Sean Hannity on Marijuana vs. Alcohol

Sometimes on the drive back from school I like to listen to Sean Hannity on the radio. It usually makes me angry and I drive faster, arriving home much sooner than I otherwise would. Today, there was talk about the Supreme Court decision to have Federal anti-marijuana laws overrule State pro-medical-marijuana laws. Everyone who called up and who said that they smoked pot with any regularity was chastised as a drug addict by Hannity. No word on how often Mr. Hannity consumes a beverage with caffeine. Of course, that’s different, because caffeine doesn’t alter your mood. Oh wait, yes it does!

Anyway, someone invariably brought up the alcohol vs. marijuana angle. I leaned forward in glee, awaiting to see just how the Baby Jesus was going to get out of this one. After all, marijuana is non-toxic, alcohol is toxic. Not a single soul has ever died of marijuana overdose, but thousands die yearly from alcohol poisoning. How was Sean going to respond?

Hannity, incredibly, responded by arguing that alcohol was different than marijuana because while you can drink alcohol without getting drunk, with marijuana you get “instantly high.” Where the hell does Hannity get his information on marijuana? Reefer Madness, the 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film? I’ve never seen anyone get “instantly high” on marijuana. The effects of marijuana are, like with alcohol, dependent on how much you intake and are observed gradually, over time. If you’re taking 30 bong hits, yeah, you’re going to feel pretty mellow. But the same thing happens after 5 beers.

It was just really funny to me, because it couldn’t be any more obvious that Hannity hasn’t tried marijuana, and knows absolutely nothing about it. Sadly, for those who might be excited by Hannity’s promise of an “instant high,” marijuana delivers no such rush.

Next, Hannity tried to push the asinine “using marijuana will lead to hard drugs” argument. Not only does the argument imply that marijuana is a “soft” drug (wait, but it still makes you crazy and gives you an “instant high!”), the logic is faulty. Yes, if you do a survey of hard drug users, most of them tried marijuana before having used hard drugs. Of course, they also tried nicotine and caffeine and doughnuts before using hard drugs. More than 1/3 of all living Americans have tried marijuana. Working backwards by looking at hard drug users and saying that X percentage of hard drug users first tried marijuana is meaningless. You have not demonstrated cause and effect. Likewise, we don’t consider all Muslims in grave danger of becoming terrorists even though the majority of terrorists are Muslim. The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists and the vast majority of people who try marijuana are not going to become addicted to hard drugs.

The calls by marijuana users continued, but it didn’t get much better than Hannity claiming that marijuana gives you an “instant high.” Also, no word on how many of those callers only started using marijuana so that they would be able to stand listening to Hannity’s holier-than-thou preaching.

Comments

  1. michael jaquith says

    mark, I lost this huge post because the site rejected my email address and them I lost the post.now the short version.
    Marijuana (THC) is essentially different from alcohol in several ways. It is essentially an antisocial drug. It leads to introspection (usually of the navel-examining variety) and a sense of profundity in the face of inanity. Just watch a Cheech and Chong movie to get the sense . I have seen many associates in my youth destroy their academic careers by getting siedtracked on marijuana. I have seen many people go from this entry-level drug experience to go on to LSD and other hallucinogens with scary and disastrous results. Marijuana doesn’t carry much of a social stigma in common college circles . The kick from this drug does tempt many people to experiment with other drugs that are frankly adictive and very harmful. You may put this in hte post hoc ergo propter hoc logical fallacy, but I haven’t known anyone who took hallucinogenic drugs who didn’t start out with marijuana.
    The libertarian will say he doesn’t care what his neighbor does as long as it isn’t imposed on him. My libertarianism has shrunk as I have become a father and a grandfather. I do not want my children to have to live next door to someone who is smoking dope. It is not a good role model for them. It (THC) saps productivity. It is essentially a hedonistic drug. IT is impossible to be in a responsible position while using this drug. It impairs judgment severely.
    I also do not want to share the road with someone who is stoned and thinks that he is going 70 when he is going 40. A priest in Sarasota was convicted of vehicular manslaughter when a stoned couple pulled in front of him from a side street. He was just over the legal limit with alcohol(.08 in FL). He had no chance to avoid the collision. There is major motor and perceptive impairment with THC. IT is also relatively hard to judge dosage. Alcohol is predictable in its dose-resonse curve. THC is not.
    Sorry for this rambling. The first post was better.
    Last point. In college I had abandoned my catholic faith. I rediscovered it when I married my wife. I believe the teaching that there is a collective effect on humanity due to the actions of individuals. We are helped and saved by the many prayers of people that we do not know. We are equally effectively hurt and diminished in grace by the negative actions of others. That is where libertarianism falls short for me. I should help my neighbor to be better rather than to not care how he lives his life. My concern should not be restricted by the walls of my house and the concerns that I have for my children.

  2. says

    It is essentially an antisocial drug. It leads to introspection (usually of the navel-examining variety) and a sense of profundity in the face of inanity.

    I don’t dispute this, but alcohol can have the same effects. And navel-gazing never hurt anyone. If your point is that marijuana makes people just sit around and do nothing and that there are better things they could be doing, I agree, but think that the type of people who live 3 hours out of every day at a bar are similarly pathetic.

    The kick from this drug does tempt many people to experiment with other drugs that are frankly addictive and very harmful.

    You could say the same about alcohol. How many people do you know who tried hard drugs without first trying alcohol? I hate to keep playing devil’s advocate here and pretending to side with alcohol prohibitionists, but it’s something you have to ask yourself if you think marijuana should be illegal. In terms of ruining lives, killing people, contributing to addiction, causing violence, causing irresponsible sexual behavior, causing irresponsible behavior of all types… alcohol beats marijuana every time. Any violence related to marijuana is directly because of its illegality and the black market that illegality created.

