…And God sent Adam and Eve into the garden and pointed at the tree in the centre. “Lo, “ he said “I give unto you all the fruits of the garden for your pleasure. But whatever happens, don’t smoke the stuff growing on that tree. It will rot your brains…”
Not really. Intoxicants are one of those grey areas in the Bible but that has not stopped Christians from arguing over the use of wine and strong drink, an argument that has extended these days, to the use of Cannabis.
Back in my day, the Church Elders would quote Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” To which we would reply: Ecclesiastes 9:7 – “Drink your wine with a joyful heart…” At that point, someone would grumble that the even Devil quotes scripture to his own end.
Intoxicants: good or bad? I came across an article that discussed whether Christians should be using Cannabis, something I never thought to see in my lifetime. If you forego these days, you are most likely in the minority. My barber for example, uses Cannabis as an elixir against old age arthritis pains. He swears by it. Others have told me that if you were to ignore all the bad stuff said about pot and concentrated on the medicinal aspects, it would be considered a wonder drug because of the stable of ills it is supposed to remedy, all in one substance.
Well, that bull is out of the barn. If I walk downtown, I smell marijuana smoke. If I go for a bike ride on a popular pathway, I smell dope most of the way. It makes me wonder just how many people strolling past me are stoned. I see that during the Pandemic, deaths in the 20-40 age group rose sharply. It was from recreational drug used during the Coronavirus shutdowns, notably pot laced with fentanyl. Similar stats from CAMH noted a spike in cancer and mortality rates that came from alcohol abuse in 2020, also related to the Pandemic. Those concerns go unheard just like the pictures of rotted lungs that adorn a cigarette pack. The users don’t care and are willing to take the risk. It’s a hard point to argue once the government has made everything legal. My neighbours who are about my own age, have a greenhouse dedicated to growing their own “product”. They sit around smoking it with their kids on the patio. No one would call them stoners. They run a successful business and drive fancy cars.
I am a non-user. That is to say that despite the hype, I prefer to go without. Not to say that I have never tried anything lest anyone say I am a party pooper. But I never saw a user I considered a life model. Most of the hard-core partiers I have seen could have their world falling in on their head and not notice. It’s not a recommendation. More than that, I have been drunk, and high, and didn’t like the experience enough to continue the usage.
In my old neighbourhood I was a notable tea-totaler in any kind of gathering. People remarked on it. The old neighbours still tell the story of when cops showed up one day hammering at my front door. They were pounding away because I was in the back yard and could not hear them. Not because I was drunk, but because I was running a power sander to finish a piece of furniture. The cops came back and told me that my car was called in by someone saying they had seen me drunk driving. I was drinking from a beer bottle and weaving all over the road, they claimed. It’s true, I had been to the Home Depot and back. On the way I had bought a roti and a ginger beer. The truck driver had seen me swigging out of the brown bottle which looked like a beer bottle. I would like to think that the “swerving all over the road” business was merely embellishment to his story. “I don’t drink”, I told the cops. “You could ask any of my neighbours.”
Do drugs harm society? There is the slippery slope argument. Now that pot is decided, there are voices out there saying that we should decriminalize all drug use, because putting it out in the open would best allow social workers to do their thing. Nobody would be overdosing in quiet or getting hepatitis from dirty needles. I have to weigh in here. Last time I walked through my home town, there were people lying on the corners asking for money. They were not poor, per se. They were mostly oxycontin users. At some point they had tried it and liked it. Now they lie in the public space trying to find ways to feed their habit. In my own neighbourhood, crime has gone way up, notably car and garage break-ins. Stoned kids come by at night looking to fence some stuff for drug money. This trend is new, and coincided with the legalization of pot.
If you are at all paranoid, it might bother you that the government is now your pusher. They sell drugs and you are free to use them. To my mind, a government who WANTS its citizens stoned could be accused of negligence. You might also wonder if they are up to no good and don’t want you to notice. I think the last thing I could bring myself to do, would be to register on a government site as a marijuana user. I refuse to give them that satisfaction. I prefer to see my government with a clear head, and to call them out with a sound mind.
There might be solid reasons to use dope. I don’t doubt it. There are as many reasons to NOT use dope. If I were to use my discretion, I would go for the latter. Mostly, I think I would be ashamed to admit to anybody that I had to go through my days stoned as a coping mechanism. I would have to admit that when things got rough, I really could not find anything productive to do, that might alleviate the situation. I would rather numb myself to reality and stumble through my life with half a brain. At least that’s how I see it.
When you medicate yourself, you become oblivious to reality. All this wonderful world here to enjoy, would go to waste. More than that, I don’t want anyone to say that I am not of sound mind. When there are so many things in the world that come against you, especially with age, I would like to think I made it to the other side in the best frame of mind I could muster, unmedicated.