In the last several months, we’ve seen a definitive shift in public opinion, which is increasingly in favor of repealing current marijuana laws in both federal and state jurisdictions.
To the liberal-minded politician’s viewpoint, the tax incentives and the ability to database medical users (at least in Colorado, where I used to live), as well as the ability to tell said users that they no longer have the option of owning a gun is enough to get them on board with the whole pot thing. And the added side effect of having a docile population in the vicinity of the world’s most secretive underground military base is probably a plus, too.
However, it has only been about a year that we’ve heard any kind of positive arguments for marijuana legalization/decriminalization out of the conservative faction of the U.S. political sphere:
Overall, 24 percent of respondents said pot “should not be legal under any circumstances.” The other 76 percent backed medical marijuana, legalized marijuana for any purpose in small amounts, or legalized marijuana for any purpose in any amount.
The poll asked respondents if they’re liberal, moderate or conservative. Among conservatives only, here’s the breakdown of how they answered pot questions (expressed in percentage of self-described conservatives):
Remain illegal — 31%
Medicinal only — 40%
Legal for any purpose, small amounts — 20%
Legal for any purpose, unlimited amount — 9%
When it comes to actually legalizing marijuana, we only (really) have two states to turn to for experience: Colorado and Washington (Oregon’s rec program is still in it’s infancy, even though it was briefly legal during the 1970’s). Chris and I have had experiences in both states with both medical and recreational shops. When it comes to recreational marijuana, the general attitude is much, much different.
While medical marijuana dispensaries are very focused on wellness and symptom treatment, the recreational facilities seem to be based on a frame of mind focused solely on “getting baked legally” or “sticking it to the man” while still paying $700 for an ounce of mediocre product (For medical patients, the price is somewhere around $150-300 an ounce, depending on where you go). While medical patients are allowed to smell and look closer at the actual product, recreational shops must treat any open bag of marijuana as if it’s a bio-hazard, similar to a chemical spill. They are also not allowed to promote cannabis as an actual “health product”, meaning that people who don’t have their prescription yet can’t find out what they even need to treat their symptoms.
The way both states are handling legalization seems to be anything but “liberal”.
As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.
This is something that conservatives, in particular, would see if they could stop with the knee-jerk reactions to marijuana that they were likely raised with. This is, thankfully, changing slowly with time.
In fact, it’s for this reason that I’m especially cautious when it comes to laws banning plants. I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.
Also another point – how can we allow the government to ban plants? An even bigger point – How can we allow the government to tax and regulate plants that could grow on the side of the road?
In the name of protecting the public, certain substances have been declared evil and contraband. So evil are these substances that state and federal agents are empowered to enforce laws with little to no regard for constitutional protections of individual rights, the sanctity of one’s home or the right to travel freely.
And there’s the rub – there’s where the division between liberals and conservatives comes in, and the true purpose of the legalization of marijuana finally comes out – it’s about constitutional rights.
It’s not about “getting high”, or even “treating illness compassionately”, as our current government would have you believe.
It’s about the right of the individual to be protected in their own home, and to be able to “pursue happiness” by using the plants that God put on this earth to enrich our lives.
And before you go off thinking, “Well, Christians (aka, “Christ Himself”) can’t possibly be for using cannabis recreationally, right?”, Mr. Simpson has this to say:
The Bible warns about excessive drinking, eating and sleeping (Proverbs 23:21), but it doesn’t ban the activities or the substances or conditions associated with them — alcohol, food and fatigue. Elsewhere, feasting and wine are recognized as blessings from God.
Scripture stresses respect for our neighbor’s liberty and conscience, moderation for all and abstinence for some.
Should we be concerned for our friends and neighbors who abuse a substance or activity? Yes, we should help them through sincere and voluntary engagement, but not with force and violence.
Is there a place for prohibition? Yes, a prohibition of aggression (Romans 13). Our laws should prohibit and penalize violent acts. This is the jurisdiction of the magistrates under the new covenant — harm to one’s neighbor.
Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor.
I truly hope this is the start of something great in the place I grew up. If this bill is pushed through, with support from both sides of the political aisle, in a traditionally-red state and coming from a rural area of East Texas with predominantly “pre-Palin Tea Party” values, this could be a game-changer for the entire country.
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