Marijuana use is a sin despite legalization, Canada’s bishops say

Marijuana use is a sin, Canada’s soon bishops warn those who are practicing despite the imminent legalization of recreational cannabis on Oct. 17.  

Recreational use of marijuana is a sin, which violates the virtue of temperance, however, not medical cannabis, Msgr. Frank Leo, General Secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said, Catholic Register reported.

“The virtue of temperance, as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine’,” said Leo.

“In a particular way, the Catechism underscores that the use of any drug, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is also a ‘grave offence’ — for the use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life.”

As of 2011, 38.7% of Canadians – 12.81 million were baptized as Catholics.

Meanwhile, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast,  whose cathedral opens onto a view of Parliament Hill, is not pro-legalization.

“Recreational use of substances—whether marijuana, other drugs and opioids—is part of a continuum of consumption of substances that allow people to escape what they regard as the burdens and challenges of life,” said Prendergast.

While the CCCB issued a statement in 2017 on the opioid crisis, it also described legalizing marijuana as “unwise” and “potentially dangerous.”

Many see medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids.

“Bishops, priests, catechists, youth and pastoral care workers will need to give a teaching on temperance and how it comes into play in the decisions we take,” he said. “Guidelines for confessors should help them assist penitents with wise guidance in this matter,”comparing it to “addressing other contemporary problems such as the plague of pornography.”

The archbishop urged parents to be a good role model for their children.

“Parents try and discourage their teens from smoking and underage drinking, so how is marijuana use different? They also counsel young adults about overindulging in alcohol, drinking to get drunk or binge drinking.

“Our bodies are ours to use but we have to account one day to the Lord as to how we took care of them and what we did with them,” he said.

“Is it a good idea to knowingly use a substance that produces harmful effects? Is this wise stewardship?”

Marijuana and the Bible

On Wednesday, Oklahoma became the 30th US state to legalize medical marijuana. Some of the proponents used biblical texts to bolster their stance.

A day before the historic vote, US Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma City Republican and former Baptist preacher, who is against the legalization of medical marijuana, said he received a mail, accusing him of theological hypocrisy and claims the Bible supports marijuana use.

The message, quoting from Genesis, 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.”

Lankford described the mailer as “bizarre.”  He said attempts to justify marijuana use with biblical quotes are “the ultimate irony” and an effort by marijuana proponents to “twist reality” to win the vote.

The nuns (Image via Agence A.D.R.)
The nuns (Image via Agence A.D.R.)

Nuns grow marijuana

While the former preacher might be against medical marijuana, there is the Sisters of the Valley, a group of nuns who run their own a marijuana farm in Merced, California. The nuns produce cannabis products for medicinal purposes.

As the legalization trend continues, there will be more discussion on how to decipher and formulate a religious stand on marijuana consumption – medical or recreational.