Legal Cannabis and Morality
#11
(09-17-2019, 01:27 PM)1Faith Wrote: [...] So again, with all these different cannabis products it becomes a tricky issue morally.

This was already addressed. The only "tricky" part is the prudential application of general principles to an individual's circumstances. If one so chooses to use a product, he would be informed about what he is doing, the effects of it, and why he wants to do a particular thing. And he needs to know himself. The morality is in the act, not the product.

(09-17-2019, 01:27 PM)1Faith Wrote: 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.

I already addressed this as well. This is why I specifically say either THC or CBD when I mean one or the other.

(09-17-2019, 01:27 PM)1Faith Wrote: 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.

We should be careful to distinguish here. We simply have an absence of evidence at this point, that is, insufficient research due to the lack of time for longitudinal studies. We do not have evidence that there is no long-term impairment.

Your second sentence is certainly an exaggeration. "All counts" includes the use or misuse of a substance by individuals since we are not just talking about substances themselves but, when we discuss morality, the use or misuse of substances by rational individuals. This is a fruitless path of argumentation to go down since it is unquantifiable and mostly irrelevant to the moral arguments.

(09-17-2019, 01:27 PM)1Faith Wrote: 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.

Strawman. The bishops who have addressed the issue don't couch it in those terms. If you actually read the documents that have been released, they will refer to the medical literature, even if imperfectly, as well as give analyses along the lines of traditional virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is how the Catechism addresses the issue as well.

Typically it's not the place of "Rome" to make such an analysis. And if you really want what Pope Francis has to say, he has a consistent record of saying "no to all drugs." For what it's worth... 

But if you read the paper I had linked to, you would see that the Pontifical Council for Family ("Rome" in the relevant sense here) addressed this issue broadly in 1997, and their concerns do not hinge principally on the medical effects of these drugs but how drug use is symptomatic of larger moral and spiritual problems, although the medical effects are certainly important for one line of argumentation. Some relevant quotations to this conversation:

Quote:It is the quantity consumed, the way of absorption and eventual side-effects that are the decisive factors. [...]

Lastly, the problem of drug dependence should rightly be extended to include many substances (tranquilizers, sedatives, anti-depressants, stimulants) that are not considered "drugs", including tobacco and alcohol. In fact the problem is posed in terms different from those which are merely biochemical. [...]

It is not drugs that are in question, but the human, psychological and existential issues implicit in this kind of behaviour. All too often we do not want to understand these issues and forget that it is not the product that creates the addiction, but the person who feels the need for it. Products may differ but the basic reasons remain the same. Thus the distinction between "hard drugs" and "soft drugs" is irrelevant.

It has some other good things to say about issues surrounding legalization as well.

Given all the other problems in the Church, it's refreshing to see a document focus on the underlying spiritual problems that this entire conversation presupposes. And it echoes back to what Some Guy said earlier, which is a true Catholic spirit:


Quote: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?"
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#12
I will concede the Bishops have made a solid case for the inherent sinfulness of recreational use of intoxicating cannabis. That's generally not been controversial in my mind. Ever since I became a Christian, even back when I was a protestant, I kind of just knew deep down that smoking weed recreationally was sinful.

Where I'm really struggling morally though is when it comes to therapeutic use. I take CBD daily for anxiety and obviously there's no moral issue with that. However I also suffer from sleep problems, mainly not being able to sleep through the night, and upon waking having a hard time getting back to sleep. From my experience with cannabis, THC really does get rid of this problem. When I would smoke a couple puffs of weed before bed, I'd sleep all through the night every time. Nothing else has ever done that, and I've tried a lot. Chamomile and Valerian Root tea and Melatonin both may help me get to sleep but they don't keep me asleep. THC has been the only thing I've ever found that does. Does that kind of a use constitute a legitimate therapeutic use or not? It's very hard for me to discern that. On the one hand I don't want to fall into the trap of rationalizing an at-root recreational use, while on the other I don't want to pass on a truly effective remedy based on erroneous moral reasoning.

So for the sake of this discussion, let's grant that recreational use of high-thc cannabis is morally illicit. Where ought we draw the lines when it comes to therapeutic, and how might we make the proper distinctions?
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#13
(09-17-2019, 01:07 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: 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.

Note the common theme there: 'laws and policies', 'writing the rules', 'state sanctioned'. It's only because the government stacks the deck for them that they can do such things. I do agree that many regulations are meant to kill off small businesses, due to the cost of compliance, but that's a fault of the government. Primarily, in the US, because of FDR and his threats to stack the Supreme Court to approve his New Deal.

I'm not familiar with the laws everywhere, but I did watch something about Colorado and it said there are all sorts of businesses involved, even though they have to grow their own. It didn't seem like it was 'big' anything, just small businesses that happened to be in the marijuana industry. Maybe it's changed since then, or it's different elsewhere.

Everyone likes to hate on companies like Wal-Mart, and there's things to dislike, but there are also benefits to large companies. They're able to get their goods for cheaper from farmers and manufacturers, and then sell them cheaper than small businesses can. People complain about mom-and-pop places going away, but they shop at the big stores. Maybe the quality of items isn't quite as good, but lower prices are better for the poor.

