Legal Cannabis and Morality
#22
One of my moral theology professors once went through a whole exposition on the topic.

His conclusion : Marijuana use is a grave sin, but might admit of certain circumstances in which it could be venially sinful.

Those conditions which might make its use a venial sin and not mortal would be things like very light use on a one-off occasion ("just a puff" not a joint).

Before anyone gets up in arms about this, this is exactly the same judgement that all moral theologians hold out concerning lies. A lie is a mortal sin, admitting of light matter, making it then only a venial sin.

But there are other grave sins which tie into marijuana use, particularly scandal.

For a Catholic to be at a place where marijuana is being used and not to leave or object suggests consent to it, and thus a scandal. To work to produce marijuana which is likely to be be used to obtain a high is a kind of scandal. To sell it when it is very likely to cause a high in the person buying is a scandal.

Then there are other things like sins against the Fifth Commandment from drugged driving. Add to this that rarely is marijuana use done without a gravely sinful context including the abuse of other things, often mixed company and sins against the 6th and 9th commandment, etc.

The drug culture itself is surrounded by more moral sins than just drug use.

The essential principle behind this is that one may not intentionally impair or lose his reason without a proportionally serious reason. So use of any psychoactive which does so will need to have said reason with it. Anesthetics for surgery, clearly a justified reason even though consciousness is lost. Morphine for severe pain, even though one's reason is often lost, justified.

Smoking marijuana because you want to relax and enjoy the high, not justified and a grave sin.

(09-17-2019, 01:52 AM)1Faith Wrote: 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?

The civil law is meant to be a reflection of the moral law and not vice versa. Civil law does not make something moral or not, but this is generally the modern Nominalist attitude : call it legal, then it is good.

Alcohol has never commonly be understood as a drug in itself, nor caffeine. These chemicals (and many others) existed in other things that were consumed for their own sake and not in order to get high, drunk or to impair reason. Alcohol in wine is a preservative. Caffeine in coffee and chocolate (and various other foods) does not exist at such levels that it caused any kind of serious "high" without serious abuse. Even cocaine was originally used as a light stimulant in South America where people would chew the leaves. Chewing the leaves will get you sick before it gets you high. Plenty of other plants were used in a similar way, such as the traditional use of kava (not the modern use) in social and communal gatherings in Polynesia.

It is only when these chemicals were concentrated or developed into forms that were easily abused that one has real problems. It is those concentrated forms or any form which is intended for a high that are considered drugs in the sense the Catechism is using them.

Only puritans or those trying to promote recreational use of drugs will make some equivalence between the bit of caffeine in my morning coffee and a caffeine pill. Only those same people would consider my having a glass of wine at dinner "drug use". There is always an agenda behind abusing language like that.

(09-17-2019, 01:52 AM)1Faith Wrote: 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?

It is not that complicated.

People smoke and consume marijuana for the high.

Legitimate medical use would involve extracting the chemicals which are beneficial and using those separately, not smoking. That should be obvious from the evidence of what smoking anything does to one's body. It makes no sense to harm the body through smoking in order to get some medical benefit which could be better had if medicinal drugs could be made from the plant.

To have some hemp rope or cloth is clearly not a problem. It's one of two licit fabrics (the other being linen) for making albs, altar cloths, corporals, palls and surplices. But, no one is going to smoke or consume hemp. They smoke or consume marijuana for the high. Hemp in its natural state does not contain enough psychoactives to have any real effect. Hemp is high in CBD but low in THC (about 0.3%). It was only by breeding that THC levels were increased, and why? For the high.

The common thread is that marijuana use is about the high, not about medicinal usage.

Hemp usage and production is where one can obtain the better CBD levels (which is where one finds some medically-beneficial effects), and also fibers (one of its original uses) as well as seeds for food use. All of that is not only legitimate but good.

In short, all of the beneficial medical and practical effects from Cannabis sativa, can be had from non psychoactive varieties. Marijuana use is about the high.

(09-17-2019, 01:52 AM)1Faith Wrote: 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?

It it well to recall the principles above. One may not lose or impair his reason without proportionate justification.

Recalling this, I would say that marijuana itself cannot be used "therapeutically". Some of the products of it might be used as good medicine, but then would be prepared as medicine, not smoked. There are CBD and THC preparations available by prescription which have essentially the same effect on chemo side effects as smoking marijuana without the side effects of the marijuana itself, and often without the high, since the relative levels of CBD and THC could be controlled. It seems a high CBD level compared with THC can reduce the high. As above this further shows the whole "medical marijuana" canard was about legalizing recreational use, not about medicine. If it were, pharmeceutical preparations would be made and "pot shops" wouldn't be opening.

