A Baptist state newspaper editor declared legalized pot a winner in the recent midterm elections in an editorial calling 2018 “a banner year for the advancement and normalization of marijuana.”
Brian Hobbs, editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger, described a “marijuana moment” –including new voter-approved recreational marijuana use in Michigan and the legalization of medical marijuana in Missouri and Utah – as “a sign of the times” for an American culture going reefer mad.
This morning the first legal marijuana shops on the East Coast opened in Massachusetts, two years after voters there decided to legalize non-medical cannabis. Cannabis is sold legally in six Western states, and other states across the nation are looking at the potential tax revenue of legalizing weed.
“The surge of marijuana legalization suggests a moral laxness, showing that people now want license over laws,” Hobbs said in a Nov. 16 editorial opposing the trend. “If marijuana is truly dangerous as we warn, then we must continue to persevere and also persuade people against it.”
During their annual meeting Nov. 12-13 in Edmond, messengers to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma passed a resolution voicing alarm “at the rapid advance of acceptance of recreational marijuana and the trafficking and abuse of other addictive drugs.”
Oklahoma voters in June passed a law allowing broad access to medical marijuana by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent. An effort to include a recreational marijuana law on the November ballot failed to secure enough valid signatures to qualify.
“We believe that every state and authority should protect its people from the trafficking of illicit drugs, and we know that the abuse of drugs leaves neighborhoods and schools vulnerable for exploitation,” said the resolution passed at the 2018 Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma meeting at First Baptist Church of Edmond. “We pray that the citizens of Oklahoma will oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana and that the church will be proactive through Christ-centered ministries to reach people who are addicted to substances.”
Green The Vote, the organization pushing for reform of Oklahoma’s marijuana laws, shot back with a statement accusing Oklahoma Baptists of “telling their own people to suffer in silence because of their own belief in Reefer Madness.”
“We here at Green The Vote agree that the sale and use of dangerous, illicit, and addictive drugs are bad for everyone, as well as the sale of any drugs on the black market,” Green The Vote leaders Chris Moe and Vicki Gaylor said on Facebook. “It’s unfortunate that an organization such as the messengers to the Baptist convention would make a statement without first doing the research on the subject. Especially knowing that many of their own parishioners overdose on opioids and abuse alcohol regularly, while even more secretly use cannabis to treat their own ailments.”
This November Missouri became the 32nd state to legalize medical marijuana when voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis for a slate of 10 medical conditions. Sales will be subject to a 4 percent state tax, expected to generate about $24 million a year.
Before vote the Missouri Baptist Convention passed a resolution opposing the measure as “the initial step” toward the future legalization of recreational pot. “The public welfare should take precedence over tax dollars,” the statement read in part.
Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana use, when voters approved 56 percent to 44 percent a proposal to permit adults 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption. Supporters see it as a potential boon for tourism, attracting stoners from nearby big cities such as Chicago and Cleveland without a recreational marijuana law.
Six in 10 Americans say the use of marijuana should be legalized, according to recent poll numbers by the Pew Research Center, up slightly over last year but double what it was in 2000.
Hobbs, who also serves as director of communications at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, urged readers not to “overact to the marijuana moment” but to “re-double our efforts on warning people — especially young people — about the spiritual and physical ramifications of these mind-altering, addictive drugs.”
“Moreover, the trends mean Christians will need to stand ready with ministries to help those who are addicted and help families who are shattered by the ugly effects and empty promises of drugs,” Hobbs wrote. “It also means that, until the societal pendulum swings back away from marijuana, Christians must contend for our convictions in the marketplace of ideas, with confidence and standing on the Word of God.”