    The libertarian will say he doesn’t care what his neighbor does as long as it isn’t imposed on him. My libertarianism has shrunk as I have become a father and a grandfather. I do not want my children to have to live next door to someone who is smoking dope. It is not a good role model for them. It (THC) saps productivity. It is essentially a hedonistic drug. IT is impossible to be in a responsible position while using this drug. It impairs judgment severely.

    Would you want your children living next door to an alcoholic? What about living next to someone who is lazy and lives on Welfare? What about someone who has a different person over for sex every night? Every one of these neighbors is a bad role model for children. Bad role models happen… the world is full of them. I’d argue that without bad role models, we have nothing with which to compare good role models. You can tell your kids that drugs are bad all you want, but imagine how effective it would to tell them “don’t do drugs, or you’ll end up like Mr. Jones across the street.” Many people made the point when Ozzy Osbourne was given a television show that it was the best anti-drug ad yet. His brain is fried from all the crazy drugs he’s done.

    I think that you should be honest with children. Vilifying marijuana or alcohol beyond the truth is a bad approach. Why can’t you just tell kids not to use marijuana because it will make them lazy and fat when they should be exercising their bodies and minds to prepare for their future? That’s the truth. If you vilify marijuana or alcohol unnecessarily, they’ll find out truth on their own or from their peers and then you just look like a liar who doesn’t want them to have fun.

    I also do not want to share the road with someone who is stoned and thinks that he is going 70 when he is going 40.

    No one does. You can test for THC via a blood test. Many places already have defined procedures for this and established legal limits for THC. And about the dose-response curve, the same could be said about any number of factors causing impairment, including ones that can’t be measured at all, such as rage or sleep deprivation. If you’re driving irresponsibly, you can get pulled over and ticketed, regardless of the cause. The THC level would just land you with the DUI.

    I believe the teaching that there is a collective effect on humanity due to the actions of individuals.

    [...]

    That is where libertarianism falls short for me. I should help my neighbor to be better rather than to not care how he lives his life

    Agreed. Being a libertarian doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your neighbors, just that you don’t think that values should be forced on anyone by force of law. Helping to carve a Christian utopia by outlawing sinful behavior that doesn’t infringe on the freedoms of others is a cheap trick that won’t fool God. The concept that God created free will and wants us to choose the good sort of falls apart if we coerce people into living their private lives according to a Christian ideal. God wants us to choose good, not force others to “choose” good by threatening them with imprisonment if they don’t.

    What kind of missionary would a Christian be who went to a foreign land and threatened to kill anyone who would not embrace Christian values? Well, he’d be a terrorist. Being a missionary is about spreading the message about God and trying to convince people to embrace it.

    “Every man for himself” is more like anarchy than libertarianism. Libertarianism is just about preserving personal freedoms and steering clear of religious fascism and the freedom-sapping doctrines of communism and socialism. This country was founded on such ideals. We are a country of religious people, but not a religious country. That distinction will be important if Christians ever become a minority. Imagine, if you will, the (rather comical) vision of a future in which America is ruled by atheistic homosexuals. How will Christians have any hope of practicing their religion freely? “Hey guys, we’re sorry we wouldn’t allow you to visit your partner in the hospital,” because visitation rights are only given to relatives and legal spouses.

    Christians have so long been the majority that it’s hard to think of an America where Christians don’t have the same freedoms as everyone else. Don’t let that lull you into a sense of complacency and start cheering on judges who ignore the law in favor of their Christian ideals or legislators who reduce the rights of others to pander to the Christian majority. If you help build a system that forces Christianity down people’s throats, you’re engineering a system that could also be used to shove a non-Christian ideal down the throats of Christians.

    So to sum up: people should be free to lazy and stupid as long as their actions don’t infringe upon the rights of others. People with a sense of community and kinship should reach out to these people with love, not outlaw their self-destructive behavior and cast them out of your communities lest they act as a negative influence on America’s youth.

  3. says

    So much emotion goes into the pot debate it is hard to isolate any real logic. Hannity and others who make the “gateway drug” argument confuse correlation with causation. While it is true many “hard” drug users smoked pot first, likely a much higher percentage consumed alcohol or smoked tobacco.

    Referring to “hard” drugs as distinct from pot raises an important question: what exactly makes a drug hard? I think addictiveness is a logical attribute. Alcohol and nicotine are both addictive, although apparently in different ways and to different degrees. Pot is not addictive. From any discussion of “hard” versus “soft” drugs and relative badness, marijuana must logically be dismissed as less dangerous than either beer or cigarettes.

    I do think there are good reasons to regulate usage of pot, as well as other recreational drugs. But arguing that pot is illegal because it is bad, and it is bad because it is illegal is just silly.

    I just wish we could have an honest discussion of this subject without all the demagoguery.

  4. says

    Working backwards by looking at hard drug users and saying that X percentage of hard drug users first tried marijuana is meaningless. You have not demonstrated cause and effect. Likewise, we don’t consider all Muslims in grave danger of becoming terrorists even though the majority of terrorists are Muslim. The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists and the vast majority of people who try marijuana are not going to become addicted to hard drugs.

    You are right about this logical fallacy of course, but Hannity and his followers are the kind of people who DO believe that the vast majority of Muslims are terrorists, so if I were you I would try to find another example to illustrate your point :)

  5. robert henges says

    okay first off that is kinda what they do they say hey read this book or i let your children starve to death seconed the thing were the people were stoned and the person was drunk and there was a crash it is more likely that the person who was drunk caused this crash, third if you were really worried about the drug you would have it legalized then the goverment could regulate and mandate it and the ONLY danger in pot is buying it from drug dealers, and lets face it nicotine and alcohol are the true lader drugs i can say in all honesty that i have pot for 8 years now and i have never touched any harder drugs, and i would say that while some of my freinds have experimented with other drugs most of them decided they were to much to expensive and didnt deliver what they wanted a safe drug so they just smoke weed, and in fact the number of people who go from pot to harder drugs and continue to do so is less then one third. while with alcohol that number doubles and people often say they were under the influence of alcohol while they tried the other drugs in the first place. Also if you dont want your kid to smoke pot well you should do the best you can to make sure that doesnt happen have it legalized because then he wont be able to get it as easily because the legal age would most likely be 18 or 21 so their. you should be more afraid of the alcohol then pot 100,000 people overdose each year from drinking thats just from alcohol poison ad in the number of deaths from peoples livers going out and you end up with something like 150000 and year then all this talk of pot causing brain damage…okay bullshit while it does give you temperarily short memory loss there is no long term memory loss seconed you kill 40 times the brain cells smoking a cig then you do smoking a joint on average people smoke about 20 of them a day so you do the math drinking on the same not kills one houndred times the amount of pot so their weed is not bad and you know what you cant blame pot because some dumb ass decided to do other drugs it was thier choice so fuck em