Medical use of the preparations would be licit for a proportional reason. Given that CBD is not psychoactive, and does not induce the high, there is no moral issue with its medical use by self-referral. One cannot lose his reason by using CBD.

Medicines which have a psychoactive effect are rightly and tightly regulated. So any preparation with THC would need to be prescribed just like other scheduled drugs.

(09-17-2019, 01:52 AM)1Faith Wrote: 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?

Short answer, no.

The industry is about marijuana use, and as established above marijuana use is about the high. The industry is inseparable from this end, and so to work or invest in this industry is a grave sin.

To invest in, own or work in a marijuana shop would be a grave sin of scandal.

To work at a hemp farm, or to invest in industrial hemp is different, since there is no direct connection to supporting the marijuana industry.

To work in medical research, provided the research was moral in itself, would be generally okay.

(09-17-2019, 01:52 AM)1Faith Wrote: 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?

It's not very complex unless one ignore principles and tries to do morality by feeling. The principles is clear and enunciated above.

To answer to your question, if you want to know if your personal actions are sins, it's best to speak with a good solid orthodox Catholic priest. It's not a good idea to come onto a forum and ask opinions to gauge your moral actions by this. No matter what the majority of people say, this does not make something any more right or wrong.

All you need to do to answer your own question is look at the principles above. If that's not clear, speak to a good priest.
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Messages In This Thread
Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 01:52 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Some Guy - 09-17-2019, 06:25 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Paul - 09-17-2019, 10:49 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Paul - 09-17-2019, 02:21 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-17-2019, 12:14 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-17-2019, 01:22 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Paul - 09-17-2019, 01:44 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-17-2019, 02:21 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Paul - 09-17-2019, 02:37 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-17-2019, 02:58 PM
Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 01:27 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-17-2019, 02:09 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 02:19 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Paul - 09-17-2019, 02:26 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-17-2019, 03:00 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-17-2019, 02:30 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 02:38 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by MagisterMusicae - 09-17-2019, 05:47 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 06:26 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by VoxClamantis - 09-18-2019, 03:36 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Augustinian - 09-17-2019, 06:37 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 06:42 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Augustinian - 09-17-2019, 06:47 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 06:54 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Augustinian - 09-17-2019, 06:59 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 07:06 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-17-2019, 07:27 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Paul - 09-17-2019, 11:19 PM
Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 07:33 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 09-17-2019, 10:09 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Augustinian - 09-17-2019, 11:14 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Blind Horus - 09-18-2019, 12:40 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by VoxClamantis - 09-18-2019, 04:54 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Melkite - 09-20-2019, 09:51 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-21-2019, 11:14 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Blind Horus - 09-20-2019, 03:35 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by piscis - 09-26-2019, 10:14 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Florus - 09-26-2019, 06:55 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by BigSamoz - 11-03-2020, 12:48 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Ioannes_L - 11-03-2020, 02:16 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Dancing Lion - 11-18-2020, 03:46 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Some Guy - 11-20-2020, 11:23 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by LionHippo - 11-20-2020, 09:26 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Blind Horus - 11-20-2020, 11:26 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by FultonFan - 11-21-2020, 11:49 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 11-23-2020, 10:33 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Harryman9090 - 12-08-2020, 03:33 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Melkite - 12-09-2020, 10:33 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Pandora - 12-09-2020, 12:31 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Melkite - 12-09-2020, 01:03 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by FultonFan - 12-09-2020, 06:53 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by IudicaMe - 03-25-2021, 11:22 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Marmot - 03-25-2021, 11:58 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Marmot - 03-25-2021, 12:59 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 03-25-2021, 11:59 AM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by AlanK82 - 03-25-2021, 01:19 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by AlanK82 - 03-25-2021, 01:16 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by IudicaMe - 03-25-2021, 01:19 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Marmot - 03-25-2021, 05:05 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by J Michael - 03-25-2021, 08:28 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by AlanK82 - 03-25-2021, 01:49 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by IudicaMe - 03-25-2021, 01:57 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by AlanK82 - 03-25-2021, 02:17 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Melkite - 03-25-2021, 02:33 PM
Legal Cannabis and Morality - by 1Faith - 03-25-2021, 02:21 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by AlanK82 - 03-25-2021, 04:35 PM
RE: Legal Cannabis and Morality - by Blind Horus - 03-25-2021, 05:12 PM



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