The use of marijuana to treat chronic pain and discomfort like arthritis has been widely publicized and legalized in many states. So naturally, those of us who are older look for any way to relieve the aches and pains that come with age. Because of that, the use of cannabis by seniors has increased dramatically.
Certainly, we should use anything God has given us to relieve human discomfort as long as it is not harmful. We must understand that one of God’s injunctions is to take care of the body, which the Bible says is the dwelling place of God’s Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).
We are responsible for ensuring that what we use to relieve discomfort is good for us and doesn’t harm our bodies. That means we must use caution and listen to research about so-called miracle cures. But unfortunately, new studies of the use of cannabis by seniors have raised a red flag about its safety.
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society for January 9 reports on visits to emergency departments in California, where marijuana has been legal for any use for several years. Cannabis-related visits to emergency rooms by seniors (ages 65 and older) rose from 366 in 2005 to 12,167 in 2019.
Unfortunately, there is big money in the marijuana business, so cannabis merchants are promoting its use. However, you should use it under a doctor’s supervision. It should not be a matter of simply going to your local marijuana store and accepting all the claims they make for a “miracle cure” for whatever ails us.
One of the consequences of our culture’s rejection of God and Christian teachings is that people are looking for other ways to deal with life’s stresses. The National Institutes of Health’s annual survey shows rapidly increasing drug use in the United States.
In 2011, 29% of those ages 19 to 30 used marijuana 20 or more times in the preceding year, and 6% said they were daily users. In 2021, 43% had used marijuana 20 or more times in the past year, and 11% indicated they were daily users. In 2011, 3% said they used psychedelics such as magic mushrooms or LSD, and that number is now 8%. Data also shows a significant increase in vaping and alcoholic drinks mixed with THC.
The increasing legalization of marijuana is part of the cause for rapidly increasing drug use. In that case, these numbers should quickly grow in the next year as marijuana legalization continues to expand. This is a complex issue because we don’t know the long-term consequences of using marijuana and the chemicals derived from it.
The Christian concept of the body as the dwelling place of the Spirit of God means that Christians should take care of the body. Recreational drugs have no value for the well-being of the physical body but can have value in particular situations. Proverbs 31 states the wisdom of leaders not drinking but suggests using strong drink to help at the time of death. “Give strong drink to him who is ready to perish and wine to those that be of heavy hearts. Let them drink and forget their poverty and misery” (Proverbs 31:4-7). In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul tells Timothy not to drink the contaminated water prevalent in that day but use a little wine to avoid illnesses from the water.
James 5 encourages Christians to rely on each other and on God to handle life’s challenges. Using drugs as a social lubricant or an antidepressant will have long-term negative consequences. We are only beginning to see the collateral damage of rapidly increasing drug use in the world around us.
We live in a time of incredible advances in chemistry and medicine. However, we face the problem of chemical and medical side effects from modern drugs and food additives. Therefore, a medication designed to address one problem will often create other unexpected issues. I can give personal testimony to that.
I have blood pressure issues that are hereditary and a product of my age. For two years, doctors tried various medications to lower my blood pressure, but nothing worked. Finally, a doctor found a new drug that does work. My hypertension is under control, and I am thankful for that. This new drug, in conjunction with some previous medications, together with my new regime of exercise and eating habits, has greatly reduced my risk for a stroke.
The problem with this new medication is that it has side effects that were unknown when I started taking it. It affects my vision, balance, breathing, and sleep. When I complained to my doctor, who likes to be a comedian, he said, “Well do you want to die of a stroke or the side effects?”
We also have chemical and medical side effects from food additives and drinks. People in Christ’s day used fermented grape juice because the water was unsafe to drink. The “wine” available then had a very low percentage of alcohol, around 4%. Today, distillation processes allow the alcohol percentage to be vastly higher, and alcohol poisoning is a significant issue. Recently in Missouri, 19-year-old Daniel Santulli suffered severe brain damage after being forced to drink alcohol as part of hazing during a pledge reveal party for the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. When I was a fraternity pledge at Indiana University, my fellow pledges were forced to drink alcohol until they could no longer walk. Then they were then driven to a remote country road and dropped off.
Now the college drug of choice is marijuana. Modern marijuana has levels of THC (the drug responsible for psychoactive effects) 15% higher than in the 1970s. British studies show that these high THC levels increase the probability of addiction. We are now seeing fatal accidents caused by marijuana, as Newsweek reports that car accident rates have risen in states after legalizing marijuana sales. Science has not adequately studied the long-term side effects of marijuana.
In addition to drugs, people use food additives and supplements without scientific studies exploring their long-term side effects. God has given us plants and substances such as alcohol that we can use to alleviate human suffering. However, chemical and medical side effects are likely to increase suffering when we use them as untested recreational drugs or food additives.
The media have recently reported on several life issues from beginning to end. Here are some examples: The German Euthanasia Association has announced that those seeking euthanasia must produce proof of COVID vaccination to legally end their lives. This is apparently to protect healthcare workers.
