used without entering the blood stream. Again, using this cannabinoid correctly won’t get you “high” or make you fail a drug test. Even better? The cannabis sativa L. plant has a handful of different varieties, one of which you may have heard of: industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is non psychoactive and purchasing quality products made with industrial hemp from reputable companies is totally legal.

Cannabis, it seems – a natural growing drug – can be used for both ‘sorcery’ and ‘healing.’ Since marijuana is never directly referenced anywhere in the Bibles pages, it can be difficult to blur the lines.

It’s important to remember that – just like anything – drugs can be used to benefit, or harm. A drug administered to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s would not be considered the same as a drug used to intentionally intoxicate or hallucinate.

Pastor Myers explains why the word sorcery comes with caution in the Bible: “They didn’t repent of …their use of drugs. The kind of use of drugs that’s going to put them in a state of mind that they don’t have full control of themselves. Because that’s exactly opposite of what God wants for us. God says, He’s given us us a spirit of love, and of a sound mind. A mind that is in control of our senses.” He stresses the importance of keeping control of ourselves, what goes into our minds and what comes out of our mouths. This applies to anything from alcohol to opioids – legally distributed substances, when used incorrectly, can alter the mind and become addictive and even destructive:

Proverbs 22:21 Drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. Later, it bites like a snake and strikes like a poisonous snake….Your eyes will see strange sights and your mouth will say embarrassing things

The Bible is full of warnings when it comes to intoxication and mind altering substances. Ultimately, God specifically wants us to keep our minds and hearts clear – clear of chatter, clutter, anxiety, and yes, substances that could inhibit His Spirit. Marijuana, when used incorrectly, can be spiritually destructive and physically intoxicating. It is not, however, a ‘gateway drug,’ it is not linked to death or injury (Understanding Marijuana: A New Look At Scientific Evidence, pg. 49-50) and when used correctly can change peoples lives for the better. If you are considering cannabis as an alternative treatment, it is important to educate yourself, speak to a trusted physician, and always dose correctly.

Matthew 15:11 It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.

Kymberlee Smith is a writer by day, musician by night, and still finds time to knit sweaters for her dog, Dexter.  She is passionate about educating herself and others in regards to cannabinoids and hopes to be a voice in rebranding them along with other alternative methods for medicine.  Follow her on Twitter @kymsmithter

Pastor Gets it right! Alcohol and Marijuana: Use and Abuse in Christianity

Pastor Gets it right! Alcohol and Marijuana: Use and Abuse in Christianity


Alcohol vs Marijuana: Both are intoxicating substances. Does that make them the the same in God’s eyes?
By Kymberlee Smith

No matter where or how you grew up, substance use and abuse was likely taught to you in some way or another. Behind the doors of various churches lie many different standards taught when it comes to alcohol. Jim Burgens speaks of this openly during a sermon at Flatirons Church in Colorado:

“I had bought a lie,” he begins boldly. “All my Christian life I was told that drinking beer meant that I wasn’t a good Christian, I didn’t love Jesus enough, and that I didn’t care about causing other people to stumble.”

Many Christians can relate to this, whether they continue to abstain from alcohol or not. But if alcohol is forbidden, why do so many Christians still drink?

An interesting fact about alcoholic beverages is that they were considered to be a perfectly acceptable by many Christians and non-believers alike, up until the Temperance Movement (early 19th century). This was a period of time -not so long ago -that greatly inspired the Prohibition over a century later. Advocating for complete abstinence or beer over hard liquor, “…pastors, civic leaders, and especially women argued that liquor destroyed lives, ravaged families, eroded morality, and contributed to crime.” (link)

To substantiate this argument, the Bible specifically warns about intoxication in multiple verses:

Proverbs 20:1 NIV Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Ephesians 5:18 NIV Do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

However, not once in the Bible does it say that it is not okay to drink alcohol.

“…and I allowed myself to be imprisoned by people-made religious rules.” Burgens continues in his sermon, “That’s not in the Bible, Jesus never said it, and it’s not true….Drinking alcohol in moderation doesn’t make you a bad Christian.”

Burgens then dares to cross a controversial Christian line in his next statement:

“Using medical marijuana doesn’t make you a pot head or a bad person.”

Are we to assume that as long as marijuana is being used wisely – in a controlled environment, in moderation – that it’s okay for Christians to light up? It’s not quite that cut and dry, according to Burgens:

“Now, I can’t make blanket statements. Let’s be honest: for most people smoking weed has nothing to do with their cancer,” he pauses, alluding to recreational marijuana use.

