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I didn't really know where to put this, but because it concerns morals primarily I figured this would be a more logical place.

So I live in Michigan where cannabis, or marijuana whatever you want to call it, is completely legal for adult use. Weed stores and social clubs will be opening up in the next couple months. Pretty soon there will be as many pot shops here in Detroit as there are Starbucks. Michigan is far from alone in this new trend, California and Colorado as well as other states have the same thing going on. Marijuana is no longer some illicit street drug, it is becoming socially accepted and mainstream. So now we come to the moral issues...

1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church claims that the use of drugs, except for therapeutic uses, is gravely sinful. Fair enough. But what constitutes a drug isn't really clearly spelled out. Is caffeine a drug? I'd say probably a majority of us use that on a daily basis and it's not exactly done for medicinal purposes. Is alcohol a drug? The church actually permits recreational use of that drug, as long as drunkenness is avoided. Now that marijuana is legal, at least in my state, where does it fit into this framework?

This actually gets extremely complicated. One could say that smoking marijuana is sinful because its intoxicating. Sure that's true; assuming you are smoking a high thc strain of cannabis. But with the legal market there are literally hundreds of different cannabis products, from flower to tinctures to edibles and everything in between. Some strains have high thc and low cbd and can greatly impair the mind. Other strains are low in thc and high in cbd and have a relaxing effect without hardly altering the mind at all. Some are equal parts thc and cbd and cause a sedative effect while mitigating the mind altering effects. Are all of these products in the same category morally? What about hemp products, which contain less than .3% thc? If those are fine, then what about a cannabis product containing 1-2% thc, which is legal in a state like mine? Does that suddenly become immoral? How much of a mind-alteration is necessary to make the use of a cannabis product morally illicit? Could one eat a high-cbd, low-thc edible morally, as an alternative to alcohol after a hard days work? Or is that immoral?

2. What constitutes therapeutic use? I'm sure most of us could agree that cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy would be well within the bounds of morality to use cannabis, even high thc cannabis, to relieve nausea and pain. But what about other "therapeutic" uses? Suppose someone has insomnia and has a terrible time getting to sleep and staying asleep. Cannabis, THC especially, is known to have a powerful sedative effect and can help people fall asleep and sleep through the night. Is taking it for that "therapeutic" purpose immoral? Must one have a doctor involved for it to be moral, or can a person assess their own symptoms and use the substance therapeutically? Where do we draw the line with therapeutic use, which even the catechism clearly does permit?

3. Is it morally permissible to work or invest in the legal cannabis industry? In legal states, like mine, the legal cannabis industry is a huge and booming industry that will create countless jobs and tremendous profits. Many people who are currently unemployed or underemployed could get into this industry and make a great living. Would that be a legitimate career choice or a cooperation in evil? What about auxiliary businesses that don't deal in cannabis directly but are nevertheless integrally linked to the industry? What about working/investing in the medicinal side of the industry?

As you can see this is becoming a very complex moral subject, which unfortunately the magisterium of the Church hasn't really addressed. How should we as Catholics in legal states navigate all of this? To be honest I used to use cannabis regularly and it was tremendously helpful in helping me stay asleep all night, it'd be nice to know I can use it for that purpose without committing mortal sin. But I submit myself to what is right and true and not what I may desire. So these moral issues have a personal dimension for me as well, as i'm sure they do for many other Catholics as well. So what are your thoughts on these moral questions?
I use to smoke pot. Since becoming Catholic, I don't. I don't think we should as Catholics. However, I do not think it's a mortal sin when smoked just a little. Afterall, even Leo XIII use to drink soft drinks lightly spiked with coke, as was normal for the times. But I would never want my children smoking, so I don't do it. I'm not going to let them be around it.

Also, I'm not big on conversations where we figure out what's licit or "just a venial sin." I'm more interested in asking myself, "What else in my life could I cut back on in order to grow in temperance?" or "What in my life do I need to abstain from in order to mortify my senses?"

But I'm not a theologian.
It's crazy but I'm not in favor of legalization and regulation because it will inevitably lead to Big Canna the same way we have Big Pharma. It creates monopolies and turns what is basically a plant created by God into a tool for the State and big business to get rich. 

As for licitness and sin, I suppose any substance can be sinful if used to excess with marijuana being no exception.  