(09-17-2019, 01:07 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: 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?

Not just the gangs, but the effects it has on the police and others. When the police get to keep (or sell) your car because you sold a bag of weed from it, and they're already underfunded, they're going to go after drug crimes much harder, and going to be much more aggressive about pulling people over who might have drugs. I'm not saying the police are always right or always wrong, but there's a reason people talk about 'driving while black'. Whether it's true or not, the perception is there, and the war on drugs is a large part of it. Then there's the huge amounts of money spent to prosecute, defend, and incarcerate people for drugs, not to mention the other crimes committed because black-market anything is more expensive.

I'm fine with people growing their own, but not everyone is going to want to - plenty of people buy their food at the store instead of growing a garden.

I don't think big business is an evil in itself. Sure, corporate executives have done evil things, and should be punished when they do. But it's a lot easier to punish a corporation than a gang. Really, how many huge corporate scandals are there, especially compared to the violence that goes on every day in places like Chicago or Mexico or Colombia because of the gangs and cartels?


(09-17-2019, 01:07 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: 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.

Legalisation probably does increase use. But I also think that most people who want to drugs already use them, and I'd rather have more people buying a pack of marijuana cigarettes at the store for $5 or $10 than fewer people breaking into people's houses and stealing their stuff to pay higher street prices. And maybe if they could legally smoke marijuana, they wouldn't move on to other drugs, especially the synthetic ones that are so much worse for you, but basically exist because they weren't illegal (yet) and marijuana was.

I don't want more users, but I also don't want to be spending billions every year to lock people up for getting high. That's money better spent by the people who earned it, or, if it has to be confiscated by the state, it could go towards other things, including assistance for the poor.

(09-17-2019, 01:07 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: 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.

If it is the Church's stance, and not merely some churchman's, or even the pope's, opinion. I'm not aware of anything else the Church has said about drugs - I'm sure Aquinas wrote about drunkenness - so while we should consider what it says, I'm a bit sceptical of anything the Vatican have come up in the past few decades.

(09-17-2019, 01:07 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: 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.

I don't think you've been harsh. I get the argument for drugs being illegal, and it's not that I want more people using them, and I have no interest in them myself. I'd probably get addicted if I ever did try them, so better to just not even start. But I do work in the courts, so I see how it affects people every day, and I pay taxes and see what they're spent on (most of the budget is for prisons), so, on the whole, I think toleration is the better option. But this is one of those areas Catholics can disagree on - even if it's a bit off-topic, since the original question was whether a Catholic can use, or invest, in places where it's legal. And at that point, whether marijuana should be legal is moot - it is - only whether it's moral. I don't see it as much different from alcohol or tobacco. I've never smoked it, so I don't know what it does, but people who have keep saying you can smoke it and not lose your reason.
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#14
(09-17-2019, 01:44 PM)Paul Wrote:
(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'.

The assessment of tolerating evils and how they might affect a particular society givens its conditions is an intellectual judgment, but any decision to act on that assessment, whether it be by an individual ruler or a representative body, IS a moral act because society is a moral unit with an authority. There is no such thing as a free, deliberate act without a moral component to it, and when an act affects a society, its morality is tied up with how it helps that society achieve its common good. 

The issue isn't whether there is a "Catholic answer" to a political problem. The "Catholic answer" will be any legitimately moral response to a political problem, and insofar as the Catholic faith has a bearing on a proper understanding of moral law, the Catholic faith implicitly has a bearing upon the political order. Just War Theory, anyone? Human dignity? Civil law? Which of these has the Catholic faith not stimulated tremendous growth and development in? 

The judgment of politicians must be guided by the moral law, and the Church has a say in the moral law. That doesn't mean every political action needs an explicit stamp of Church approval. You seem to be making a distinction that Catholic political philosophy rejects, but maybe we're talking past each other here.
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#15
(09-17-2019, 02:19 PM)1Faith Wrote: So for the sake of this discussion, let's grant that recreational use of high-thc cannabis is morally illicit. Where ought we draw the lines when it comes to therapeutic, and how might we make the proper distinctions?

That just sounds like the principle of double effect. Ingesting a substance isn't an evil act; it's even permissible to take certain hormones for a medical problem even if they have the side effect of contraception. Inability to sleep is a medical problem, and fixing it is a good thing. Lots of medications tell people not to drive after taking them; nobody says taking those is immoral. If the side effect is that you get a bit high, but you're sleeping so you're not going to be using your ability to think clearly anyway, what's the harm?
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#16
(09-17-2019, 02:19 PM)1Faith Wrote: I will concede the Bishops have made a solid case for the inherent sinfulness of recreational use of intoxicating cannabis. That's generally not been controversial in my mind. Ever since I became a Christian, even back when I was a protestant, I kind of just knew deep down that smoking weed recreationally was sinful.

