The debate and division over the use of the cannabis or marihuana plant continues to grow in the USA. The areas of differences include legal, medical, economic and spiritual.
Legal: At the Federal level cannabis is still illegal, but many states have legalized it for medical purposes and a few for recreational purposes. In those jurisdictions where it is illegal, some police, prosecutors and courts rarely enforce existing law, while some regularly hand out jail and prison terms for possession and sales. In Michigan, MCL 333.7405 and MCL 333.7406 provide a penalty of imprisonment for up to 2 years and a fine of up to $25,000, not for selling or using, but for simply knowingly allowing one’s property to be “frequented by persons using controlled substances [like marihuana]...for the purpose of using controlled substances”. Huron County, Michigan, currently prosecutes people under these statutes.
Medical: Marihuana has long been considered the main gateway drug to most harder, addictive drugs. It has been shown to alter the brains of long-term users. In contributes to auto and work accidents, though the severity is greatly disputed. It is certainly not as dangerous as alcohol. On the plus side, cannabis has been shown to be effective in treating pain, numerous diseases and mental illness—without most of the serious side effects caused by manufactured drugs. Unfortunately, most cannabis has been bred to produce large amounts of THC, the euphoria-inducing chemical, and most users smoke it rather than eat it, as smoking produces a greater feeling. Only a tiny fraction of cannabis is cultivated to produce high levels of CBD and other medically beneficial properties.
Economic: To obtain Food and Drug Administration approval, drugs must pass three phase clinical trials—which can cost into the billion dollar range. These manufactured drugs are patented, which gives their developers exclusive rights to profit from them. A single patient may be charged thousands of dollars per month for their prescription. On the other hand, plants cannot be patented, and people can grow them at home for a few dollars per month. Therefore, the effective medical use of plants threatens the profitability of drug manufacturers. Indeed, many well-educated people behind the cannabis legalization movement conclude that big drug companies are the major force in keeping cannabis illegal.
Spiritual: Cannabis is a plant which God created, and pronounced “good” (Genesis 1:11-12). While the Bible may not address cannabis specifically, the principles of using mind-altering substances are found there: “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty, And remember his misery no more” (Proverbs 31:6-7). “Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise” (Proverbs 20;1).These powerful substances are primarily for those whose abilities are failing, or to deal with difficulties short-term. They are not for young people who who do not yet have life goals! Indeed, long-term use of cannabis has been shown to put holes in the brain and cause general lethargy—users lose other life interests and become primarily interested in keeping up their supply of cannabis. This is the great moral issue that we do not adequately face: we make substance abuse for young people illegal, rather than facing the issue of why so many young people simply want to drop out of our often corrupt, immoral society.
PABC Will Not Solve this Debate
Port Austin Bible Campus is here to show the love of God to others and care for their physical needs during a time of homelessness. While we might have opinions about the good and bad uses of cannabis, it is not our mission to solve the legal, medical and economic debates about it. People desiring to do so need medical, legal or other qualifications—and much time to pursue it. It is a worthy goal to bring man’s laws and medical practices into harmony with the Scriptures. However, it is not a stated goal of PABC, it is not why PABC's sponsors give offerings and risking prosecution for a controlled substance crimes is foolish. Anyone who feels like it is their personal mission to help people find medical uses for cannabis should find a place where those ideas are welcome—even if that means starting a new institution.
Our governments have passed many laws that differ from the laws of God. Even so, there are very few laws of man that actually require us to disobey God. We can live godly lives without any use of the cannabis plant. Indeed, a large number of Christians through the ages lived out their entire lives without knowing it existed. When medical options were not available, divine healing was!
As it is, people sometimes put forth worst-case scenarios such as: “What would PABC do if it knew that a Guest could live a normal life by using cannabis, but would probably die if they went untreated or received traditional pharmaceuticals? Suppose the Guest were unable to obtain a Michigan medical marihuana card. Would not it be PABC's responsibility to save a life? Yes, we should save a life if we could. If we were thoroughly convinced of this situation, we would be able to persuade a few of our friends to provide the funds to send the person to Colorado or some other state where they would be able to legally treat themselves.
