Pastor’s Ponderings

“Envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God…” – Galatians 5:21

There are many reasons to be ashamed of Illinois’ leadership in recent months.  There was the unpopular gas tax (19 cents more for a gallon of gas starting July 1st).  And, there’s the ghastly move by the governor to allow full-term abortions in Illinois, even up to the moment of birth!  That will be the focus of another article.  But, for now, I’d like to look at the marijuana issue.  You probably know Illinois has become the 11th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

When I’m asked about this matter, I tell people I don’t like it.  Their eyes get big and they ask what could possibly be wrong with it.  I remind them marijuana is not allowed for sale or recreational consumption at the federal level.  It’s still a federal crime to use marijuana recreationally.  Why is that?  Because it’s not good for you!  (My observation is that a majority of people favoring the use of marijuana recreationally, already have been doing it!!)

Problems associated with habitual marijuana use are on the rise.  Psychiatrists are worried about increasing mental health problems.  Psychiatrist Karl Benzio has treated many patients struggling with marijuana addiction.  They suffer from side effects typically associated with the drug: difficulty concentrating, apathy, and that compulsion for the next high.  Earlier this year, a team of European researchers found daily users of high-potency marijuana were five times more likely to have a psychotic disorder.

Most people have no idea marijuana can cause such serious problems because it never used to.  So why do so many people still think it’s harmless?  Alex Berenson is a former New York Times reporter who recently wrote a book about the scientific evidence connecting marijuana and psychosis.  He blames advocates of medical marijuana for influencing public perception about the drug’s dangers.  “That’s arguably the worst thing that’s happened with legalization, is that we are pretending that this is medicine.  It is not medicine.  It is a recreational intoxicant. People use it to get high.”  Marijuana does not cure anything.  It is used purely for symptoms.

Dr. Amy Givler with the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) in her May 23, 2019 article ‘Unmasking Medical Marijuana’ notes, “The public perception is that marijuana is safe, though the facts prove quite otherwise.  In the short-term, marijuana impairs memory, motor coordination and judgment.  With long-term use, marijuana can cause addiction, chronic bronchitis, diminished lifetime achievement, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety, apathy and progression to other drugs.  For those who use it during adolescence, there is a greater risk of dropping out of school, abnormal brain development and developing a chronic psychosis disorder.  The number of motor vehicle crashes caused by driver impairment due to marijuana is skyrocketing.”

Jeff Hunt at Colorado Christian University wrote in USA Today, the woes brought upon our state by legalized weed are significant: an increase in drug related traffic deaths and poison control calls, a growing black market, and marijuana related arrests for minority youth.  Not to mention, it’s proven impossible to regulate, and to keep in state and out of schools.  For all the promises of tax revenues being generated for education, one school superintendent retorted bluntly, “So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.”

Karl Benzio has also seen God’s incredible power to heal and redeem.  “Even though we’ve made mistakes, we’ve sinned, we’ve done wrong things, whether using marijuana or the things we do when we use marijuana, that there’s God’s grace and love to be able to heal from those things and to lead impactful lives.”

If something has been a crime for a long time, and all of a sudden there’s a great roar for change, I don’t jump on the bandwagon.  I rather stand back, observe and analyze what’s going on, and kick around in my head why a change would even be necessary.  I’m here to tell you, there’s no need to legalize marijuana recreationally.  There’s a lot of money in it for some, and that’s why they’re in it – but legalization of pot brings with it a whole host of problems not previously anticipated by those legalizing it.

As a pastor, I don’t like gambling for the same reason.  The people most hurt by gambling are the people who can’t afford to buy numbers or lottery tickets.  Similarly, the people most hurt by consuming marijuana recreationally are those who are ill-informed, or outright lied to, by those seeking to legalize it.

God created government to protect people – God didn’t design government to hurt the very people He expects it to protect.  It would be a great idea to contact the governor’s office and share your disfavor with the terrible decisions he’s enacted in the first 6 months of his term.

It’s possible some reading this article will be disappointed in my views.  They may not hold my views as their own.  I get that; people are different, and everyone has an opinion.  But, kick this around in your mind.  Would you feel comfortable with your daughter riding around in a car driven by a young man who’s on a marijuana high?  Of course you wouldn’t.  You want what’s best for your children and grandchildren.

And, so it should be when it comes to marijuana.  You can do far better than be doped up on a marijuana high.  That’s escaping the problem.  We must be men and women of courage and conviction, and help our young ones handle the stressors of life biblically.

Haven’t seen some of you in quite a while.  See you Sunday? – Pastor Daren

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