Where I'm really struggling morally though is when it comes to therapeutic use. I take CBD daily for anxiety and obviously there's no moral issue with that. However I also suffer from sleep problems, mainly not being able to sleep through the night, and upon waking having a hard time getting back to sleep. From my experience with cannabis, THC really does get rid of this problem. When I would smoke a couple puffs of weed before bed, I'd sleep all through the night every time. Nothing else has ever done that, and I've tried a lot. Chamomile and Valerian Root tea and Melatonin both may help me get to sleep but they don't keep me asleep. THC has been the only thing I've ever found that does. Does that kind of a use constitute a legitimate therapeutic use or not? It's very hard for me to discern that. On the one hand I don't want to fall into the trap of rationalizing an at-root recreational use, while on the other I don't want to pass on a truly effective remedy based on erroneous moral reasoning.

So for the sake of this discussion, let's grant that recreational use of high-thc cannabis is morally illicit. Where ought we draw the lines when it comes to therapeutic, and how might we make the proper distinctions?

Does CBD help with your sleep?

I haven't kept up enough with the latest literature to know what the moral theologians are calling "therapeutic use" specifically. You may have to do some digging into the journals to find what theologians are presently saying about your concerns unless others here more informed can help.
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#17
(09-17-2019, 02:21 PM)piscis Wrote: The judgment of politicians must be guided by the moral law, and the Church has a say in the moral law. That doesn't mean every political action needs an explicit stamp of Church approval. You seem to be making a distinction that Catholic political philosophy rejects, but maybe we're talking past each other here.

Maybe we are. Decisions of rulers should be guided by the moral law, so I suppose in that sense political decisions are moral ones. But how often do we hear, 'What does the Church teach on X?', and there isn't just one answer.

(09-17-2019, 02:21 PM)piscis Wrote: The issue isn't whether there is a "Catholic answer" to a political problem. The "Catholic answer" will be any legitimately moral response to a political problem, and insofar as the Catholic faith has a bearing on a proper understanding of moral law, the Catholic faith implicitly has a bearing upon the political order. Just War Theory, anyone? Human dignity? Civil law? Which of these has the Catholic faith not stimulated tremendous growth and development in?

There's the moral principles, and then there are the prudential judgments.

Just War theory's a good example. One of the principles is a good chance of success, but which army is stronger, or has the better supplies, or generals, isn't a moral issue.

The Church also says we're supposed to take care of the environment. But is the science right? Is man destroying the earth, and we're all going to be flooded in 50 years, or are the scientists overstating the matter? Deciding who's right is a scientific, not a moral, issue. Same for the death penalty - one argument is that the criminal justice system, particularly in America, is racist. Whether it actually is or not isn't so much moral as factual.

Toleration of drugs, or any evil, is a moral issue. Maybe a better way to say it, instead of saying it's only political, is that there are multiple options which are moral, and then the political decision is choosing among them. That doesn't mean the decision is morality-free, since it involves the politician's opinion of what's best for the people.
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#18
Quote:Does CBD help with your sleep?
No, and I really wish it did. CBD gets rid of anxiety and evens me out, but it does nothing significant for sleep. I honestly don't even want to get high at all, but the sedating effects of thc are what I want, because I know from experience that that is what helps me stay asleep. Now if were to use it I would try a 1:1 thc/cbd tincture. This should provide the sedative effects (thc) while getting rid of, to a large extent, the alternation of mind (cbd). But I won't touch it if its morally illicit. I'd rather never have a good nights sleep again that commit mortal sin. Maybe its a question for my confessor, though honestly I'm not sure he'd know all these precise distinctions that need to be made.
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#19
(09-17-2019, 02:37 PM)Paul Wrote: Maybe we are. Decisions of rulers should be guided by the moral law, so I suppose in that sense political decisions are moral ones. But how often do we hear, 'What does the Church teach on X?', and there isn't just one answer.

There's the moral principles, and then there are the prudential judgments.

Ok, I see we basically agree and are just using the word moral to apply to different things here.

I guess all I would have to add to that is there can be a range of morally acceptable responses to a complex situation even if there is no explicit Church answer, which you've already said above. Nevertheless, the Church certainly should be able to have say in some situations where there may need clarification.
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#20
(09-17-2019, 02:26 PM)Paul Wrote:
(09-17-2019, 02:19 PM)1Faith Wrote: So for the sake of this discussion, let's grant that recreational use of high-thc cannabis is morally illicit. Where ought we draw the lines when it comes to therapeutic, and how might we make the proper distinctions?

That just sounds like the principle of double effect. Ingesting a substance isn't an evil act; it's even permissible to take certain hormones for a medical problem even if they have the side effect of contraception. Inability to sleep is a medical problem, and fixing it is a good thing. Lots of medications tell people not to drive after taking them; nobody says taking those is immoral. If the side effect is that you get a bit high, but you're sleeping so you're not going to be using your ability to think clearly anyway, what's the harm?


For what it's worth, I'm inclined to agree with Paul that the principle of double effect applies here, but I honestly hate giving moral advice to anyone.
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