What If?

A Baptist pastor in California is upset and concerned that city leaders and planners have been studying and discussing issues regarding cannabis and the effect it would have on the community to grant cultivation permits for medical marijuana.

He says he was asked to share his opinion on the matter, which he did in a long article, and which I have read so you don’t have to. What follows is a series of questions I have based on what the pastor wrote in the article. The things he was saying about marijuana should be quite apparent.

What if just because something is legal or popular doesn’t make it right, healthy, or wise?

What if Leo Tolstoy said that “wrong does not cease to be wrong because of the majority share in it”?

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What if history can point us to plenty of majority-held positions, which have led to great harm and destruction?

What if marijuana is a gateway drug?

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What if someone began using medical marijuana and became deeply addicted and relationally incapacitated toward his family?

What if marijuana is highly addictive?

What if marijuana grown in the United States is becoming increasingly addictive?

What if the cannabis cultivated here is generally developed to increase its levels of THC?

What if a large percentage of the adult population of California has tried marijuana on occasion?

What if the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has resulted in increased crime, heightened drugged driving incidents and fatal crashes, greater homelessness, and detrimental side effects?

What if a coalition of sheriffs from Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas are suing the state of Colorado for problems related to the increased cost of enforcement of Colorado’s law?

What if across Colorado, homelessness increased by 17–20 percent since the legalization of marijuana?

What if Denver authorities are saying they are facing a significant influx of homeless adults and juveniles who are coming to Denver specifically because of the availability of marijuana?

What if the Bible references the use of drugs in Revelation 9:21 as it speaks of people involved in “sorceries”?

What if countries like the Netherlands that have taken a relaxed approach to drugs have suffered for it?

What if Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most violent cities?

What if the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has expressed concern about drug and alcohol use among young people and the social consequences, which range from poor school performance and truancy to serious impairment, including brain damage?

What if people who take recreational drugs are opening their minds to wickedness and the occult?

What if there is limited research available on medical marijuana?

What if most of the research on medical marijuana is antidotal rather than academic?

What if there is plenteous evidence on marijuana’s addictive nature?

What if allowing licensing for medical marijuana facilities will develop into licensing for recreational marijuana facilities?

What if the legalization of marijuana is different from occasional use?

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What if medical marijuana wrappings have been found in middle schools?

What if legalization recommends not a sneak smoke in the back yard a few times, but using marijuana continually?

What if several studies have linked heavy marijuana use to lower income, greater welfare dependence, unemployment, criminal behavior, and lower life satisfaction?

What if marijuana use has a detrimental effect on workplace safety?

What if adolescent user addiction rates are high?

What if the damaging effects of marijuana are not theoretical only, but are life altering to the young people who become addicted?

What if medical marijuana is still not approved by the FDA?

What if there may be a legitimate medical use of marijuana?

What if there is no assurance that there is a safe and proven process for legal distribution of marijuana to and through legitimate medical outlets at this time?

What if the revenue brought in through licensing fees cannot cover the direct costs that will surely result from making marijuana more accessible?

What if the promise by the proponents of the gambling industry that legalized gambling in California would cure fiscal needs for the state’s educational system was just a ruse?

What if taxing unhealthy, addictive habits has not proved to be a helpful solution to government finances?

What if poor people will become poorer by using marijuana?

What if households in America who make less than $20,000 per year account for 29 percent of all marijuana use?

What if fewer heavy users of marijuana completed college than a control group?

What if most heavy users of marijuana have annual incomes of less than $30,000?

What if heavy users of marijuana reported that marijuana had affected their cognitive abilities and career achievements?

What if employees who tested positive for marijuana on a pre-employment urine drug test had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries, and 75 percent greater absenteeism compared with those who tested negative for marijuana use?

What if the risk of psychotic episodes is 40 percent greater for marijuana users than for nonuser?

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What if adolescents who used marijuana regularly were significantly less likely than their non-using peers to finish high school or obtain a degree?

What if adolescents who used marijuana regularly had a much higher chance of later developing dependence, using other drugs, and attempting suicide?

What if prohibiting marijuana cultivation facilities within one thousand feet of schools will not alone keep marijuana out of the hands of minors?

What if licensing cultivation will make marijuana more accessible to young people?

What if the cost of incarcerating and rehabilitating people who are making wrong decisions while impaired will outweigh the income the city would bring in through taxing marijuana cultivation facilities?

This concludes my questions.

What if all of these things are true? What if that is not a highly dubious proposition? What if there are not other statistics that contradict the pastor’s statistics? What if there are not other studies that contradict the pastor’s studies?

It doesn’t matter: marijuana cultivation and sale should not require a license and the medical and recreational use of marijuana should be perfectly legal.

This would still be true even if marijuana were the most addictive, most potent, most dangerous, most unhealthy, most destructive, and most deadly drug known to man.

In the end, there are really only two questions that need to be asked:

  1. Who should decide what substances a legal adult puts into his mouth, nose, lungs, or veins? The California pastor, like many other conservative Christians, thinks that government should. But as Ludwig von Mises said many years ago: “Opium and morphine are certainly dangerous habit-forming drugs. But once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, no serious objections can be advanced against further encroachments.”
  1. Whose job is it to keep kids from using marijuana? The California pastor, like many other conservative Christians, thinks that government should. Like Hillary Clinton, he defends the heavy hand of government in name of protecting “the children.” But if the government should keep kids safe from the evils of marijuana, then why shouldn’t the government likewise keep kids safe from alcohol, violent video games, Internet porn, high fructose corn syrup, risqué movies, filthy rap music, trans fat, raunchy novels, subversive literature, and tobacco? Or perhaps keeping kids safe from these things is the job of parents—in conjunction with churches, friends, family, pastors, counselors, physicians, and support groups.

True freedom includes the freedom to engage in wrong, immoral, sinful, unhealthy, dangerous, destructive, or stupid behavior; use medical marijuana; or get stoned out of your mind—as long as you don’t violate the personal or property rights of others and assume responsibility for the consequences of your actions.