Clergy Condemn Cannabis Criminalization


Somehow I missed this last week [and also missed Brian Doherty's post about it on Friday], but the Drug War Chronicle notes that the campaign for Question 7, Nevada's marijuana legalization initiative, has managed to enlist the public support of 33 local religious leaders. A press conference featuring several of them attracted substantial news media attention. In addition to the predictable (Unitarian Universalist ministers, Reform rabbis), the list includes several harder targets (such as Methodists, Lutherans, and a Southern Baptist) who were initially skeptical but ultimately persuaded that if people are going to smoke pot, it's better that they buy it in a legal market.

"Make no mistake," said the Rev. William C. Webb, senior pastor of Reno's Second Baptist Church. "I don't think using marijuana is a wise choice for anyone. Drugs ruin enough lives. But we don't need our laws ruining more lives. If there has to be a market in marijuana, I'd rather it be regulated with sensible safeguards than run by violent gangs and dangerous drug dealers."

Troy Dayton of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, who was largely responsible for bringing Webb and the other religious leaders on board, explains the political significance of their support:

This became a big story because most people think that the religious community is the last place on earth to find support for ending marijuana prohibition. It is making such a difference because by its very nature it reframes the debate. This marijuana issue is up against a lot of cultural baggage, decades of a government misinformation campaign, and a strong puritan ethic which embraces a spirit of punishment. In addition, many voters think they are voting on whether or not they think marijuana is good or not; not what the best policy regarding marijuana best serves the community.

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  1. During lunch, I was clicking on StumbleUpon and ran across a rather unusual cartoon (yes, this is on topic, because it features Jesus and Mohammad).

  2. Pro Libertate,

    Amazing Cartoon. LOL.

    Jesus and Mo

    Should be a series. I think Religion gets off scotts free too often in debates. It’s good to remind people that Atheists are as a percentage of their population, the group with the lowest crime rate.

  3. Bazil,

    I’ve been reading through them. Some are pretty funny. Wonder if the author has earned a fatwa yet?

  4. Mao, Uncle Joe, Pol?

    Just askin’…

  5. Just askin’…

    Scroll down to “Now for the facts”.

    Please help me understand; I’m here to learn.

  6. Alcohol Prohibition radically raised violence in the US but did nothing to end alcohol use and indeed seems to have increased its abuse as hard liquor was easier to get than beer or wine.

    When Prohibition ended, so did the associated violence. We could radically lower the violence in our cities with the stroke of a pen ending drug prohibition. We would also eventually likely see a reduction in the “harder” drugs over time, much the sam eway there was a gradual decline in hard alcohol over time.

    Pot use would likely go up, but pot doesn’t kill. Has anyone ever died from a marijuana overdose?

  7. Yes but it is immoral. I can’t see the religions supporting this, it is wrong to use it, that is why they support the laws. If Jesus were alive today he would support the WOD.

  8. Yes but it is immoral. I can’t see the religions supporting this, it is wrong to use it, that is why they support the laws. If Jesus were alive today he would support the WOD.

  9. “If Jesus were alive today he would support the WOD.”

    Any evidence of this?

  10. Jane,
    Jesus, the man who sponsored alcohol fueled revelry at Cana? I doubt it. Besides, his daddy had sumthin’ to say about that.

    Genesis 1:29
    29: Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

  11. The Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative has gotten many religious denominations (Methodists, Baptists, etc.) to go along with large pieces of drug policy reform (mandatory minimums, med mj, etc) at the national level Their work really is the missing piece of the puzzle in ending the drug.

    I’m an atheist and everything but if 50%+ of people are gonna go to church every week and worship some dude, you got to reach out to them. Just as long as I’m not the one doing it.

  12. IMO the best argument against the WoD is “It’s true drugs are bad, but the cure is worse than the disease.”

    Yes but it is immoral. I can’t see the religions supporting this, it is wrong to use it, that is why they support the laws. If Jesus were alive today he would support the WOD.

    Please point to any instance in the Bible where Jesus called on the government to pass a law enforcing morality. (Or to do anything else.)

    Meanwhile, remember the parable about the woman caught in adultry. Let you who are without sin cast the first stone.

  13. “If Jesus were alive today he would support the WOD.”

    “Any evidence of this?”

    Christians believe what they believe based on their faith, not evidence. If Christians believe Jesus would support the War On Drugs, so will they. Jane is right that many religious people see drug use as a moral issue. Jusus turned water into wine (what a guy), but some Christians see alcohol use as immoral.”If Jesus were alive today _________________”, fill in the blank, anything goes and no evidence is necessary.

  14. If Jesus were alive today, he’d be saying stuff like “love your brother” and “let him without sin cast the first stone”. And he might say something about worrying about your own big problems instead of obsessing about the minor ones of your neighbor. Or about turning the other cheek to let your enemy slap it, too. Tough fellow, but not one who would support a “war” on drugs or on much anything else, I deem.

    Christ, if what we know about him is at all true, I like. Christians are another thing altogether. Many try to live a good life and follow in their own way what Christianity is supposed to be about. But too many are hypocrites and aren’t even nice to their blood relatives, let alone giving a crap about strangers. If Christians cared as much as they are supposed to, the world would be a much better place. I was lucky to have grandparents who really bought into the good side of Christianity and were genuinely good people. I’m not saying that they had to be Christian to be good, but they got a lot of value out of it. Without talking about Jesus coming to kill drug users, either.

  15. Preachers of ANY stripe making political commentary of ANY sort makes me shiver.

    While I’m glad these churchmen have come out against the WoD, I would prefer they just shut up.

    Just as the state should stay out of religion, religion should stay out of the state.

  16. If Jesus were alive today, he’d be saying, “Wow, that rising from the dead thing really WORKED??!!”

  17. There is no prohibition in the bible for using any psychoactive plant, be it cannabis or poppy. The opium poppy was well known to the ancient Hebrews.

    A primary reason for a christian to oppose the government’s war on drugs is the command to avoid “hypocrisy”. Alcohol is legal so locking up people for simply using an intoxicant other than alcohol is hypocrisy.

    In fact, if you study the prohibitionist literature from the 1920s they demonized liquor more than narcotics.

  18. If Jesus were alive today, he’d be celebrating Simchas Torah.

  19. I’ve known some devout Xtians who were libertarians. Heck, I was convinced of the value of minarchism before I ever changed my mind on the god/no god question. For a Christian Libertarian, doing good because you are living in imitation of Jesus is the whole point of the exercise. Doing good because, if you don’t, either the state, the Cosmic Muffin or both will punish you doesn’t have real moral value.

    Just because Xtianity suffered through centuries of Caeseropapism and related theocratic forms doesn’t mean that it has to.


  20. Here’s another Xian exploring libertarianism for just that reason. As kevrob nicely put it, selfless action is possible only to the extent that one has a private self and can control it. The dual meaning of controlling one’s self, viz. being uncoerced from both external and internal tyrannies, is what prompts me to eschew (for example) both hating and hate-crime legislation; both to avoid inebriation and question prohibition.

    Thanks for the “minarchism” term, which I will now track down. Freely, passionately, compulsively.

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