They key word in Burgens sermon may be the “medical” before the “marijuana.” This can make all the difference to some Christians, or anyone who is still unsure about using cannabis as an alternative treatment. We know that marijuana can legally be used recreationally and medically in many states, but what many people are unaware of is that not all marijuana is created equal. Sure, there are hundreds of different strains of the plant, but there are many different methods of administering those strains, and many of these methods won’t even get you high.

Through many years of research, scientists have been able to break down the different chemical compounds (called cannabinoids) that are unique to the cannabis plant. Even better, by isolating each compound, they were able to discover what made them different, how they each can affect the body, and as a result, how they can be used to treat different conditions. A brief example:

THC: Short for tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the compound in cannabis responsible for the intoxicating effects recreational marijuana users typically desire. Studies are also finding that THC can aid in a wide range of conditions, from treating cold sores to pancreatic cancer.

CBD: Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an amazing find within the cannabis plant. Unlike THC, CBD has zero psychoactive side effect. This means there is no chance of getting high with this compound. It has been found to be successful in treating an impressive number of ailments.

If CBD is all benefit and no intoxication, what makes it so controversial? This may seem like a rhetorical question, but many Christians are still apprehensive about medical marijuana. This can largely be due to the negative social stigma that smoking can have. This is why CBD, in particular, is such good news for many people. Besides not having any intoxicating effects, CBD oil can be administered multiple different ways. Along with smoking it, CBD oil can also be taken orally, used topically, or even as a suppository.

CBD oil is typically made by soaking the cannabis plant in ethanol, which extracts the CBD from the plant matter. The alcohol acts as a carrier for the CBD until the last step: evaporation. The CBD infused ethanol is carefully heated until it is completely evaporated and only the CBD oil is left. This potent oil can then be used to make lotions, salves, tablets, and many other products. Again, this particular cannabinoid is associated with zero psychoactive reactions. It is important to note that the quality and strain of cannabis really counts when making CBD oil. Please exercise caution when choosing a product, and especially when extracting at home.

Although the Bible never specifically mentions cannabis, we know that cannabis is a plant, a natural herb that God put on this planet along with every other herb and plant:

Genesis 9:3 NIV Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

“I am done with religion, and stupid rules that somebody other than Jesus thought up for my own good.” Burgens says passionately.

He makes it very clear that marijuana can be used wisely and unwisely, and to use judgement regarding the plant. From aspirin to sugar, too much of almost anything is still too much. There are absolutely potential spiritual and physical risks to cannabis. Marijuana, when used improperly, can cloud the mind and potentially inhibit the Spirit. Alternatively, it is believed to aid in meditation and prayer in many users. If you decide to opt for any type of cannabis as a medical alternative, it is important to consult your doctor, educate yourself, and ultimately decide if it is right for you.

Marijuana: Is It Immoral?

Marijuana: Is It Immoral?


By Kymberlee Smith

Cannabis: You’ve heard of it, you’ve seen it, you may have even used it at some point in your life. There is a lot of controversy about both recreational and medical marijuana use. This topic can feel particularly heavy in the Christian world, especially when it can seem unclear about what is right and what is wrong. There is growing evidence that medical marijuana can treat or aid in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Adversely, lines in the Bible can seem blurred, and contradicting standards are being taught from different pulpits all over the nation.

If you have never been in a situation where you’ve needed to weigh medical marijuana as an option to treat a medical condition, it can be easy to jump to conclusions about the plant and what it is. Because of the negative social stigma using cannabis can have, Christians in particular can be prone to shy away from considering the use of marijuana in place of or in addition to pharmaceuticals. But what do you do if you -or a loved one – needs to be treated for something like chronic pain, PTSD, or cancer? What happens if they experience adverse effects of the prescribed medication, and need to find an alternative route?

When people hear “marijuana,” they often associate it with smoking pot or eating weed brownies to get high. This is simply not always the case, and as efforts are moving forward in medical cannabis use, we are learning more about this plant and why it is being met with so much success as a medicine. As Christians, this can be a tricky line to walk. There are dozens of Bible verses warning about intoxication:

1 Peter 5:8 KJV “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

These solemn warnings are enough to make many Christians turn away from the intoxicating effects of marijuana. Before ruling it out completely, it’s important to understand what cannabis is and how it can be used when treating a medical condition.