As a long time daily user I don't think it really effects me negatively the way even alcohol would.  There's relatively no withdrawal (I'm about 4 days into no use after years of daily use) and no real impairment with just a few puffs.  I dont even really crave it right now.  

Personally I think it ought to be between a man, his conscience and God. 

I still think alcohol has way worse social effects than weed, and yet it's not sinful in moderation.
(09-17-2019, 10:19 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: [ -> ]It's crazy but I'm not in favor of legalization and regulation because it will inevitably lead to Big Canna the same way we have Big Pharma. It creates monopolies and turns what is basically a plant created by God into a tool for the State and big business to get rich.

And that's bad why?

Whatever the faults of big businesses, they don't go around shooting people they have problems with, and they try to make their products reasonably safe, since killing your customers is bad for business. Drug dealers and gangs, of course, do these things.

I don't know where the Catechism gets the idea that the use of drugs is 'gravely sinful'. It's long been taught that the sin is in losing the use to reason, such as getting drunk, but not all drug use gets you so high you can't think straight. Moderate alcohol use is permitted, so if marijuana affects someone similarly, I don't see it as any different. And supporting the illegal drug trade doesn't apply when the drug in question is legal. As we know with the death penalty, the Catechism isn't infallible, except where it repeats prior teachings that are. if any use of drugs is sinful, alcohol and tobacco would have to be included.

And then there's the issue of whether the state should legalise it even if it is sinful. I'm of the opinion that the state should tolerate drugs, since the effects of legalisation are less bad than the war on drugs, but that's ultimately a political, not a moral, question.
A full moral analysis will look at the act itself as it pertains to an individual and also attempt to look at the trends and circumstances that tend to surround that act. In terms of the health effects, in many cases it is still too early to say much with certainty although correlations are definitely emerging that do not make both short and long-term marijuana use look good overall.

Chemical substances like caffeine aren't comparable in a relevant sense to alcohol or THC since these produce different kinds of psychological effects, and it's precisely those effects that are the issue. The problem of intoxication exists only because we have a rational nature. An animal cannot commit the sin of intoxication even if it can get intoxicated because it has no rational nature. Hence, when looking at the morality, we are looking at how these chemicals affect us psychologically as rational beings. 

I've copied below a link to a 2016 summary of the medical literature and a Thomistic analysis that is pretty good. It addresses some of your points, such as the degrees of THC and what therapeutic use constitutes, although it doesn't address CBD directly unfortunately. Obviously, the significant difference between THC and CBD is that you can't get high from CBD (as far as I know), so that would have an important part to play in a full moral analysis. The paper also addresses some of the social concerns but the arguments do not hinge on how socially acceptable marijuana use is. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102207/

A different, shorter editorial written for the lay person is here: https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/rel...ality.html

The magisterium and relevant congregations or bodies of bishops have in fact addressed marijuana and recreational drug use a number of times in the past few decades and, as far as I know, condemn it for recreational purposes. The general consensus seems to be that THC is different than alcohol insofar as the former creates a high, of various degrees, and this is always immoral since it directly goes against temperance, but also the other health issues make the consumption of THC dangerous to an extent that alcohol does not, such as developing psychosis or schizophrenia, which multiple studies have examined. From the paper above:


Quote:We have seen that marijuana use entails a high, which indicates some level of intoxication. Thus marijuana is contrasted with alcohol, which can be consumed moderately without the user becoming intoxicated [....]


Obviously, all the products that contain different amounts of THC or CBD are not going to be on the same "moral ground," but this doesn't really mean anything since it is not a product that constitutes a moral act, but a human's free choice based on intelligent (or lack thereof) deliberation, which is always more or less culpable. It's sort of like asking which type of gun is more sinful than others. The gun isn't the issue. The issue is the intention of the user.


Quote:[...] that's ultimately a political, not a moral, question.


Have you never picked up a papal encyclical on Catholic Social Teaching?

All political issues are at root moral issues. Where has the Church ever taught an arbitrary and strong distinction? Political philosophy is the application of moral principles to society, which is a moral unit, and fostering the common good, which is a moral good. The fundamental principle of political authority that the Church has always held is that it comes from God and is given to an earthly ruler(s) for the sake of the common good. Politics is therefore eminently a moral matter. To separate the two is one of the foundational lies of liberalism.

