With the roll-out of new legislation in Colorado, the doors have been blown off a giant bomb shelter. Cowering within were many Christians now ethically exposed, myself being one of them. You see, up until the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado (and now Washington state), I would dare say most of us Christians were clinging to one primary argument against the distribution of marijuana: “It’s against the law.”
Well, if you are a citizen of the great state of Colorado, it’s no longer against the law. So, my question to you is this: what ethical grounds do you have to tell me I cannot own a Christian marijuana emporium? You can no longer accuse me of breaking the law. My business is not performed on street corners through back-alley handshakes. I’ve got a storefront, my business is registered with the government, and I’m paying taxes on the goods I distribute. So, I ask you again, why do you insist it is unbiblical for me to sell marijuana in Colorado?
Come, let’s put on our ethical thinking caps, stretch our sagging synapses, and really think hard about this moral issue.
Argument #1: It’s an addictive drug.
Very good. I knew you would think of that one. Marijuana is addictive. It chemically alters the state of the person who smokes (or eats) it, rendering them illogical, slow, and at risk to make poor and immoral decisions. A person who is high as a kite is disobeying a clear command of God not to be intoxicated but to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:17-21). In addition, marijuana’s addictive power makes it an ideal idol. People become enslaved to it, seeking contentment and peace in a leaf rather than in God.
However, there are a whole host of other chemical-altering items already in the marketplace. The entire pharmaceuticals market is full of drugs intended to alter the chemical balance of your body and brain. What makes marijuana special? Shouldn’t all chemically altering drugs then be immoral?
And what about other addictive products in the marketplace? A study last year discovered that lab rats find Oreos as addictive as cocaine. People lose restraint at Golden Corral and keep returning to that buffet for more food. My wife finds HGTV addictive (sorry, honey). Doritos, Twizzlers, and M&Ms all involve repetitive hand-to-mouth motion, they taste good, and they release endorphins in our brains that make us feel good. How is that not addictive?
The point is that “It’s wrong because it’s an addictive drug” is not a hard and fast rule. At best it is a sliding scale upon which many items and products fall. From this point you would have to argue that marijuana is “too addictive” and “too much of a drug.”
Even if this was a water tight objection, it only proves that the use of marijuana is immoral. How does it correlate that selling someone marijuana is somehow wrong? We need to dig deeper. This calls for argument #2…
Argument #2: A business is culpable for what customers do with its product.
Okay, so you are catching on. You want to argue that the person selling marijuana is responsible for what the product will do to the consumer. Basically, by selling marijuana, a person is enabling sin. When someone distributes marijuana, he is causing others to fall into disobedience to God’s Word. A business owner is morally responsible for how his product affects the consumer.
Hmm. What about Ronsinol? If a customer buys their lighter fluid and uses it to burn down a church, is the company responsible? What if I owned a Golden Corral? Would God hold me accountable for enabling gluttony? What if I worked for a pharmaceuticals company that manufactured medication that was often abused by minors? Would I be responsible?
I saw an article on Yahoo News today where the inventor of the AK-47 expressed deep remorse for all of the lives his gun has destroyed. Is this man guilty before God of all the blood his product has spilled? Is he personally responsible for what others have done with his product?
Again, where we once thought we had a solid black line, we now have a sort of grayish area. A business cannot foresee all of the uses and abuses of the products he sells. We cannot lay this kind of ethical burden upon every store owner, that he must feel responsible for every possible action a customer may commit while using his product.
So how responsible is the business owner? If you know that 5% of your customers will use your product to sin, are you responsible? What about 15%? If you knew 15% of your customers would use your product to feed sinful appetites, would you be guilty before God? What about 50%? What about 90%. What if you knew that 99% of those purchasing your product where using it to sin against your God? Would God hold you personally responsible for providing that product?
Argument #3: A customer cannot use your product properly without sinning.
Ah. You’ve done it. You’ve found the heart of the matter. You see, there is a difference between use and abuse. While a business owner cannot predict or be held responsible for every abuse of his product, he can and should be held accountable for the proper use. This is the reason that pharmacies must only issue drugs to those with a prescription. This is the reason that bartenders can be held criminally liable for serving alcohol to a publicly intoxicated individual. Prescription drugs can be properly used by those with a prescription. Alcohol can be responsibly consumed by a sober individual. However, an abuse of prescription meds and an abuse of alcohol can be sinful and addictive.
This is the sticking point on marijuana. The proper use of marijuana brings about a state of intoxication every time (according to this article, only 4 puffs are required for a chemical high). That is how it works by design. A business owner may not be responsible for abuses of his product, but a Christian cannot with a clear conscience sell a product whose proper use brings about sin every time.
A good analogy would be the porn industry. A porn distributor is morally responsible for his product because there is no sinless way to consume his products. The purchase and proper use of pornography leads to sin.
The marketplace is not merely an exchange of goods. Morality is involved at every street corner, and we as Christians have the personal responsibility to think through these difficult issues. Most of us are involved in the production or sales of goods and services, and we ought to consider the moral ramifications of the things we peddle in today’s economy. Wrestle, think, challenge yourself, and seek the glory of God.
