Is Marijuana use mortal sin? I say YES... (and it's now legal in my province.)
Excellent post, magister. I think you've said it all.
(10-18-2018, 12:02 AM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: So, here's my reasoning as to why marijuana use is a mortal sin in itself, but could in certain cases be considered a venial sin or perhaps in a few more rare cases, no sin at all.

In passing, this is the same as with lying : a mortal sin in itself, but when the matter is light, it might be venially sinful.

First we have to distinguish between use and abuse with any drug. 

Using a drug can be for therapeutic purposes (for a real medical condition under the supervision of a doctor or equivalent authority, e.g. OTC drugs) or recreational purposes (without medical justification or supervision and only for psychoactive effects but in a moderate quantity inflicting no serious damage to one's body or rational power). Abusing a drug is use in a way which may cause physical, psychological, legal, economic, or social harm to oneself or to others. Addiction is simply compulsive abuse. Abuse and addiction clearly are grave sins.

In marijuana the principle psychoactive component is THC. Its effects vary from person to person and from use to use. Most natural marijuana before modern use as a drug had a THC content from about 0.5 to 3 percent. (This amount is similar to the alkaloid content of the coca leaf, from which cocaine is made, and this leaf is commonly used and chewed without major deleterious effect). Modern cultivars of marijuana have increased THC upwards of 30 percent, though some have approximately 7 percent THC content. Clearly marijuana today has been specially cultivated to produce a "high" and is not simply the same substance it was 100 years ago, nor is it the same as a standard hemp plant.

The effects also vary based on the quantity used, how it is used, one's physical condition, the environment, and one's psychiatric state, among other factors. Even from use to use people may have different experiences. 

While there are physical effects (increased heart rate, muscle relaxation, vasodilation, blood pressure changes), most of the effects are psychoactive and particularly hallucinogenic, but not to the extent of true hallucinogens like LSD. It produces euphoria, relaxation, altered sensation especially towards visual and auditory stimuli, changes in emotional responses and fear, reduction of pain stimuli. At high doses true hallucinations, loss of voluntary coordination, disruption of memory and learning functions, increase in episodic memory with disruption to continuous memory. Long term, marijuana has been shown to lead to irreversible cognitive impairment especially in adolescents, risk of psychosis and depression, possible addiction though much lower than even nicotine and only at very high and long-term doses. Regular use, however, can create physical dependence and withdrawl symptoms. 

Effects depend on the method of ingestion, but peak 15-30 minutes after use and can last, depending on dosage, up to 4-6 hours. Because THC is fat soluble, however, while the "high" wears off relatively quickly the THC will remain and cause effects for days to weeks after use.

The morality of an act depends on several factors, the object, the intention and the circumstances as well as the moral duties that might be violated. In the case of marijuana we can see that it does have possible harmful effects on body and mind, if used recreationally the intention is pleasure not the good of the body or soul, the circumstances are not benign (often it is an illegal action with fairly stiff penalties, it can easily cause scandal, the environment in which it is used is not usually one dispositive towards traditional Catholic morals, there is risk of greater sins quite easily especially because of the manipulation of our emotional faculties and dulling of our reason). Recall also that we have a duty of Justice towards God who is has absolute dominion over us and our body, we have a duty of Justice towards neighbor and society and drug use has societal effects and harms and we also have a duty toward the use of pleasures with temperance and prudence.

As an added circumstance, marijuana production is illegal in most places, and even where legal is a "fruit of a poisonous tree". The marijuana culture we have that is becoming more permissive is built off of decades of highly illegal actions which have resulted in thousands of deaths, the ruination of countless lives and a drug-trade in which terribly sinful actions have been the norm. This cannot be separated from marijuana use any more than medical procedures developed by Nazi eugenics can be separated. The Catholic who freely accepts marijuana use is also in a certain way approving of this culture which has been the foundation of the modern drug culture. This is a reason for a great part of the scandal.

Given this, and that the precepts mentioned above bind under pain of grave sin, I find it hard to suggest that marijuana use is anything but mortally sinful in itself. Since it is the willful choosing of pleasure over our duties, with significant harm possible, especially the damage to physical health and the normal use of our rational faculties, and for no really proportionately grave reason. The intention is a high, and the effects are not merely a short term "relaxation" but last for a long time after the "high" and therefore, it really cannot be use "in moderation." Further, the culture that lies behind its use is so tainted that the scandal that will be given is always a serious evil, it is, in a great way the modern world's "mysticism" like in Eastern cults—not an encounter with God, but an escape into nirvana or dissolution of self into the mystical "god" of nothingness.