Whether circumstances in America or elsewhere allow for natural law principles to guide politics is a different issue.
(09-17-2019, 10:49 AM)Paul Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-17-2019, 10:19 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: [ -> ]It's crazy but I'm not in favor of legalization and regulation because it will inevitably lead to Big Canna the same way we have Big Pharma. It creates monopolies and turns what is basically a plant created by God into a tool for the State and big business to get rich.

And that's bad why?

Whatever the faults of big businesses, they don't go around shooting people they have problems with, and they try to make their products reasonably safe, since killing your customers is bad for business. Drug dealers and gangs, of course, do these things.

I don't know where the Catechism gets the idea that the use of drugs is 'gravely sinful'. It's long been taught that the sin is in losing the use to reason, such as getting drunk, but not all drug use gets you so high you can't think straight. Moderate alcohol use is permitted, so if marijuana affects someone similarly, I don't see it as any different. And supporting the illegal drug trade doesn't apply when the drug in question is legal. As we know with the death penalty, the Catechism isn't infallible, except where it repeats prior teachings that are. if any use of drugs is sinful, alcohol and tobacco would have to be included.

And then there's the issue of whether the state should legalise it even if it is sinful. I'm of the opinion that the state should tolerate drugs, since the effects of legalisation are less bad than the war on drugs, but that's ultimately a political, not a moral, question.
Big business monopolies do kill people, but in other ways. They choke out the little guy and set up laws and policies that benefit themselves alone, making it nearly impossible for small businesses and independent guys to get involved. 

 They write the rules and stack the cards in their favor, they are little more than a bloated corporate mafia, not much different from the drug cartels only with a thin veneer of legitimacy because they are state sanctioned.  It sickens me that cannabis is falling to this same scheme.  


No doubt drug gangs are a moral evil, but so are big corporate oligarchies. Look at the whole Oxy scandal recently, where that company knew that stuff was addictive as hell yet pushed it and led to thousands of deaths and opened the door to hard drug addiction (heroin) once the pharmacist/doctor drug pushers stopped writing scripts. 

With cannabis why not just tolerate it and let people grow it for themselves and or buy it wherever they can find it? 

The other bad thing about Big Cannabis and legalization is that it can open the door to more people wanting to use.  At least on the black market or if it's not totally accepted it probably keeps many from trying it.  I guess I don't necessarily want a lot of people becoming users. 

I'm a lifelong addict myself and to be honest I wouldnt wish it on my worst enemies.  Let drugs remain in a gray area and don't punish users so harshly rather than legalize, regulate and legitimize it. 

Point well taken on the catechism though, as certain things can and do change and I would hope the Church would reconsider its harsh stance on cannabis. 

In closing I hope I don't come off too harsh, it's not my intention.  It's just a subject I feel quite strongly about.  I'm not really the type of dude to like to push people's buttons, not on purpose at least.
(09-17-2019, 12:14 PM)piscis Wrote: [ -> ]The magisterium and relevant congregations or bodies of bishops have in fact addressed marijuana and recreational drug use a number of times in the past few decades and, as far as I know, condemn it for recreational purposes. The general consensus seems to be that THC is different than alcohol insofar as the former creates a high, of various degrees, and this is always immoral since it directly goes against temperance, but also the other health issues make the consumption of THC dangerous to an extent that alcohol does not, such as developing psychosis or schizophrenia, which multiple studies have examined. From the paper above:


Quote:We have seen that marijuana use entails a high, which indicates some level of intoxication. Thus marijuana is contrasted with alcohol, which can be consumed moderately without the user becoming intoxicated [....]

I’m not sure why alcohol always gets a pass among Catholics, even though it can cause plenty of problems in the wrong hands too. I have friends who smoke marijuana all the time. I also have friends who are alcoholics. When my friends get high, they write stories, listen to music, and eat. When my friends get drunk, they cry, they yell, they disappear for hours and their loved ones can’t find them, and they pass out right before it’s time for them to go to work. They also tend to urinate where they shouldn’t.
(09-17-2019, 01:11 PM)Credidi Propter Wrote: [ -> ]
(09-17-2019, 12:14 PM)piscis Wrote: [ -> ]The magisterium and relevant congregations or bodies of bishops have in fact addressed marijuana and recreational drug use a number of times in the past few decades and, as far as I know, condemn it for recreational purposes. The general consensus seems to be that THC is different than alcohol insofar as the former creates a high, of various degrees, and this is always immoral since it directly goes against temperance, but also the other health issues make the consumption of THC dangerous to an extent that alcohol does not, such as developing psychosis or schizophrenia, which multiple studies have examined. From the paper above:


Quote:We have seen that marijuana use entails a high, which indicates some level of intoxication. Thus marijuana is contrasted with alcohol, which can be consumed moderately without the user becoming intoxicated [....]