  6. Kayla says

    ok let me ask u this….if alcohol and cigs are less “dangerous” to our bodies and to the people around us…then why the hell would the gov. make them legal and make marijuana illegal ? I don’t care what anyone says because if u smoke pot..YES u are more likely to do HARDER drugs..so stop being in denial…

  7. says

    Kayla,
    Oh please. This is hardly the first example of the government defying reason or even common sense. Don’t you dare come here with a “government knows best” attitude.

    I don’t care what anyone says because if u smoke pot..YES u are more likely to do HARDER drugs..so stop being in denial…

    You’ve already declared yourself indifferent to logical arguments, but what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. There is a difference between saying that X percent of hard drug users started out using marijuana and saying that X percent of users of marijuana will go on to become hard drug users. People who use hard drugs are people with addictive personalities. The fact that X percent of hard drug users started out using marijuana is statistically meaningless because it is another factor (addictive personality) that is the main factor that influences all types of habitual drug use.

  8. dannyboy says

    Howdy! I’m a devout, traditionalist Catholic (a lover of Latin) and I can’t see any really good reason to differentiate between alcohol and marijuana. It’s all a matter of how much, under what circumstances, whether you are prone to addiction (psychological or physical), etc. The most important difference that I can see is that the conditions of production of marijuana make it a little unpredictable in most cases. Unless you grow your own, it is often difficult to tell just how much will intoxicate you to the point of sinful “drunkenness.” Maybe a good Catholic should be pushing for legalization and regulation to help people avoid this problem. Or maybe we should just be really, really careful. Alcohol intoxication is sometimes unpredictable too, in spite of the strong regulation of alcohol contents in beverages.

    As far as I know, the Church has no definitive teaching on this matter. Someone please tell me if I am wrong about this.

    peace
    dannyboy

  9. says

    As far as I have found, the Catholic church treats alcohol and other intoxicating substances the same. The issue there is lack of control of your actions that might cause you to sin.

  10. dannyboy says

    Well,peanut, I’m pretty sure that excessive inebriation with alcohol, marijuana, or whatever, is sinful in itself (the body is a temple, etc.).

    It is my understanding that that wrong is only compounded by the loss of judgment and control that attends inebriation if one is aware beforehand of those inevitable results (as anyone who has been drunk or seen a drunk person will be).

    But I can imagine cases in which a person might be ignorant of the loss of judgment and control that will attend excessive marijuana use (e.g., an first-time user without much information) who still smokes a lot intending to become very high (and thus incurs a sin of self-defilement regardless of the further consequences).

    Again, someone please do correct me if I err.

    peace
    dannyboy

  11. says

    From the Catechism:

    The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

    I see that as saying that it is the endangerment that is the issue.

  12. dannyboy says

    Yes, and that is certainly true. Thanks for drawing our attention to that relevant quote.

    What I was trying to say was that there are actually two potential sins involved in excessive use of alcohol or other mild intoxicants. One involves the grave sin described at 2290-91 of the Catechism (your quote). This sin is a disregard for the safety, health and welfare of yourself or other people.

    The other is plain old drunkenness in itself, regardless of whether it poses a risk to anyone else. Getting wasted in a padded cell is still a form of gluttony, regardless of its effects on yourself and others. I would say the same applies to marijuana. THC used occasionally in very small amounts seems like it could be a good thing to me (just as a glass of wine with dinner is a good thing that has been recommended by more than one saint).

    However, it is my understanding that ingesting alcohol or THC (or any of the good things that God gives us in nature) to the point of ‘drunkenness’ is not a good thing, regardless of whether the drunkenness will unduly affect your health and safety or that of someone else.

    Of course, alcohol has a direct biblical mandate in Christ’s life, while marijuana doesn’t… still they don’t seem radically different to me. Their effects are subtly different, I suppose, but not in a way that that seems relevant to their permissibility.

    Perhaps part of the problem is cultural. Maybe one of the reasons that bishops don’t stand up and defend moderate use of marijuana is that such use is extremely rare. Nearly everyone I know who smokes marijuana does so with the intention of getting extremely ‘mellow’. I really don’t know more than one person who would take just one or two small puffs and leave it at that. If people almost always drank alcohol with the express intent to get wasted, and if it had less cultural history in the West, I wonder whether bishops would tend to treat it the same way that they have marijuana.

    peace
    dannyboy

    peace
    dannyboy

  13. Jergy says

    I’m not real sure why there is always a debate over which drug is better or worse. Wake the hell up. None of them are good. If you’re doing them you’re very simply indulging in an act of self gratification not unlike jerking off to internet porn.
    Very simple here people.
    One is legal and one is illegal. Ya this is important
    Do you really think it makes a real difference which drug you’re using for any other reason? Maybe we should all get together and fight the government to legalize pot.Ya
    D R U G wake up

  14. Jesi says

    “but I haven’t known anyone who took hallucinogenic drugs who didn’t start out with marijuana.” michael jaquith

    The first drug I ever tries was shrooms. Then I tried salvia. I’ve still never tried marijuana and have never been tempted too because being spaced out and mellow isn’t my bag. I like hallucinogens only. Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug, it’s just easier to come by when your 15 than acid and mescaline.

