Is Your Church Ready for Legalized Pot?


On October 17, marijuana use became legal across all of Canada. On November 6, Michigan voted to join them (as well as Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska) in legalizing pot. What does this mean for your church?

For several years now, there has been an increase in public debate around the use of marijuana as talks of legalization were proposed across North America.

But what does legalizing the recreational use of marijuana mean for Christians? Even more concretely, what impacts will this have on your congregation?

Denominations across the continent have been struggling to comprehend how marijuana use should be approached from a biblical and theological perspective. Most do not have a direct response to this question yet but instead encourage Christians to consider whether marijuana use will benefit those around them or cause harm—and what it means in how we represent the image of God.

How does your church plan to address legalized marijuana? What if members of your congregation begin attending under the influence, how will you respond? Will members be able to smoke pot after the service if smoking cigarettes is allowed? If someone uses marijuana for medicinal reasons will they feel stigmatized by others in your congregation?

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Ok, I'll bite. :-)

All smoking should be prohibited on church property.  I haven't seen anyone smoke on my church's property for decades.  I'm not sure it's formally banned but it probably doesn't have to be.

Using marijuana for medicinal purposes?  Ok, fine, but still no smoking of it, or anything else, on church property.  (By way of explanation, smoking invades the airspace of others).

As a side note, the medicinal elements of marijuana can be extracted and separated from those that create the "high."  I know this from a highly qualified bio-chemist who had actually done this for family members for quite some time now.  It can also be cultivated to diminish it as a "high producing" substance while not diminishing the medicinal effects.

In general, marijuana use as a mind altering substance should be viewed as roughly the same as the use of other substances (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, ritalin, other prescribed medications of all kinds, etc).  If council believes a church member is using any substance to recreationally achieve mind alteration, it needs to pay attention to that person.  In what way exactly?  The answer to that question depends on a thousand or more variables.  Human life is complicated.

One more point: from the perspective of US federal law, the sale and use of marijuana is not "legalized."  That fact should not be ignored or overlooked.