That said, hypothetically, I could see there being only light matter, like a "white" lie. A one-time or extremely occasional use with low-grade marijuana ("natural" levels of THC), with limited exposure (a few puffs), and there being no risk of scandal in obtaining or using. Practically, I don't see those conditions as often happening since most marijuana is fairly high-grade and often mixed with other substances, and is not just a one-puff incident. If one uses alone to avoid some scandal, then he will probably consume a full joint, but among a group there is risk of scandal and also usually it is not just one joint passed around so everyone has one puff, plus there is the second-hand effects. Finally, the illegality in many places adds a level of scandal and malice.

Now, that is without speaking about alcohol and tobacco, the typical go-to objections of those who favor marijuana use. Indeed both have physical and psychoactive effects and both are properly drugs, but it is apples and oranges, really.

Firstly, there is a cultural and societal acceptance of tobacco and alcohol use, meaning that there is no serious risk of scandal except in the case of inordinate use, where as marijuana does not have that acceptance. Think about Fr John Doe. If you saw him sipping a glass of whiskey and puffing away at his favorite cigar with his fellow priests, you would not be scandalized. You might want to sit down and join them for some good Catholic conversation. If he were puffing on joint and passing it to Msgr MacGillicuddy? If you would be shocked at the latter, why would you ever make the comparison between tobacco and alcohol and marijuana as if they are equivalents?

With tobacco if you look at the actual effects, marijuana is far worse. While tobacco is far more addictive and open to abuse, the damage is far worse with marijuana. The Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care in a 2012 study showed that a joint causes the damage equivalent to 5 cigarettes, also the carcinogenic agents in marijuana are more numerous and because the smoke dilates the bronchial passages more and is held for longer is far more damaging. The reason cigarettes actually cause more damage is more because of frequency, since marijuana use is not typically the equivalent of a pack-a-day habit. Five cigarettes a day is mild use for tobacco. Five joints a day is not mild marijuana use. Finally, tobacco does not produce the alteration of consciousness or behavior.

With alcohol, clearly we do see that with abuse there is serious harmful effects, but there are actual health benefits for moderate use in both ill and healthy persons. Marijuana does show some pain- and nausea-relieving effects but only for the sick, and show no beneficial medical effects for otherwise healthy people. A serving of alcohol per day, particularly wine, has been shown to help protect from heart disease, blood clots, helps normalize blood pressure, and raises HDL levels. Psychoactive effects are relatively minimal and appear only at about a 3-drink equivalent (about 24 g of alcohol) for the average person. The same Pontifical Council report shows that a joint is the equivalent of about 2 full-sized drinks of an 80-proof liquor. With moderate use, even up to about 6-7 drinks weekly, there are no negative accumulative effects in the body. That obviously has to be distinguished from abuse, since many with absolutely no problem with alcohol can easily use it in moderation without risk.

You should publish this on a blog or something.
Marijuana, hmmm...I guess it was outlawed in the U.S. after the Mexician Revolution due to the influx of those dope smokin' Mexicanos, and as usual: bad laws make good people bad - bad laws like the Probation of Alcohol, which was brought on by those pesky Eastern Europeans drunkards, IMHO, and only ended up creating a generation of A.A. going alcoholics, again IMHO.

Humboldt County California sinsemilla (seedless marijuana), also known at one time as 'one hit pot', is now commonplace, thanks to the bad laws that created the rebel-outlaw-hero dope growers who invented it. Someone somewhere said : if the amount of effort put into hybridizing marijuana would have been applied to water-melons we'd have semi-truck sized water-melons. 

If only xenophobic legislators would leave well enough alone we'd all be alot better off.
Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!
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What good comes from recreational marijuana use?
I fully admit, I am a prude when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse.  I have dealt with it in my family and I don't ever want to go thru that again.  I don't like to deal with anyone who is high - they can get themselves home.  I have been drunk, more than once, less than a dozen,  and each time I kick myself the next day, wondering, "why in the hell did I do that, again?"  What good came from it?
If you need to get high, or drink, to deal with your long day at work, then there is something wrong with the way you are doing things, something wrong with your work.
And marijuana stinks.
Is it a mortal sin?  Meaning, does it separate you from God?  Maybe, maybe not.  But does it help you become closer to God?  Does drinking or getting high help you do God's will?  Does substance use and abuse help you care for others?  God is not a prude like me, but there are questions to ask yourself first.
I'm not advocating I'm saying laws against marijuana and alcohol were enacted due to prejudice and the end results in both cases turned out poorly. Interestingly both the Mexicans and the Eastern Europeans were both Catholic peoples.
Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!
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(10-19-2018, 07:10 AM)Blind Horus Wrote: I'm not advocating I'm saying laws against marijuana and alcohol were enacted due to prejudice and the end results in both cases turned out poorly. Interestingly both the Mexicans and the Eastern Europeans were both Catholic peoples.