  15. says

    “…but Hannity and his followers are the kind of people who DO believe that the vast majority of Muslims are terrorists…”

    Earlier, I lamented the use of demagoguery in this discussion. Of course, here is a perfect example of the same.

    Hannity does not suggest the majority of Muslims are terrorists. Clearly, if you ever listen to him you are hearing what you want to hear, not what he actually says.

    Yet, while most Muslims are not terrorists, if you were looking for terrorists that would be the logical crowd to examine.

  16. james_rice says

    “It (THC) saps productivity. It is essentially a hedonistic drug. IT is impossible to be in a responsible position while using this drug. It impairs judgment severely.”

    You say this with such conviction. Blanket statements will get you nowhere.

    I have used marijuana in a manner similar to that which a fair amount of people use alcohol. I graduated in the top 50 out of my high school class of 900. I went on to graduate from a pretty decent college and now hold a well-paying, satisfying job. All of this while using marijuana once a week or so. But apparently, according to your statement above, I’m a worthless, hedonistic, impaired fool. Ever heard of Carl Sagan? A highly respected scientist who used marijuana to his liking. But of course, he wasn’t productive or anything. Probably just a stupid pothead.

    Your perception of this debate is skewed by your own biases. Many large scale studies have shown cannabis impairs fine motor skills and driving abilities far less than alcohol does. If you knew anything about driving under the influence of marijuana, you’d knew that pot usually causes individuals to drive 30 under the speed limit, not 30 over. They also tend to admit and compensate for their impaired state, as opposed to the drunk driver who insists upon his sobriety.

    Now, after saying all this, in no way do I condone driving under the influence of anything. It is a poor decesion and it can indeed infringe upon the rights and safety of others. However, merely consuming cannabis in a private environement causes no such infrigement.

    Your arguement that marijuana SEVERELY impairs judgement is also flawed. Ask anyone who has been both drunk and high before. For the large majority of people, alcohol will cause much more judgement impairment. Plus, since you claim marijuana is an “anti-social” drug, whatever impairment is present will not be imposed upon others around. But truth be told, marijuana effects people differently. Some people tend to become quiet and reserved, while others become very talkative and social. A

    And i still fail to see the problem with being introspective. Perhaps you have been deluded by growing up in a society where deep thinking and philosophic thoughts are discouraged. If using your mind for anything other than straight thinking is a grave sin for you, then I can’t help but feel sorry.

  17. AL says

    “From the Catechism:

    The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

    I see that as saying that it is the endangerment that is the issue”

    It’s funny how you quote that paragraph, which doesn’t even deal with cannabis, and not the one which directly follows:

    “The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.

  18. dannyboy says

    AL,

    What is funny about it? Neither of those passages deals with cannabis. The first is about what I see as the real issue under debate, the moral status of consumption of drugs (which includes alcohol, THC, tobacco, etc.) in general. In the second passage, the authors are simply elaborating on the principle of endangerment from the first passage. I don’t see the introduction of a new idea there. Do you think that the second passage is somehow speaking especially of cannabis? What evidence do you have from the text?

    Now, if you are willing to say that even moderate recreational use of alcohol constitutes “direct co-operation in evil” (since in excess alcohol can be very damaging to health and society), I will not accuse you of being inconsistent when you condemn recreational and moderate use of marijuana. But if you are a Christian, I think you would still have a serious logical problem to deal with, since Christ Himself encouraged the recreational use of alcohol in his first public miracle at the wedding feast in Cana.

    Of course, I affirm what the Catechism is saying in the second passage about following the laws of the land. That is not the theological question at hand. I think the real question is whether, if it were legal, the procurement and use of cannabis would be morally licit.

    peace

  19. AL says

    “Neither of those passages deals with cannabis.”

    Is cannabis a drug? Does it not say that the use of drugs except on strictly therapeutic grounds is a grave offense? It is referring to illict drugs as well, as the use of alcohol and tobacco is mentioned in the previous paragraph along with food as being acceptable so long as not consumed to excess. That would be the sin of gluttony, which is what the first paragraph actually deals with.

  20. dannyboy says

    AL,

    OK, I see how you are reading those passages now. I should have said “neither of those passages deals EXPLICITLY with cannabis. Alcohol is a drug, as is nicotine. Even if we read the second passage as you do, the question is which category THC falls under. You are assuming that THC should fall under the second category, but many people on this thread have presented evidence for why it is actually no more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco, and may in fact be less dangerous to others than alcohol is.

    Can you offer real evidence why we should group cannabis in with a group of dangerous drugs distinct from alcohol and tobacco? If you do, please make sure that you aren’t ignoring information in previous posts.

    peace

  21. AL says

    It’s not about what the people of this thread think about the dangers of cannabis with regard to the official Catholic teaching, it’s what the Catholic Church does and the writers of the Catechism. Alcohol isn’t put in with drugs because we often speak of them differently. If you ask somone who has only been out drinking if they have taken any drugs tonight, and they have only drunk alcohol, they will likely answer “no”. All kinds of surveys and questionnaires ask “have you ever drank alcohol” and “have you ever taken any drugs” as seperate questions. Same with tobacco. On the other hand, everybody speaks of cannabis as a drug. If someone has taken cannabis, then they will say they have taken drugs. The first category isn’t about drugs. It’s about gluttony and things that if consumed to excess are examples of gluttony. The second passage is about drugs, and it’s clear in speaking to the average person they’ve put alcohol, tobacco and then drugs in a different category.

    Now if for some reason you don’t think that cannabis would be included in a passage that deals with the use of drugs then you need some evidence. Alcohol and tobacco are clearly mentioned seperately. So they’re not included. Nowhere is cannabis mentioned as being exempt. You have about as much evidence that they don’t mean cannabis when they talk about drug use as another would that they don’t mean heroin, meth or LSD. That is to say, no evidence at all.

    And the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers has stated that “Considering all the facts, it is irresponsible to consider cannabis in a trivial way and to think of it as being a ‘soft drug.” They, the last Pope and the Church have clearly spoken out against the legalization of drugs.

