I am sure that most of us know there will be a proposition on the ballot in November asking voters to approve the legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use in Ohio. At its September meeting, the church council of Thompson United Methodist Church approved a motion to take a stand against this proposal and to ask our members and friends to prayerfully consider voting against the measure.
There is no doubt that we need to change the way we deal with people who are caught breaking laws against the sale and possession of illegal drugs—for many people this is the gateway not only to more serious drug abuse but also a life-long relationship with the criminal justice community. I personally support the use of medical marijuana. I have seen it alleviate the effects of cancer treatment, for example. However, I believe that the rush to legalize marijuana for recreational use is premature and misguided. Very recently the medical and scientific communities have expressed concerns about the long-lasting effects of marijuana use, especially on young people. Controlling access to minors will be a problem. And, as with state-sponsored gambling, many people who never would have considered using marijuana might feel the freedom to experiment once it is legal. In addition, I understand that some people have concerns that this proposal creates a kind of monopoly in the marijuana industry in Ohio.
Like any church, our congregation represents a wide range of opinions. A stand against the legalization of marijuana for recreational use is consistent with our historical concern about the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Since only the General Conference can speak for the church, I will include part of a statement found on the website www.umc.org:
“ Like alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is frequently a precursor to the use of other drugs. The active ingredient is THC, which affects the user by temporarily producing feelings of euphoria or relaxation. An altered sense of body image and bouts of exaggerated laughter are commonly reported. However, studies reveal that marijuana impairs short-term memory, altering sense of time and reducing the ability to perform tasks requiring concentration, swift reactions, and coordination…We urge all persons to abstain from all use of marijuana, unless it has been legally prescribed in a form appropriate for treating a particular medical condition.”
Your Servant for Christ’s Sake,