I’m not sure why alcohol always gets a pass among Catholics, even though it can cause plenty of problems in the wrong hands too. I have friends who smoke marijuana all the time. I also have friends who are alcoholics. When my friends get high, they write stories, listen to music, and eat. When my friends get drunk, they cry, they yell, they disappear for hours and their loved ones can’t find them, and they pass out right before it’s time for them to go to work. They also tend to urinate where they shouldn’t.

I don't know, maybe because our Lord Himself (God) is fine with alcohol, and the Catholic West gave us wine and beer? Or are you talking about the abuse of alcohol, which the same Catholic West has always called a mortal sin because, well, the Bible also strongly suggests that? I don't think you were trying to argue, but your wording makes it seem that way.

I also said immediately after what you just quoted: "It is not a product that constitutes a moral act, but a human's free choice based on intelligent (or lack thereof) deliberation, which is always more or less culpable. It's sort of like asking which type of gun is more sinful than others. The gun isn't the issue. The issue is the intention of the user." Which is basically what you just said.

What you just quoted from me points to the medical literature, and I referenced it only to make the point that the physiological and psychological effects of alcohol vs. THC are different to an extent that it affects the morality of using either substance as argued by the Dominican theologian in the paper I linked to. Nowhere did I say or suggest the abuse of alcohol is acceptable.
Quote:The general consensus seems to be that THC is different than alcohol insofar as the former creates a high, of various degrees, and this is always immoral since it directly goes against temperance, but also the other health issues make the consumption of THC dangerous to an extent that alcohol does not, such as developing psychosis or schizophrenia, which multiple studies have examined.

I am certainly in agreement that recreational use would be sinful, at least as regards intoxicating strains/formulations of cannabis. Hemp products and low-thc formulations that dont induce cognitive impairment would not fit in this category it would seem. So while it is true that a couple puffs of a 23% thc strain of cannabis will no doubt induce an altered state of mind, and would thereby be immoral and couldn't really be used in a way that conforms with the virtue of temperance, the same couldn't be said of a 15% cbd 3% thc strain, which would do little more than induce relaxation. So again, with all these different cannabis products it becomes a tricky issue morally.

Also, the evidence for mental health problems due to cannabis use is complicated. For one, only thc is the issue here, cbd actually has anti-psychotic properties and mitigates the effect of thc. Also, the evidence correlating thc and mental health problems is only strong as regards young people below roughly age 25. It seems that thc can negatively impact the mind in those who's prefrontal Cortex is still developing. There is very little substantial evidence of long-term cognitive impairment in adult users. By all counts imaginable cannabis is a safer substance than alcohol. The plant itself is one of the most non-toxic plants known to man, with no lethal dose possible, and has tremendous therapeutic potential for a wide range of symptoms. Unfortunately I think many of these Bishops are ignorant as regards cannabis, which isn't surprising because it was illegal and stigmatized for so long.

I'd eventually like to see a detailed analysis come down from Rome to provide Catholics with guidance on this issue. I just hope itd be well-informed, and not a regurgitation of 90's DARE propaganda. It's definitely not as simple as weed = bad.

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(09-17-2019, 12:14 PM)piscis Wrote: [ -> ]Have you never picked up a papal encyclical on Catholic Social Teaching?

All political issues are at root moral issues.

There are moral principles, but there are plenty of issues where there is no one Catholic answer. Maybe I could have phrased that better. Toleration of something is one such thing, where it's ultimately a decision for those in charge of a society to make. The moral principles are that the state, whose authority is from God, given to help man do what's right and make it to heaven, has the right to prohibit things that are harmful to him. It's moral for the state to outlaw drugs. Or pornography. But it's also a moral principle that sometimes the state can choose to tolerate such things to prevent worse evils. Deciding which is worse isn't always just a moral judgment, since it depends on the situation and conditions in a particular society. And that's a judgment for politicians, not the Church, to make. It's not strictly a moral one, like 'abortion is wrong and should therefore be illegal'.
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