  22. dannyboy says

    AL,

    I think there is no serious debate about whether heroin or meth are seriously detrimental to health in a way that tobacco and alcohol are not. LSD might be another story.

    You adduce a ‘common sense’ meaning for “drugs” in that passage, but it is that very common sense which is under dispute here. The question is whether THC (in its various forms) OUGHT to be considered within the category of drugs that are dangerous to health in an immoral way. If we consider all the facts, is it reasonable to include THC in the same category as narcotics and amphetamines?

    Can you give a citation for your quote? This is a substantive argument for making the interpretation that you make, but I can’t judge the level of authority of that statement without a clear sense of its context and intent. Can you give a link to whatever document it comes from?

  23. AL says

    That quote comes from this article: http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=4642

    I was just addressing the point made here that the Catholic Church teaching on cannabis is the same as alcohol (moderate use is okay but not excessive). That is not the teaching as far as I am aware, and I have seen nothing to support that. I then mentioned how people speak of alcohol and drugs seperately to highlight why that passage does not refer to alcohol, apart from the fact that alcohol is previously and explicitly mentioned as being okay in moderation. Like I said, I cannot see why denouncing drug use apart from strictly medical use would not include cannabis. Cannabis is constantly talked of in the context of drugs. It is at the forefront of the debate on the “drug war”.

    And LSD is an hallucinogenic that alters a users’ perception of reality. It could have a long term impact on a person’s mental health and mental state, especially if they have a horrible “trip”. If drunkenness is a sin partly because it interferes with the use of reason then an induced hallucinogenic state certainly is. It’s effects on mental as much as physical health as why such drugs are wrong.

    Anyhow, John Paul II had this to say:http://www.healthpastoral.org/wordofpope/index.html

    “Some are of the opinion that the production and sale of certain drugs should be legalized. Certain authorities are prepared to do nothing, seeking merely to limit drug consumption by trying to control its effects. Consequently, in school the use of certain drugs is becoming common; this is encouraged by talk that tries to minimize the dangers, especially by distinguishing between soft and hard drugs, which leads to proposals for liberalizing the use of certain substances. This distinction disregards and downplays the risks inherent in taking any toxic product, especially behavioural dependency, which is based on the psychic structures themselves, the blurring of conscience and the loss of one’s will and freedom, whatever the drug.”

    So that seems to against the legalization and use of cannabis right there. And a document from the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care reads: http://www.healthpastoral.org/emergentpains/drugs/index.html

    “Using drugs is anti-life. “One cannot speak of ‘the freedom to take drugs’ or of ‘the right to drugs,’ because human beings do not have the right to harm themselves and they cannot and must not ever abdicate their personal dignity, which is given to them by God,” [7] and even less do they have the right to make others pay for their choice”.

  24. dannyboy says

    AL,

    Thanks for the clarifications.

    I don’t recall ever arguing that the Church’s position on marijuana IS the same as its teaching on alcohol, but rather that perhaps it ought to be, and would be if the cultural histories of the two substances were different. The point I was making is that the drunkenness and health risks associated with THC are rather similar.

    The classification of marijuana with substances that are automatically addictive or intoxicating is not a useful argument, since that classification is based not on facts, but on cultural norms and social theories. The argument here is about whether such a classification is reasonable. You can’t just assume that it is based on common assumptions. You have to prove it to participate effectively in the argument on that point.

    The documents and statements that you cite are far from authoritative, though they do deserve our respect and obedience. They certainly don’t close the theological question.

    Let me say again that I think the real question at hand is whether it is reasonable to treat cannabis differently from alcohol and cigarettes when evaluating the objective morality of their use (separately from questions of law or subjective conditions like alcoholism, genetic proclivity to addiction, overuse, etc.).

    In order to be consistent, I think you would have to include alcohol and cigarettes in your list of prohibited pleasures because both are potentially very detrimental to the health and wellbeing of both the user and those around him.

    The problem with that is that the current doctrinal statemtents already allow for moderate use of somewhat-harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco. Perhaps JPII and the Pontifical Council are under the impression that THC is by nature worse for one than tobacco and alcohol. But the Church is not a scientific body. We would need clear evidence showing the intrinsic harmfulness of marijuana. And that is the argument that has been underway in this thread. What is the most reasonable doctrinal position given the actual scientific evidence at hand?

    It seems from all the evidence that I have read that marijuana is different from alcohol and cigarettes, but if it were properly regulated it would not necessarily be more dangerous. Thus, given different cultural situations and assumptions, the bishops and the Pope might have tended to include THC in the category of those drugs which may be used in moderation.

    peace

  25. AL says

    whoops, couldn’t get the comments working properly there.

    Anyhow, I guess the moderate recreational use of marijuana is considered different from alcohol because of intoxication, and how quickly it occurs (as well as it being an hallucinogen and mind-altering drug). You can say for sure that two sips from a glass of wine will not get you drunk. But two puffs of a joint can get a person high or stoned. You can drink two glasses of wine without getting drunk, for sure, but I think you cannot smoke one full joint without getting stoned. So if using even the smallest amount of the drug can lead to intoxication then that is a reason why it would be sepearted from alcohol in those teachings. And tobacco is not intoxicating.

  26. dannyboy says

    AL,

    I basically agree with your point (as I think you will see from my earlier posts).

    But the strength of marijuana is extremely variable, and the kind of one-puff super-high that you describe is a product of careful cultivation. In the 60’s, marijuana was nowhere near as potent as it is today, and with careful regulation of THC levels, it could be moderated again today. Alcohol levels are moderated in alcoholic beverages in order to achieve such an end, as are the chemical components of tobacco, including nicotine levels (which could cause dire and immediate health problems if increased even by a relatively small amount). If a brewery started trying to sell something called “beer” that contained ten times the alcohol of regular beer, you can be sure that that product, as beery as it might seem, would not have the moderate effects that we expect from beer. And of course, knowing consumption of such a beverage would be sinful without making consumption of regular old beer problematic.