Editorial Addition (4/20/15): This article is not meant to address the sales of medicinal marijuana. It is merely tackling the ethical nature of selling recreational pot.
4 thoughts on “Can a Christian Sell Weed?”
I’m sorry Chad! I meant to address the fact that coffee changes your state of mind. The reason people buy coffee is to use it in the morning as a stimulant to ensure that they’re not in their normal state of mind. Am I right? In the circumstance of selling coffee, the seller knows the buyer will be using it for this reason. So wouldn’t the selling and use of coffee be just the same?
I agree with the premise of your argument, but couldn’t you say the same about coffee? Coffee is very addictive and it is a stimulant. I know many Christians ( and non Christians) that are addicted to coffee and most people don’t consider this a sin. Curious on your comments?
Jared, thanks for reading! I actually agree that the argument “It’s wrong because it’s addictive” isn’t enough for just that reason. If you look at argument #1 in the article, I point out that Oreos, M&Ms, and HGTV would all be wrong according to that argument! So, you’re right.
I’m tied up on this issue as well. I think we have to look at the Spirit behind States legalizing marijuana (cannabis). I used to smoke a lot of marijuana because of surgery that was performed on my brain that left terrible migraines and pain in my leg. Surgery was result of a bad car accident and incidentally a benign brain tumor was found that was removed.
I think that there’s some good arguments in here but the basis of some of them need to be looked at more closely. Although I’m not a big fan of big pharmaceutical companies myself there is substantial time, research, and consideration given to the products they make. The intent is to treat some type of ailment or disorder. True, there are side effects and their offerings may be not the best treatment. The patient has to weigh those risks at the benefit of reducing or eliminating the complication(s) they’re treating. Marijuana is a plant and there may be medicinal applications for its use, however in what form, in what amount, in which way used? The FDA is a federal institution approving drugs (yes it’s corrupt) but under federal law marijuana is illegal. If stealing less than $50.00 was illegal under federal law, but a state you lived in said it’s legal (I know it sounds silly) does that mean you should do it? What about euthanasia? What if nationally it’s banned, but your state says euthanasia is legal as long as it’s warranted and the person it’s being done to approves? Abortion is perfectly legal under federal law but regulated at certain state levels. What if it were like cannabis and abortion (any type under any circumstance) was federally banned but some states allowed it? Does it make it ok? Oh, that’s different?
Let’s look at the addictive aspect. Marijuana isn’t so much physically addictive as it is psychologically addictive. Not everyone who goes to a buffet albeit Golden Corral etc. is a glutton. You have the choice to control yourself if you go there and you want to have the choice to eat almost anything without waiting for your food to be served. Someone with an eating disorder has to take self responsibility not the buffet owner. Unfortunately smoking marijuana doesn’t have a threshold at which you say that person is “stoned” or “high” unlike eating at a buffet when a person is satiated and then moves beyond that point eating like a glutton. I think you could also say the gun store owner isn’t responsible for the shooter killing someone. Yes, but the gun could be used for defending a person’s loved one in the event of a break in to that person’s house. In states where marijuana has been decriminalized it’s saying that it’s ok for recreational use. Unless you have a high resistance or you have a high tolerance recreational use of marijuana isn’t just to taste and enjoy marijuana. It’s different than having a glass of wine, beer, or mixed drink.
If someone is suffering or has a terminal ailment I see nothing anti-biblical about consuming marijuana to ease suffering and grief for that individual. The issue is state laws enacted that seem disproportionate to the amount of possible candidates for legitimate medical uses for marijuana as a legitimate treatment for specific conditions. No one should have to be forced for the big pharmaceutical option that has a terminal illness or is suffering. Medical use of cannabis at a national level with specific patient and healthcare provider guidelines I do endorse. Incarceration and harsh punishment for marijuana sellers and users should be more lenient and a national guideline on laws that states should adopt would help.
Not everyone drinks given that alcohol is legal for consumption at state levels and not everyone is going to smoke marijuana given its legality at certain state levels. I do believe that anyone who’s going to want to smoke marijuana is going to find a way legal or not. It was that way before states started legalizing it and it would be the same if we went back 30 years on marijuana prohibition.
I hope that with the legalization of marijuana and through trial and error better state laws will be enacted to target treatment for people that actually can benefit from legal use of marijuana medicinally. Unfortunately this is a murky area for a Christian that would want to buy/sell/trade marijuana because in states like Colorado and Washington they are decriminalizing its use and allowing for it be available recreationally. If you were a Christian that was playing by the rules verifying that the customers you were serving had conditions/ailments that are treatable through the use of cannabis, then I don’t see the harm. Unfortunately that’s not a reality for someone engaged in that type of business in CO or WA.
For some reason Christians today that want to be in Christ and still have some parts of the world in their life bend biblical references to certain topics to fit their personal lifestyle choices. I’ve seen it a thousand times. I’m guilty of it too and have been way worse on my stances in life vs. biblical living. Another thing I see is that if it doesn’t apply let it fly attitude of it’s not mentioned in the bible so God must have not thought it was important. No there isn’t a direct reference to marijuana. Christians have to use discernment and know that their intent and their hearts seeking the Lord please God, not your performance.
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