In the US, Prohibition was enacted because of the damage done to wives and children by drunk husbands, not ignorance of customs or prejudice.
Men would get paid on Friday or Saturday and go straight to the pub and spend most of their paycheck on alcohol and take little to nothing home to pay the rent and feed and clothe the children. The men also had a habit of beating their wives and children while they were drunk.   It was a very big problem in the US.  It was such a problem across the US that it became a Constitutional Amendment, which is a very hard thing to do - it requires that Congress pass the law, the President sign the law, then every state must vote on the law - it usually takes years to get a Constitutional Amendment passed.
How big.  I am a Baby Boomer.  My father was paid on Wednesdays specifically so that he, and the other men, would take their paycheck home on Wednesdays - they had to work on Thursday so no one could go to the bar after work Wednesdays.  My dad wasn't a drunk, very, very rarely had any alcohol, didn't do drugs and I can count on one hand the number of times my dad didn't come straight home from work.  My point is, this "drinking up the pay day" was a big problem in the US.  That is why women were leaders in the movement for Prohibition.
But you are right that Prohibition was a failure.  It was early 20th century social engineering, making a better society by force, which never works, look at today for modern examples for forced social norms.  If you want to make changes to a free society, you have to change hearts and minds.  Liberals don't want to do the work of changing hearts and minds because it takes too much time and effort so they just force crap on the rest of us and make life miserable for everyone. Or, the crap they try to force on us is truly such crap that hearts and minds will never conform so they give up trying and plan to just beat us into submission.  We are human beings, with human needs and human weaknesses.  For some of us, drinking tastes good and feels good.  Getting high feels good.  We, as individuals, have to make sound decisions for the right reasons, really think things thru.
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(10-17-2018, 08:24 AM)FultonFan Wrote: I obviously don't partake of Marijuana.  But is it a mortal sin?

To me it would seem like a big YES.  I think it's pretty clear to say that most people want to smoke Marijuana to get high.  Period. 

I believe it's a very evil substance, that opens your imagination to demonic insanity. 

As of 12:01 AM this morning, people can buy Marijuana in my province.

I believe recreational use would constitute a sin; however, medical use through health practitioners would not be, in my opinion.  All medicine is "poisonous" in some way or form.
It isn't prejudiced (in a wrong way) to enact laws to protect your culture from outsiders.
(10-22-2018, 12:02 PM)mpk1987 Wrote: It isn't prejudiced (in a wrong way) to enact laws to protect your culture from outsiders.

I was going to say bigoted instead but didnt. I see your point about protecting one's culture, but the weird, IMHO, cultural attitude of the day back then, was, well, weird.  

Take for instance Henry Ford and immigrants. Ford needed people, people who would work long boring monotonous and repetitive jobs, kind of like "they do the jobs Americans won't do" kind of guys, unhuh, so get these ignorant Slavic, Gaelic, Italian, guys to do it.  So the weird thing is, Ford had company stores & company towns, complete with the mandatory square dance Saturday night & mandatory church Sunday morning, and no drinking. 

That was protecting the culture in Ford's mind and many others of his time, also.
Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!
(10-17-2018, 09:19 AM)VoxClamantis Wrote:
(10-17-2018, 08:37 AM)FultonFan Wrote:
(10-17-2018, 08:29 AM)VoxClamantis Wrote: There is no substance that is "evil." Marijuana is a plant. It can be used or abused.

OK, better question:  can Catholics smoke it?

Depends on why, when, how much, how often, in what circumstances, its legality in a given place, etc., like most anything else. Even the dreaded heroin has medical uses, and there's no sin in, for ex., drinking wine to get mellow or cheerful as long as one doesn't risk one's ability to reason. It might be a good rule of life for most people most of the time to avoid using it, but that doesn't make use thereof, in se, a sin. In my opinion, of all the things in the world to worry about, someone's smoking a doob once in a while doesn't really rank.

Unless it's my mom, Vox. Not that she smokes pot--but if she did--well, she already says whatever comes into her mind whenever she jolly well pleases. I can only imagine her comments after smoking a joint. lol
Oh my Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything.--Fr Dolindo Ruotolo

Persevere..Eucharist, Holy Rosary, Brown Scapular, Confession. You will win.

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