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    Q: #188. What is wrong with a Christian smoking marijuana (weed)?

By: Steve Shirley

    A: Contrary to what many believe, marijuana is NOT a harmless drug. Let me address some of these health issues.

     Marijuana contains over 400 different chemicals, but the main one is THC (delta-9-tetrahyrdocannabinol). This is the drug that alters the mind and causes the "high" that users crave. How high a person gets depends mainly on how the marijuana is used (i.e. smoked, eaten, brewed, etc...) and how potent it is (it can vary depending on how it is grown). It should be noted that marijuana in general today is much more powerful than it used to be.

     The high begins almost immediately after the drug is ingested and causes numerous mental changes including: memory loss, inability to concentrate, lack of time perception and coordination, and learning problems. Some of these can even last for days after the drug is used. There are also physical changes such as: increased heart rate (up to 50% higher and lasting for up to 3 hours), bloodshot eyes, increased appetite (the munchies), and dry mouth and throat.

     While these may seem relatively harmless, there are worse risks as well. With an increased heart rate comes an increased risk of heart attack (I read up to 4 times greater risk). The damage to the lungs is far greater than cigarette use (cigarette smoking and marijuana use often go hand in hand). There are mainly 3 reasons why this is so:

1. Marijuana is smoked unfiltered which causes greater damage than filtered cigarettes.
2. Marijuana has twice (or more) the cancer causing carcinogens of cigarette smoke.
3. Marijuana smokers usually hold the smoke in their lungs on purpose for a longer time to increase their high which causes more damage.

     Obviously, this can also lead to serious breathing problems.

     Studies have shown that people who habitually use marijuana have weaker immune systems and miss more work due to illness. They also tend to struggle more with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and aggressive behavior.
(It should be fairly obvious that if a person wants to take a drug to alter their mood or thinking, they aren't too happy with their life as it is.)

     A common myth concerning marijuana is that it is not addictive. According to WebMD, about 4% of all Americans smoke marijuana at least once a year, and many of these may not be harmed. However, 1 in 300 users ARE addicted. Nearly any drug treatment center can tell you that they have treated marijuana addicts. In addition, WebMD states that 1 in 12 occasional users may feel withdrawal type symptoms if they can't use marijuana when they want to. It should also be noted that nearly every person who is addicted to other drugs (i.e. cocaine, heroin, etc...) started their drug use by first using marijuana.

     Having said all of this, for the Christian, there are other issues to consider as well.

     First, as Christians, our body is God's Temple (1 Cor 6:19-20)(1 Cor 3:16-17) because God actually lives inside of us in the form of the Holy Spirit when we are born again. Because of this, we should avoid using anything that can have a harmful effect on God's Temple. Obviously, as we have shown above, this applies to marijuana or any other drug including tobacco (Q: #179) or alcohol (See: drinking).

     Secondly, the Bible says that God wants us to have a clear mind and to be self controlled (1 Pet 5:8)(2 Cor 10:5)(Gal 5:23)(2 Pet 1:6)(Gal 5:23)(1 Cor 9:25-27)(Titus 1:8)(Titus 2:2). When we fail to do this, it opens a door for Satanic attack. When one's mind is clouded by marijuana and inhibitions are lowered, a person is more likely to engage in (sinful) behavior that they might not ordinarily do (i.e. premarital sex).

     Thirdly, your marijuana use could destroy another person's life. If an unbeliever, or even another Christian, knows you are a Christian and sees you smoking, he may decide, "Hey, if _____ is using marijuana then maybe it's okay for me to use it too." He may decide to take up using it himself, or not quit because of you! Your actions might cause another person to sin! It might be the first step to an addiction problem for them, or it could later lead them to use other drugs! Is it worth doing something that might cause these problems for an unbeliever or fellow Christian? Regarding causing a fellow Christian to stumble in their walk with the Lord, I speak more about the dangers of this in my study: Are You A Stumbling Block?

     Finally, let me close with this simple, yet (amazingly) rarely mentioned aspect of marijuana use. IT IS ILLEGAL! Yes, it is against the law to use marijuana! Are you as a Christian going to defend breaking the law? The Bible is quite clear in a number of places that we are to obey the government and laws of this land (as long as they don't conflict with God's laws). For more on this, please see my study: Submitting To Government.

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