In Poland, the government has passed a law requiring doctors to report all pregnancies and miscarriages to a government database. The apparent reason for this is to make sure that all pregnancies end with a birth. Unfortunately, Poland has a shortage of workers, and this seems to be the government’s solution to the issue.
Research has shown that women who use marijuana during pregnancy are more than twice as likely to have aggressive, hyperactive children with heart rate and immunity issues.
Babies have a fragrance that comes from an organic compound called hexadecanal. It is found in human skin but is abundant in a baby’s scalp. Research shows that females exposed to the fragrance become more aggressive and strong defenders of their babies. On the other hand, men exposed to it become more gentle and speak with softer voices. Evolutionists claim that this is an evolutionary survival mechanism. We would suggest this is part of God’s design of the human reproductive system.
Research on adopted children shows that some traits are common to adopted children that do not commonly appear in children who are not adopted. In the nine months of pregnancy, there is a “primal bonding that happens by biological design.” Those of us with adopted children can attest to some behavior issues that may be related to the adoption process.
God gave us the ideal arrangement for family–one man and one woman in love with each other produce children they love and care for. Unfortunately, that arrangement is not always possible. Understanding the stress and feelings involved can go a long way toward making adoption a good experience.
As we examine life issues from beginning to end, we know that every child needs a loving family, and every senior adult needs someone who loves them.
The dictionary defines an intoxicant as “that which produces feelings of pleasure or happiness in a person.” America is becoming a land of intoxicants. The enormous success of science and technology has given our culture a comfortable lifestyle and a sense of security. The illusion of self-sufficiency is constantly reinforced by Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and even many churches.
In the meantime, our culture is rejecting the words of Ephesians 5:15-18 despite the evidence that they are true: “Look carefully how you walk. Do not act thoughtlessly, but like sensible men. Make the most of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. You can not afford to be reckless but understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t get your stimulus from wine but let the Spirit stimulate your souls.”
America is becoming a land of intoxicants lagging behind other countries in recognizing the destructive nature of substance abuse. The American entertainment industry pushes alcohol. Even country music, which used to emphasize the negative effects of alcohol, is now saturated with promoting it as a way to pleasure and happiness. The destructive nature of alcohol is astounding. Biotech Investor’s Journal for September 2021 published a research report on the harm caused by alcohol compared to 20 other recreational drugs. Alcohol ranks # 1 in harmful effects, far beyond LSD, Meth, Crack Cocaine, and Heroin.
Some countries have recognized the serious consequences of alcohol and have passed laws to control it. For example, Scotland and Sweden have passed stringent laws to mitigate the use of alcohol. In America, the maximum blood alcohol content allowed for a motorist is 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or .08%. In Scotland, the limit is .05%, with penalties of the automatic loss of license, fines up to $7000, a criminal record, and possibly a prison sentence. In Sweden, the limit is .02%.
For some who claim to be Christians, their religious experience may be an intoxicant. The desire to find an intoxicant in Church has led to the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God will supply wealth (materialism) to His children. Other intoxicants for some religious people are emotional experiences of speaking in tongues or even out-of-the-body experiences.
The Bible’s description of successful Christian living involves recognizing that Satan controls activities on Earth (1 John 5:19). If we are looking for heaven on Earth, we are in for disappointment and pain. The Bible indicates that the influence of Satan is all around us. (See 1 Corinthians 15:33; James 1:27, 4:4; 2 Peter 1:4, 2:20; 1 John 2:15-17.)
As America is becoming a land of intoxicants, people learn that using intoxication to find pleasure and happiness doesn’t work. However, being a light in a dark world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:14-15) brings contentment and satisfaction that not only leads to a meaningful existence on the Earth but ultimately to eternal joy and happiness with our Lord.
One of the most famous authors on the world literary scene was Leo Tolstoy. He is probably best known for War and Peace but is well respected for his other novels. In 1890 Tolstoy wrote an essay titled, “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?” For Tolstoy, “stupefacients” were anything that interfered with the rigorous application of a person’s conscience, and he believed they caused most human problems. Tolstoy’s list of stupefacients included wine, beer, spirits, narcotics, and tobacco.
The Bible agrees with Tolstoy. Numerous Old Testament passages tell of trouble coming from the use of alcohol. (For example, see Genesis 9:20-24, Leviticus 10:9, Deuteronomy 29:6, and Judges 13:4-7.) The condemnation of alcohol use in passages like Proverbs 20:1 and 23:21 make it clear this is not God’s will for us to stupefy ourselves with alcohol. There is no product of humanity that has caused more misery, ill health, disruption, and violence than alcohol.
So here we are in 2021, legalizing another stupefacient. We already see the ill effects of the use of marijuana, and yet 70% of all Americans support the legalization of recreational pot. Nearly 80% of people in the 18-29 age category support it. Celebrities like Willie Nelson, Cheech and Chong, Woody Harrelson, and Bill Maher have promoted marijuana as a way to find peace in a confusing world.
People made similar claims about alcohol when prohibition was the law. The promoters of alcohol won, and the result of the legalization of alcohol brought in tax dollars. At the same time, it has cost far more in alcohol-related accidents, broken homes, and broken lives. The legalization of marijuana is also riding on the claim of increased tax dollars.