    What I am trying to say is that I don’t think the potency you describe is intrinsic to marijuana itself. The high THC levels that you are thinking of are common, but not a naturally-occuring feature of the plant when it appears in the wild. And so I’m back to my earlier idea that, if social and historical conditions had been different, or if we were to change the laws in order to carefully regulate marijuana’s intoxicating and carcinogenic properties (or if one were in Amsterdam where it is legal and one carefully selected a very mild THC product to ingest), it would be most reasonable to regard THC more like alcohol and nicotine than like opiates and hallucinogens.

    Again, I am just trying to parse out the logic of our theology here, not justify anyone’s destructive or gluttonous vices. All this is presented under the condition that if it in any way violates piety or truth, it is to be condemned.

    peace

  27. dannyboy says

    Oh, and one correction, AL. I used to be a smoker. Tobacco (at least in cigarette form) is certainly intoxicating the first several times it is used. It certainly was for me, anyway.

    peace

  28. Joe says

    “whoops, couldn’t get the comments working properly there.

    Anyhow, I guess the moderate recreational use of marijuana is considered different from alcohol because of intoxication, and how quickly it occurs (as well as it being an hallucinogen and mind-altering drug). You can say for sure that two sips from a glass of wine will not get you drunk. But two puffs of a joint can get a person high or stoned. You can drink two glasses of wine without getting drunk, for sure, but I think you cannot smoke one full joint without getting stoned. So if using even the smallest amount of the drug can lead to intoxication then that is a reason why it would be sepearted from alcohol in those teachings. And tobacco is not intoxicating.”

    Sorry, but are you being serious? You call cannabis a mind-altering drug, and imply that alcohol is not? Wrong.

    I also think you fail to notice that most drugs work in a similar way. The more you take, the more of a noticeable effect. This is true for both alcohol and cannabis. There is no straight jump from sober to intoxication. It is a gradual build up, for both cannabis and alcohol.

    Also, two puffs of a joint will most likely not get someone very high at all. Probably comparable to two units of alcohol.

    And you made quite the argumement earlier about hallucinogens being immoral because they alter your perceptions. But do you also know that LSD/mushrooms/etc are psychadelics, which essentially means “mind-manifesting”. They basically take your deepest thoughts and amplify them. While on psychadelics, you can analyze yourself, the world, and situations in a vey unique way. Please don’t demonize what you don’t know.

    I can easily attack the Catholic Church, but I don’t speak of what I don’t know.

  29. Llohr says

    It is scientific fact that alcohol users become less and less inhibited proportionate to the amount of alcohol they’ve consumed. Studies on marijuana and driving, however, have found that as marijuana users consume more, they become more and more aware of their impairment and adjust, or avoid driving entirely. It is not difficult to take the keys from someone who’s had too much to smoke.

    As to the (far)above ‘antisocial drug’ stigma, I’ve found the opposite. Pot smokers tend to gather amongst themselves to smoke whenever possible. It’s a group activity when such can be arranged.

    I’m speaking as someone who’s tried a wide variety of drugs. To be honest marijuana was not the first, tobacco was, followed by LSD, which was then followed by marijuana, and alcohol in quick succession. I was determined, at a very young age, to see what each was like because I wanted to understand why they were illegal, each I tried quickly showed me that the information available about them was generally incredibly inaccurate. Most of them, marijuana, tobacco, cocaine, ‘magic mushrooms’, tended to be surprisingly mild in affect, nothing like I had imagined. The effects of LSD seemed to manifest primarily in making strange new connections between things in your minds, seeing things in a different way. The hallucinations I experienced (over many many trials) Seemed to manifest primarily in the rippling of already existing patterns, much like looking at a picture composed of a series of slightly different sized concentric circles alternating black and white in color, the way such a picture appears to spin. During this time I was frequently lost in thought, but in full possession of my motor skills, and unlikely to take risks due to a reasonable level of paranoia.

    The drug that nearly killed me, however, was alcohol. I assumed that if the effects of all the drugs I’d heard and read so much about were so grossly misstated, that alcohol must have practically no effect. My parents didn’t drink, and by this time I was only 13 or 14, so it wasn’t a current trend among my peers. So I decided to find out. I drank more than a liter of vodka straight. In a matter of a few minutes. In mere minutes I experienced loss of motor skills, became unable to walk under my own power, falling constantly, barely able to control myself. I vomited until there was nothing left to vomit, then proceeded to dry-heave for much of the next 12 hours. I was literally dragged across a field to my friends house, where no one was home, and have only vague flashes of memories of being there.

    For all intents and purposes the next thing I recall is about noon the next day, lying in my bed, to find out only later that my friend had called my father because he was afraid I was going to die. I was then picked up and lain in the back yard to dry-heave until early in the morning, after which I was brought back in the house and put in bed.

    A frightening experience, I didn’t have the courage to try alcohol again for years, although I didn’t stop my experimentation with other drugs until I was fairly confident that I had tried every drug that I had the means to acquire. All the while wondering why there was such a discrepancy between what I’d been told about drugs, and the reality of their use.

    I reached that level of confidence at around the age of 16. After which I went on to be a national merit scholarship semi finalist, score a 1490 on the sat, and a 32 on the act. And am currently attending college in pursuit of a degree in English.

    The truth is, everyone is addicted to something, and addiction to anything, taken too far, will cause problems. Most drugs, however, really aren’t attractive enough to convince many of their users to use them regularly. Some 30% or more of the world has tried marijuana, only 5% smokes even as much as once a year for the remainder of their lives. Most prefer something stronger.

  30. Llohr says

    Almost forgot, never ever hallucinated from marijuana, after hundreds – if not thousands – of uses, one would think if it was truly a hallucinogen I’d have hallucinated in some way by now. As far as mind altering, obviously alcohol is also mind-altering, moreso in fact. Marijuana’s chief effect is a feeling of contentment, which has likely led to the ‘do-nothing-drug’ tag associated with it now.

