Should we decriminalize marijuana? Recently federal legislation has passed in the United States House of Representatives, in which 222 votes for and 158 votes against making marijuana possession legal. This vote was mostly along party lines, with only 5 Republicans voting for support of the law. It now goes onto the Senate for consideration.
Increasingly in the United States, marijuana possession and usage is gaining acceptance. According to the Map of Marijuana Legality, as of the 2020 Election, 16 states in the United States have fully legalized the use of marijuana. 33 states allow for the medical use of marijuana. 26 states have decriminalized marijuana at some level.
On today’s podcast, I sit down with my friend, “St. Theosaurus Rex” to discuss our differing political views on whether or not marijuana should be made legal. While we both agree from a theological perspective that the use of marijuana, while not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, would be unethical to use for recreational purposes. The question is then one of criminality. As Christians, should we support legislation that legalizes marijuana?
Talking Points From Today’s Discussion
- St Thesaurus Rex is coming from a “communitarian liberal” perspective, whereas I am coming from a libertarian leaning philosophy of government.
- Historically prohibition proved to be a disastrous policy when it came to alcohol. It created more problems than it solved. Prohibition was the only amendment in the history of the United States to be both added and removed from the US Constitution. Why should we believe a prohibition on marijuana is a positive path we should continue to pursue.
- Marijuana use and possession is still considered to be illegal at the federal level. Possession could get you in trouble with the federal government even if the states allow it. Per legal website: Possession is considered a felony. First time offense is 1 year in federal prison minimum. Max of 3. Growing pot in any amount can warrant a 5 year felony. These punishments are harsh and excessive. The punishment is not proportional to the crime.
- Why should marijuana be criminalized? Whose rights are being infringed on? Don’t natural rights state that you and I should be able to engage in self determination? Should you and I not be able to own and possess anything we wish so long as we don’t violate the rights of someone else?
- Why should the government be able to use the coercive power of the state to deprive me of my right to own whatever I wish, including marijuana? And why should I be subject to steep fines and become a convicted felon just for owning marijuana?
- Do we really want to deprive people of the freedom to live their life and make a living and to do hard jail time as a felon simply for smoking some pot? That seems unjust. The punishment doesn’t match the crime.
- Maybe instead of criminalizing marijuana usage, we could simply punish folks for doing things like driving while under the influence, like we do with alcohol?
- Instead of criminalizing it, we should focus on treating people who show signs of chronic problems who are in need of rehabilitation, and therapy. Drug use is a mental health issue, not a criminal issue.
- In recent years, countries like Portugal ended the war on drugs, decriminalizing all drugs, and choosing instead to focus on therapy. They’ve seen rampant drug usage drastically decline.
About Today’s Guest: The Theosaurus Rex
The following guest on today’s podcast goes by a pseudonym in order to remain anonymous online. I know his real name and where he lives. But in order to protect his identity and wish to remain anonymous, I will simply use his online moniker and stage name: The Theosaurus Rex.
St. Theosaurus Rex is a “millennial dinosaur” who has a Bachelor degree in International Studies: Political Science and politically identifies as a Communitarian Liberal (socially conservative and fiscally constitutional). He also has his Master of Divinity in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and identifies as a charismatic Bapticostal. Currently St. Theosaurus Rex is a pastor in a small southern church setting.
Eventually, he’d love to get a PhD in philosophy with something to do with Christianity in literature or cinematography. An interesting hybrid of his hippie father and scientist mother he’s been taught to always question authorities, come up with his own philosophies, and objectively look at all sides. His biggest theological influences are the works of CS Lewis, Rob Bell, and J.R.R. Tolkien.