Tolstoy was a Russian writing in the late 19th century, and he was unsuccessful in turning Russia away from the use of stupefacients. The Russian Republic was destroyed and replaced with Communism with dictators like Lenin and Stalin. The question is, “Will America survive our 21st-century involvement with stupefacients?”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released studies on the correlation between marijuana use and suicide. The data drawn from 281,000 people between the ages of 18 and 31 shows a disturbing trend. About a third of severely depressed young people considered suicide between 2009 and 2019. That number rises to 50% among those who used cannabis daily.
The data from 2019 shows that 45 million Americans used cannabis, and 9.8 million were daily users. Dr. Nora Volkow, the National Institute on Drug Abuse director, says, “Consumption of marijuana increases your risk of suicidal behavior. The increase in suicides in the United States is related to more than one cause, but marijuana is obviously one of those.”
So, there is a connection between marijuana use and suicide. The Bible tells us that we are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16), and every life has a purpose. Knowing that provides a solid deterrent to suicide. As atheism and secularism increase in America and people discard biblical values, we can expect an increase in suicides. It is already happening.
We see articles in the media about the benefits of using alcohol and marijuana, but the actual data does not support those claims. Here in Michigan, marijuana was approved for recreational use in January of 2020. The state has just released data for OWI (Operating While Impaired) cases since that time. The state records show a 73% increase in “cannabinoid-involved” crashes in 2020.
Another area of concern is the increased use of alcohol. There have been reports that drinking in moderation is beneficial to the body. A study by researchers from the University of Oxford seems to dispute that. The study of 25,000 people who reported alcohol intake shows disturbing effects of any amount of alcohol. The study focused on the effect of drinking on gray matter in the brain, involving regions that process information. The study showed that the more people drank, the lower their volume of gray matter. Gray matter decreases with age and dementia but adding the effect of alcohol speeds up the process.
The conclusion of the Oxford research was there is “no safe level of drinking.” The researchers say that damage to the brain is greater than damage from having a high BMI or smoking. Of course, there are other concerns, such as the effect on the heart and lungs, but drinking is a significant factor as far as brain damage is concerned.
Distilled alcohol and marijuana are recreational drugs that were unknown in the time of the Old Testament. Distillation has given alcohol greater potency, and the production of new sources of THC for recreational use is a more modern production of drugs used to escape the problems of life.
God’s solutions to human struggles have never involved anything destructive to humans. As our culture has become more atheistic, people have looked for substitutes for spiritual help and support. The use of alcohol and marijuana has resulted in an increase in mental problems of all kinds.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified a new disease called EVALI. That is short for E-Vaping Associated Lung Injury. An apparent culprit in this problem is vitamin E acetate, a sticky oil substance often added to vaping products. This is especially common in vaping products that contain THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.
The Center for Disease Control says that 84% of the EVALI cases involve cannabis-containing products. As of February of 2020, cases of EVALI had caused 68 deaths in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Those numbers now are far more significant, and virtually all of them are in young adults. Teenagers are twice as likely to have “wheezing or whistling” in their lungs after vaping marijuana as compared to smoking cigarettes.
As followers of Jesus, 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Vaping weed is at least as bad as smoking cigarettes, and both are destructive acts that damage the body and can lead to death. As our society turns away from God and rejects the notion that our bodies are designed creations of God, young people are less concerned about taking care of them.
The consequences of rejecting God are enormous, and one consequence is the threat to our health. The COVID-19 pandemic should have made us all aware of the importance of caring for our lungs. These studies on the destructive nature of vaping have centered on young people, so the results are not due to old age.
First Corinthians 3:16 tells us of the sacred nature of our bodies. Verse 17 says, “If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” This is not some violence done to humans by God, but the natural consequence of abusing God’s creation. We cannot blame God when we fail to care for what He has given us.
It’s an avoidable “pandemic.” I put the word “pandemic” in quotes because using a drug is not a virus or bacteria. It is also not self-replicating and does not afflict innocent people. The pandemic we are talking about is cannabis hyperemesis syndrome.
As I write this article, eleven states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and 30 states have decriminalized it. One rarely publicized consequence of repeated marijuana use is recurring attacks of painful and protracted vomiting. It can continue until the esophagus rips, and the person bleeds to death. Since medical experts first identified this condition in 2004, the number of U. S. cases of hyperemesis has grown to over two million per year.
Your body stores cannabinoids in fat tissue, so weight loss, fasting, or alcohol consumption can trigger their release, resulting in hyperemesis. Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2009. Since then, visits to emergency rooms for hyperemesis have doubled. The cannabis plant contains 100 different cannabinoids, but selective breeding has contributed to the hyperemesis surge. The THC content in marijuana tripled from 1995 to 2014, but the CBD content has been cut in half. CBD is supposed to decrease pain and anxiety.
Our society has turned away from God and the joy, fulfillment, love, and security He gives us. We will not find spiritual contentment in any chemical or alternative lifestyle. The acceptance of marijuana in our culture is one more tool of Satan to bring pain and destruction. As Christians, we must oppose it and this avoidable pandemic.