  31. baseballplaya22 says

    OK,
    I am catholic and a marijuana user. Why is marijuana such a bad thing. Its people who are on this forum that talk bad about marijuana but I guarantee that they have not even used. Same thing with alcohol, all through middle school and high school I have heard, stay away from alcohol and marijuana, its bad for you, it can lead to other drugs. When people who have actually tried MARIJUANA and talk bad about it, please contact me. The only affects that people do not like about marijuana is that it makes you eat too much and it tires.
    Now if people are saying that marijuana is the “gateway” drug, and that hard users have used marijuana before going to a hardcore drug, bull s***. The hardcore drug users used alcohol before marijuana. I honestly believe alcohol is the “gateway” drug because I was extremely intoxicated when I hit my first bong and never had the desire to use marijuana ever.
    How many of people have died from alcohol poisoning? Thousands!!!!!
    How many people have died from a marijuana over-dose?
    ZERO with a capital Z, no people have.

    Marijuana does not hurt the body like alcohol does or even tobacco. And, do not say the long-term users of marijuana have hurt their bodies from it. There has been little research for long-term users. Marijuana is not a hard drug.
    It doesn’t even matter anyway, pot smokers have already started winning the battle for legalization, its legal in Denver, Colorado and somewhere in Cali. So you better deal with it, because you are going to deal with if you like it or not. I give it maybe 7 or 8 years before the US is marijuana legal.
    Peace!!!

  32. Mike says

    An adult Catholic guy here. I was a moderate drinker and stopped for Lent last year just for kicks!

    It changed my life in that I realized: Just as excessive alcoholism leads to job, life and family loss, moderate alcoholism was keeping me from progressing spiritually, professionally and intellectually!

    My new self-prescribed recuperative therapy of “two-big-puffs-of-marijuana-per-night” seems to fit the Catechism. But to not risk heresy I go on record a sinner.

    At further risk it seems to also be a pleasant complement to prayer.

    Linking the Divine Law to the laws of this country (e.g Weed is sin because it’s illegal) is as hypocritical as it is dangerous. So, we should all be careful and earnest!

    Peace be to you!

  33. dannyboy says

    Sorry, Mike. A Catholic is always obligated to follow the secular laws unless there is a compelling moral reason not to (see the Catechism, section 2238 and following).

    God’s law always trumps man’s law when they are in conflict, but where there is no conflict, it is part of God’s law to observe the secular laws. This includes speed limits, parking regulations, littering, and yes, consumption of various substances for pleasure.

    It may not be a mortal sin, but it is in nearly all cases a sin to consume marijuana for pleasure in the USA. Sorry, Mike, but I think you need to rethink your understanding of this. It is not hypocrisy to state clearly the actual teachings of the Church and to follow them. Perhaps you can find a legal substitute to drinking while you campaign for the legalization of marijuana? When the day comes that it is legal, perhaps I will smoke a bowl with you and sing Alleluia!

    pax
    drg

  34. Mike says

    An awesome and proud reply! There’s no reason to apologize when you’ve enlightened. Thank you so much.

    Could I even argue that it significantly helps avoid the occasion to sin? And while you’re on it, is it ever the duty of a righteous man to lie?

    pax americana!

  35. Mike says

    None of it except maybe pax americana. You are a scholar and your thoughts are sincerely appreciated!

  36. dannyboy says

    OK, well, St. Augustine would say that even if it is ever the secular duty of a man to lie (like if he is ordered to by his superiors, or something), he still ought never to lie — not even to save someone’s life. Better to not prevent the killing of a body than to actively commit the murder of your own soul by lying. The Catechism follows his condemnation of all lying. Still, both he and, as I understand it, the Catechism, seem to think that keeping silent or taking some alternative mode of action can usually allow us to accomplish the good we desire without resorting to lies.

    As far as I know, we can’t use one sin as a way of avoiding the occasion of another sin, even when it is only a venial sin used to avoid a mortal sin. But life is complicated in the trenches. I usually take that kind of complicated question to my confessor…

    peace

  37. jen says

    this is a comment about Llohr’s comment. “The hardcore drug users used alcohol before marijuana. I honestly believe alcohol is the “gateway” drug because I was extremely intoxicated when I hit my first bong and never had the desire to use marijuana ever.
    How many of people have died from alcohol poisoning? Thousands!!!!!
    How many people have died from a marijuana over-dose?
    ZERO with a capital Z, no people have.” All this information is comepletely true and people who think otherwise are idiots. i am doing research on alcohol compared to marijuana and the resulsts have been awesome. i have found so many things that prove marijuana to be a harmless drug. after weeks on weeks of research, no one will ever tell me that marijuana is bad and not get a five to ten minute feedback that kills thier hole point. alcohol is more a gateway drug then marijuana. i tried alcohol first too. the only people who cant handle marijuana are people who are allergic and pussies who believe their mommies who believed their mommies and so on. my mom is a nurse and she has no problem with me smoking pot 6/7 or 7/7 days a week. because i have a strait A average. bullshit marijuana is bad for you. also, if you look up the deaths rates in the U.S, tobacco is #1, alcohol is either 2 or 3. and FDA approved drugs are their somewhere in between them and marijuana which is at the bottom with zero. pot also helps some diseases or illnesses. And one more thing…the only reason marijuana was illegalized was to keep the hemp industry from being a billion dollor company.it waould have replaced many materials we use today includeing paper. it can be recycled 7 times compared to 3. it had nothing to do with the “badness” of the drug. Harry J Anslinger was the the director of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and he made one comment…”marijuana may lead to opium use.” that is how the gateway drug MYTH got started. no one had real research and they still dont. also it is not legal becuase no politician will risk his job and populatity and money to be pro drug. smoke on smart people.

