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.
It was bound to happen. With the legalization of medical marijuana and substances made from marijuana, people are making claims about what cannabis can cure. It goes beyond simple aches and pains to include every ailment and life-threatening disease. We must beware of medical miracle cure claims.
Religious figures have promoted miracle oils from God that they claim to have special powers to cure things that the medical establishment deems hopeless. In our January 12 post, we talked about witches and the problems with the translation of biblical words. What your translation of the Bible may call witches or witchcraft were actually people who claimed to have magic, miraculous cures for every ailment possible. In Acts 8:9-11, we read about a man named Simon, who had quite a business going with this type of activity, and there are examples in the Old Testament.
It is a wonderful thing if some natural substance or diet can help a person with their ailments. There is certainly no problem with people making a business out of selling these products but beware of hyper-sensationalized claims of miracle cures.
As I write this, I have a family member who is dying of cancer.Hospice is caring for him, and he has only a few more days to live. What started as prostate cancer has gone to bone cancer and a massive brain tumor. When the bone cancer was detected, the family member was taken to a marijuana clinic where he was placed on a treatment of marijuana compounds and a strict diet endorsed by some religious leaders. This treatment went on for many weeks.
Standard medical treatment did not have a cure for the bone cancer, but it could be controlled, and the life expectancy would be for many years. My family member was told that marijuana treatment could eradicate the bone cancer. There were even a few “testimonies” given by people who claimed they had been cured. Eventually, it became evident that the cancer was growing, not shrinking, and by the time they stopped the marijuana treatment, a baseball-sized tumor had developed in the brain. Because the marijuana treatments had replaced standard medical procedures, there was nothing that could be done.
We should examine medical miracle cure claims of any kind with skepticism. We are not talking about cosmetic issues or supplements for simple aches and pains. We are talking about major issues like cancer, mental disorders, and diabetes. God warned ancient Israel about miraculous enchantments and potions, and we must heed that warning today (Galatians 5:20).
As our culture drifts farther from God, drugs become a substitute for spirituality. The drug receiving the most attention at the start of 2020 is marijuana. The compound in marijuana that causes users to get high is THC. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs does not fill the spiritual void.
The United States farm bill passed in 2018 mandated that plants containing less than .3% THC would be considered hemp. Those plants containing more than .3% would be regarded as marijuana, which remains, for the moment, an illegal, controlled substance. People now use cannabidiol (CBD) in a wide range of products, including pain medications, stress relievers, and sleep enhancers. THC is also found inadvertently in some products, and there is no way to tell the difference between THC in CBD oil and in recreational marijuana.
In random drug testing, THC may show up even if the subject only used a CBD oil. If the employer has a policy of firing anyone who tests positive for THC, that person would be dismissed. USA Today (January 21, 2020, Section B 1) carried a story about a school bus driver in Salt Lake City who was fired because she tested positive for THC. She had used CBD to help her sleep and to relieve stress.
Research may lead to some beneficial applications of THC, when used carefully and in a controlled way. The massive demand for cannabidiol products and the pressure to make recreational marijuana legal is an indication of the unhappiness and misery that people in our culture are experiencing. When we were traveling in Ireland several years ago, our guide commented on how unhappy people are there as alcohol has replaced faith in God. The same thing is happening in America today. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs is no substitute for God, but massive numbers of people have turned to these faith substitutes. A brief “high” is no substitute for lasting, faithful joyfulness.
The Bible is full of references to the desire God has for us to experience joy and happiness. The Psalms encouraged followers of God to be joyful. (See Psalms 5:11, 63:5, and 149:5-6.) In Luke 10:17, when the disciples found they had the power to help people, they “returned with joy.” In John 16:20-24, Jesus talks about finding “joy that no man can take from you.” In Romans 15:13, Paul says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Galatians 5:22 tells us that joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
People look for peace, joy, happiness, and satisfaction in all the wrong places. Seeking peace in THC, alcohol, and other drugs is not a long-term solution. The fact that I can be content, at peace, and able to find joy and beauty in spite of the massive problems I have experienced, builds my faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. No drug high of any kind gives the lasting contentment that I find in my relationship with Christ. I have looked in both places, and the evidence is clear.
The current craze on the use of marijuana has convinced many people that it is a miracle drug that will take care of all health issues. Some claim that it can not only help in cases of mental illness and dementia but that it also can cure cancer, Crone’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other common maladies. There are medical uses of components of marijuana that are promising and may be refined and used as pharmaceuticals in years ahead. What many are ignoring is negative data on marijuana.
1) Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, there has been an 8% rise in homelessness. The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice has shown that the legalization of marijuana has attracted transient people to the state.
2) The Colorado Health Department has shown a 400% increase in children younger than eight years of age who have been poisoned by high potency cannabis leading to emergency room visits.
3) Children ages 1 to 13 have been exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke in thousands of homes.
4) A study by the University of Colorado of 639 teenagers treated in 2015 in one Colorado hospital system either had cannabis in their urine or told a doctor they had used it.
5) The Highway Loss Data Institute has reported that Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have seen a 3% jump in auto collision claims since the legalization of marijuana in those states.
In the rush to promote recreational drugs, a cousin to THC has become famous. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive drug in marijuana that produces intoxicating effects on the mind. However, there are at least 113 related chemical compounds called cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. One of them is known as CBD (cannabidiol). The CBD market has been getting a lot of attention.
One reason for all of this attention to the CBD market is that small studies have shown some positive results in the treatment of epilepsy. CBD does not produce any of the intoxicating effects of THC, so promoters are selling it in a variety of substances. CBD has been used in supplements, foods, and cosmetic products. The list includes tinctures, oils, salves, coffee beans, bath bombs, beard oil, rubs, foods, candy, carbonated drinks, beer, water, and pet foods. In 2018 sales were in the hundreds of millions of dollars and are predicted to be about 20 billion dollars by 2022.
While the CBD market explodes, scientists still don’t know what effects CBD can have on the human body. Small trials are testing effects on pain, anxiety, depression and other health problems. At this time, the only FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved prescription medication involving CBD is Epidiolex, used for treating a rare form of epilepsy. The National Institutes of Health funding for research on CBD has gone from no studies in 2014 to 16 million dollars in studies in 2018.
As people make money in the CBD market, their beneficial claims cannot be substantiated. FDA regulations prohibit CBD from being sold across state lines as a food additive, dietary supplement, or for treating diseases. However, the only “enforcement” of the law is sending out warning letters. The quality of the CBD being sold is inconsistent, and sometimes it also contains THC.
The question is. “Why are people so desperate for the benefits that some are claiming CBD provides?”Christianity offers help with anxiety an depression that CBD is supposed to alleviate. If the Church functioned as God designed it, the struggles of everyday life and the support that enables one to deal with major crisis issues could be successfully addressed. Because we are not practicing Christianity as the Bible presents it, people are left looking for help and support from chemicals and philosophers. The result of that is that when people looking to get rich make claims of a new wonder drug, people jump at the chance to use it.
It is essential that we use everything God has built into the creation that will benefit our lives. As science studies CBD, it will become clear what uses it has, and what dangers it might hold. The CBD market working blindly is a recipe for disaster. What are the side effects of CBD? Is it addictive? Does the placebo effect explain the claims that some have made?
Susan Weiss of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says, “A lot of the products that people are taking may not be what they think.” Be careful what you put into your body. Don’t rush into human solutions to problems created by humans. The Church must show the love and compassion of Christ as we reach out to those who are struggling. Beware of those who make promises of help, but just want your money.