Cannabis carries over 85 “cannabinoids” (another word for the different chemical compounds unique to cannabis). The exact number varies as research is still being conducted, and we are learning new things about the plant every day. There are a handful of cannabinoids that have been studied quite in depth, however, and have been found to be notably successful in treating a variety of ailments. You may have heard of the chemical compounds THC and CBD. They are the two most popular and well-researched cannabinoids found in the plant so far. What is surprising to some is that scientists have been able to isolate the cannabinoids and study them in great detail, individually. Because of this, we know that THC is the cannabinoid directly responsible for intoxication, whereas CBD has no known side effects. This is important especially for people who want the benefits that marijuana can offer, without getting the high. Many people find it shocking that not all cannabis and cannabis treatments will have intoxicating effects. This is because not all cannabinoids were created equal.

There are a wide variety of options available when it comes to administering cannabinoids. CBD oil, for example, can not only be used orally but topically as well. This is beneficial when treating a localized area (for things like chronic pain from arthritis or certain skin conditions). Because the layers of the skin are naturally resistant to cannabinoids, the CBD cannot enter the bloodstream (that is, unless you are using something like a transdermal patch, which are specially formulated to pass through the skin and circulate the system). CBD topicals stay right where you put it, meaning all benefit, no intoxication.

But what does God say about marijuana use? Not much, actually, which adds to the confusion regarding the plant. There are some Bible verses that may allude to the use of cannabis, however it is still met with apprehension by many Christians because these verses can be interpreted a multitude of ways. “It’s a natural herb,” Pastor John states. “It’s something that God put here on earth. Weed in a controlled environment…has a lot of benefits and a lot of opportunity to help people.” Pastor John is careful to warn, however, “…I know the world of alcohol and drugs can lead people to hell, and people can go through hell, and I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with addiction.”

And this may, in fact, be the key. The intoxication and, in severe cases, dependancy that can come with certain forms of cannabis use is one of the biggest reasons for controversy among Christians. The Bible warns over and over against intoxication, losing self control, and inhibiting the Holy Spirit. Although marijuana is never mentioned specifically, it is safe to assume that verses referncing alcohol abuse can also be translated over to any substance that has the power to intoxicate or inhibit the Spirit. However, the main caution in these verses typically point to excess consumption:

“…be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 KJV

Alternatively, some verses seem to encourage wine in moderation:

“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:23 NIV

“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” Ecclesiastes 9:7 NIV

These may seem contradictory, when in reality this is simply a case of how anything (like wine) can be used for evil or good. We see many examples of that throughout the written Word. This is what Pastor John clarifies further when he says (regarding marijuana), “I want to be careful about saying it’s okay for everyone. Some people can handle a glass of wine, some people cannot.” He says this, stressing the importance of moderation if you decide to treat with medical marijuana.

The takeaway from this is, there can definitely be potential spiritual risks with using the herb. “Evil personified is in the world of drugs and alcohol, and I’ve seen a lot of people throw away their lives for that,” Pastor John warns. If you decide that medical marijuana is the right option for you, it’s important to exercise caution, as it is with any drug: “…it’s no different than giving someone Ativan, or SSRI inhibitors, or Prozac…” He continued, “Do it carefully.” Bottom line is to educate yourself, consult your doctor, always dose correctly, and, most importantly, do what you feel is right for you.

Kymberlee Smith

Kymberlee Smith is a writer by day, musician by night, and still finds time to knit sweaters for her dog, Dexter. She is passionate about educating herself and others in regards to cannabinoids and hopes to be a voice in rebranding them along with other alternative methods for medicine. Follow her on Twitter @kymsmithter

Pastor Ray Cristl: Cannabis Use is Legal and a Church Sacrament

Pastor Ray Cristl: Cannabis Use is Legal and a Church Sacrament


In a filmed Easter message in 1994, Assistant pastor Ray Cristl of the Religion of Jesus Church in Maui gave an aloha message to the people of the islands.  The principle purpose of the message was to discuss the sanctified use of marijuana in his church and in people’s private lives. The Hawaiian penal code now allows for legal use of cannabis, and Cristl made the argument that cannabis can be used in many useful products and be used to solve many social problems. As a religious leader, Cristl stated that cannabis, like the intoxicant Jesus created in His first miracle, is allowed in the kingdom of heaven on earth. Cannabis can be used as a sacrament of the church, and it has never been shown to cause death as alcohol and tobacco can. Education for children is needed, and Pastor Cristl asked listeners to help the church spread this message.