  38. Jared the stoner says

    I have no idea where most of you people are from but I smoke weed several times every day and I,ve been doing it for 5 years. By what many of you are saying I am a stupid pothead and I’m supposedly going to start doing crack or something. This is the most ignorant thing I’ve heard all week, MOST OF YOU PEOPLE NEVER SMOKED POT! And if you did I,m sure you only tried it once or twice. P.S. Those of you who said there is no difference between alcohol, congradulations you are an idiot. SMOKE WEED

  39. Jared the stoner says

    I have no idea where most of you people are from but I smoke weed several times every day and I,ve been doing it for 5 years. By what many of you are saying I am a stupid pothead and I’m supposedly going to start doing crack or something. This is the most ignorant thing I’ve heard all week, MOST OF YOU PEOPLE NEVER SMOKED POT! And if you did I,m sure you only tried it once or twice. P.S. Those of you who said there is no difference between alcoholand weed, congradulations you are an idiot. SMOKE WEED

  40. Roger says

    Jared–

    Well, you certainly write like a pothead, so you have us convinced you indeed smoke several times a day.

    Is there a point to be made here?

  41. Alvin says

    i was just searching google for alcohol versus marijuana just to pass the time and felt the need to pitch my two cents.

    yes, the war on drugs is a waste of yours and my taxed income. marijuana will never be stopped. the government will never stop the use of drugs. what it should do is try to teach and help those of us who are curious about drugs. explain it to us with rational thinking and without all the fearmongering that the whitehouse likes to push ever so frequently..
    upon finishing, i’ll get back to my biz and let you do yours
    blaze up. live free.
    peace

  42. elena says

    i also was searching for marijuana vs. alcohol and found this.

    i think that it is the governments duty to keep us well informed of the actual risks of marijuana smoking but because most of the government gets to where they are by deceiving and being biased this will never happen. most people do not understand what happens to you when you use the drug. no one even bothers to say hey here are the health risks. the most depressing part is those commercials against drug use. where are the commercials against alcohol? not only is the media making alcohol seem more user friendly, the government is actually backing that up. there ARE health risks with smoking marijuana, but they do not include overdose, fetal damage, cancer, brain cell loss or loss of immune system. also for those of you who made comments on the driving impairments of alcohol verses marijuana i want you to know that a whopping 70 – 90 % wrecked solely from alcohol use compared to a small 7 – 20 % who wrecked while under the influnce of marijuana. even in those cases involving marijuana MOST could NOT BE PROVED TO JUST BE FROM POT USE. i am not saying there are no cases of people crashing because of pot use but come on…. how blind are we to not realize that alcohol is by far worse in that situation.

    as far as marijuana being a gateway drug, that has NOT scientifically been proven. NOT. does not matter what the argument is for that statement, if science says it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

    i am a pot smoker, but guess what? even if i wasn’t i could see this drug should be legalized. the evidence is OVERWHELMING that the government is trying to make us think it’s bad when it’s not near as bad as alcohol! i have been effected greatly by the use of alcohol. i will not go into detail but i have seen what alcohol does to people. i have smoked for 4 years. in only 2 years i experienced someone close to me losing EVERYTHING THEY HAD INCLUDING THEIR LIFE DUE TO ONLY ALCOHOL. i have not had one wreck because of pot. i have not lost a job because of pot. i have not quit school because of pot. i have not changed my life for the worse because of pot.

    arguing that it’s a sin? well i don’t follow a religion. my life is however dedicated to seeing through my third eye and finding a higher level of consciousness. i believe in God, but i do not think it is bad to smoke pot. no matter my sins on earth God being the forgiving being it is, will FORGIVE ME. many people have sex before marriage, which is considered a sin, but God forgives you. God created us and we are human and we sin. No human goes through life without sinning. none.

    anyways no matter how you try to argue my points one thing is certain, marijuana is not a bad drug no matter how you look at it.

    om

  43. Pami says

    What is the conservative stance on medical marijuana? I wouldn’t say I fall into the typical “conservative” paradigm but am conservative on some issues. What I don’t understand is how a natural medicine not just a derivative of the plant but the PLANT ITSELF is not a viable Christian alternative to synthetic medicines? Does the bible not specifically address the use of “all seed-bearing plants” as our gifts from God? I would be dead if not for this gift. Synthetic drugs, even those prescribed by doctors, are dangerous (look at the FDA AERS report at http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/viewresource.asp?resourceID=145). The law should allow for those who choose a natural, CHRISTIAN alternative to those drugs. Any Christian-Conservatives have an opinion on this?

  44. says

    Most Conservatives I’ve talked to view medical marijuana as an attempt to legalize marijuana for any purpose. Which it is. Even though they have no good arguments against it per se, they oppose it to prevent the door from opening a crack.

  45. Elias Monty says

    Hello all. I am a soon-to-be high school sophomore, and I am fascinated by this topic. However, I am a bit paranoid of developing a bias. Though I haven’t even seen marijuana in person, I am quickly finding that the evidence for its legalization is staggering. Yet evidence against pot proves to be smoke and mirrors set up by xenophobes who feel empowered when defining socital norms within their own terms. Currently, the only thing standing between me and pot is a ludicrous law. I ask ANYONE to dispute me.

  46. Elias Monty says

    Oh, and I apologize if the last post was at all arrogant. Peace. (And please respond; I would love some input.)

  47. Just Some Guy says

    Just want add some questions here or something like that.

    Anti-social? – Where can you socially smoke marijuana? Cannabis users are forced to be secretive. Also they are forced into a derogated society(limited job opportunities, etc.) Unless you are able to hide it.

    Why is no one arguing about prior to 1937(Prohibition date?) to ~10,000B.C.? Cannabis was a part of everyone’s lives! (Rope, canvas, medicines, etc.. Do some research) Everyone grew cannabis, was always used to barter with, etc. Probably why it was not distinguished in biblical texts… No reason to? (Only postulating.) Potential to be the first “billion dollar” crop before prohibition. And a lot more.

    Long terms studies… Cannabis is not illegal everywhere… What about Jamaican’s or Rastafarian’s long term health?

    Individuals who have not used marijuana….. How can you comment on something you know nothing about? It’s pretty obvious that researching the topic leads to a wide array of possibilities. No? Unless you have used it, please stop commenting.

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