We might also ask, how do people who do not have medical marihuana cards come to believe that cannabis is the answer to some of their health problems? Obviously, by illegal use of it. But this is the very kind of action that many PABC Guests need to learn to avoid. Some PABC Guests became homeless because they at first thought they did not have money to register or insure their cars, but were caught and ended up having to pay big fines as well as registration and insurance. Is it good that such high costs are required of economically struggling people? No. But people must learn to deal with these laws as they presently exist—even if that means sharing a car with a friend rather than owning one's own vehicle. There are hundreds of other examples where people need to learn to conform to existing laws and sensible practices, rather than defying them and becoming homeless as a result.
PABC Policy on Using Cannabis (Marihuana)
PABC does not permit the use of cannabis by Staff or Guests unless they have a currently valid Michigan medical marihuana registry identification card. Also, PABC seeks to help Guests recover from past illegal activities and harmful recreational drug use. We do not want to tempt them or make them feel like “others are doing it, so why can’t they?” Furthermore, Michigan law does not permit medical marihuana to be consumed in a “public place”. This means that card holders certainly cannot park their vehicles in a road or parking lot. Some lawyers recommend it should not be used anywhere the public can see into or smell the smoke.
Guests with valid cards must conform to applicable Michigan law and:
Provide to PABC their Michigan medical marihuana registry identification card so a copy may be kept on file.
If at all possible, consume cannabis by edible methods, topically or with a marihuana vaporizer. Many articles explain varying benefits of these methods and they do not produce the smoke that is undesirable for buildings inhabited by others.
Medical marihuana users who determine that they must smoke it, must use the room PABC designated for such use. Each user will be issued a key and a storage locker when they produce their card to be copied. Anyone who does not have a card or refuses to show .
The medical smoking room shall be kept locked while in use and may not be used by more than one person at a time. Medical Marihuana must be treated like a powerful medicine that it is—not a subject for socialization. If someone needs to contact a user in the room in an emergency, the user should extinguish his marihuana before opening the door. This sill prevent even the appearance of illegal sharing.
The medical smoking room shall not be used for any other purpose. Staff and Guests without medical marihuana cards shall not enter that room at all, unless the PABC director specifically assigns them a building maintenance task there.
PABC Staff and Guests without a valid Michigan medical marihuana registry identification card must not use any form of cannabis either on or off campus. The off campus prohibition must be included because it is impossible to determine from testing exactly how many hours ago a substance was used, and PABC must have a means of preventing its facilities from being used illegally. Specifically, all PABC staff and Guests must:
List their previous two months of marihuana and other illegal drug use upon entering PABC. In some cases, PABC may decide to test them right away to determine which items show up in the test. With this base line established, any additional marihuana or drug use will be easy to detect.
Agree to be tested for Marihuana and other drugs at any time. Any efforts to falsify a test will be grounds for immediate dismissal.
Accept that PABC wants to help them overcome addictions and difficulties. If PABC staff are suspicious that people on campus are using illegal drugs, the staff will first ask if, when, where and what they are using. If there is an honest admission that they are using, the PABC staff will attempt to work out a plan to prevent further use, which may involve Narcotics Anonymous attendance, counseling, ongoing testing, etc. When people say they are not using, they will be drug tested.
Anyone who refuses a drug test or attempts to foil a test will be required to leave PABC as soon as other housing can be arranged—often 1 to 3 days. Those who claimed not to be using, but tests positive, may be given the opportunity to be professionally tested. However, if the professional test is also positive, they will also be required to leave as soon as other housing can be arranged.
Today, it is unfortunate that using a gram of cannabis in one jurisdiction could legally help a person with a medical condition, in another jurisdiction legally get him high for no useful purpose and in a third jurisdiction send him to jail. Similarly, owners of property where cannabis is used also face prosecution in some jurisdictions and not in others. These things will not be solved by ignoring the laws, but by legislation.
While this state of confusion exists, PABC intends to fully follow Michigan law and insist on its staff and Guests doing the same.