As an Easter message in 1997,  Pastor Ray Christl, the assistant/associate pastor of the Religion of Jesus Church, gave a message specifically to people of Maui and throughout the islands of Hawaii.  Dressed in a Hawaiian attire but not of Hawaiian descent, Pastor Christl devoted his message to the now legal opportunity to use cannabis in citizen’s private lives and to the sanctity of using cannabis as a spiritual symbol and sacrament within the Religion of Jesus Church.

He began his sermon with the message for people to pray for an amelioration of the drug use problem in the Hawaiian community. For many years, Pastor Christl has provided education in Maui about the instances and uses of medical cannabis for the sick, dying, and elderly. On Hawaiian television, the Dialogue show on Hawaiian Public Television, he states he had a loving and good debate with DEA officers, the Honolulu vice commander. and doctors. In terms of marijuana use, about ways to problem-solve the uses of marijuana.  The police admitted that many people are being victimized by criminals for using medical marijuana. As the loving conversation evolved,  it was decided that the problem of marijuana will be discussed in the future as a medical and religious issue. This will take the fear out of marijuana use. The Hawaiian penal code 712-1420-1, buried for twenty years, offers a defense for medical marijuana.  It states that if one is in need, a doctor or religious practitioner can prescribe the use of cannabis. People have to right to pursue happiness and to heal themselves, and this is included in the penal code.

Pastor Christl then began to talk about publications which underscore the harmful effects of such intoxicants as tobacco and alcohol.  He also referred to the story of Jesus who turned water into wine at a wedding feast. This was Jesus’ first miracle. Creating wine underscores the fact that Jesus has given permission in his church to use intoxicants.  People are free to choose intoxicants in their lives.  Doctors and educational facilitators there is a defense to teach you how to grow marijuana in your house and to learn how to heal yourself. While many deaths in the United States are caused by tobacco and alcohol, no deaths from marijuana use have ever been substantiated. It has not been documented that there is a lethal dose of marijuana.

As justification, Christl and the church are trying to put on an armor, a body armor, which is the law. Although the law is not publicized, it states the religious use of cannabis is now legal.  The Religion of Jesus Church says the church and sacrament are now legal under the Freedom Restoration Act of Religion in 1994. The church does not try to hide the use of cannabis.

There has also been an executive order that industrial hemp can be legally used as a resource for fiber. The cellulose from the plant can also be used to build homes or automobiles.  Henry Ford actually made a model of a car made out of plastic made from hemp. Ford also stated that cannabis could be used as lubricants and as fuel for the car.  These are natural resources given to us by God to solve problems.

In The National Review, conservative right scholar William F. Buckley stated 17 points about the need to seek harm reduction of and the “immediate relaxation of laws against the use of cannabis for even recreational use.”  The Religion of Jesus Church’s holds the goal to convince Hawaiian mayors, county councils, state supreme court, and the legislature is to allow cannabis in homes until further studies of cannabis use in Amsterdam is complete.

Ancient shamans and royalty have used cannabis in their lives and religion.  The use of cannabis has a 12,000-year history. Slaves and shamans from ancient India to the peoples of Africa to the shamans in Egypt used cannabis.  The marijuana plant was sacred, and yet today, law enforcement tries to obliterate fields of the plant. Today, cannabis is cultivated to be used as products, paper, paper, food, and medicine.  Cannabis does not cure disease, but it is a comforter like The Holy Spirit.  It is an analgesic.  In the times of Jesus, women who died in childbirth were found to have hashish in their stomachs.

Research has shown there are cannabis receptor sites in the brain. In other words, there is a marijuana site in the brain (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18426493). When sites are maxed out, the receptor sites shut down.  Overuse of cannabis hurts. Pastor recommends using marijuana occasionally, especially in times of stress.

Pastor Cristl asks that he be invited to speak to children. The church stands for truth, and if we could talk to children, we could postpone the early use of the drug. Children now see marijuana as a forbidden fruit.

The pastor asks that people invite him to speak to church or community groups, and he encourages an open discussion.  He wished all a wonderful Aloha through the Easter season.  

Writer’s Bio:  Kay Smith has been a public school administrator and English educator for over 35 years.  After retiring as an associate English professor at Utah Valley University, she began work in teacher development at Nomen Global Language School in Provo, Utah.  Currently, she is the chair of Women United of Utah County.