Should we smoke more marijuana? Definitely not. It’s absolutely shocking that in a health-conscious nation people are smoking pot.
It’s a big shock—one that may lead to sudden death. Even though marijuana is still illegal under federal law, the strongest argument against smoking marijuana is that it may cause the acceleration or aggravation of the very disorders it is sometimes used to treat.
Smoking one joint a day can damage the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled micro-organisms and decrease the ability of the immune cells in the lungs to fight off fungi, bacteria, and tumor cells.
For patients with already weakened immune systems, this means an increase in the possibility of dangerous pulmonary infections, including pneumonia, which often proves fatal in AIDS patients. The use of marijuana as a medical therapy can and does have a very serious negative effect on patients with pre-existing immune deficits from AIDS, organ transplantation, or cancer chemotherapy.
A recent study indicates that a marijuana user’s risk of heart attack more than quadruples in the first hour after smoking marijuana. The researchers suggest that such an effect might occur from marijuana’s effects on blood pressure and heart rate and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
And there is more than that. The smoke from cannabis—the plant from which marijuana is derived—contains compounds that can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer just like tobacco smoke, according to a study from the UK. In laboratory tests, Rajinder Singh from the University of Leicester and his colleagues found certain carcinogens in cannabis smoke in amounts 50 percent greater than those found in tobacco smoke. The study suggests that cannabis use could possibly prove to be even more damaging because cannabis smokers usually inhale more deeply than cigarette smokers.
More and more data is coming in. According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke and has the potential to cause cancer of the lungs and respiratory tract. Clearly, this is contradictory to the biblical mandate to keep our bodies pure. First Corinthians 6 asks, “Do you not know that hour body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Jesus Christ paid a tremendous price for our redemption. We are not our own. That goes against contemporary thought; it is not popular to tell people that. But it is true—we are not our own. We have been purchased by the precious blood of Christ.
The pain-controlling or analgesic effect of marijuana is comparable to that of codeine, according to the DEA. However, a recent study shows that high doses can actually increase pain. There is a therapeutic window, with low doses being ineffective, medium doses resulting in pain relief, and high doses increasing pain. Researchers found a significant correlation between increasing marijuana use and drowsiness, loss of control over thought and action, and transient depression and paranoia.
Christians are supposed to have a sound mind. The Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” According to a Kaiser study, daily marijuana users have a 30 percent higher risk of injuries, presumably from accidents. A survey of 1,023 emergency room trauma patients in Baltimore found that more than 34 percent were under the influence of marijuana. A 2005 study showed people who drive after using marijuana are almost twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash.
The prophet Habakkuk warns—and I am reading a literal rendering of the text—“Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness.” That’s from chapter 2, verse 15. “Mixing venom” refers to the ancient practice of adding intoxicating herbs to wine to make its intoxicating effects more potent. Christians have a hard enough time battling temptations without assisting Satan and making his job easier by taking drugs that alter one’s judgment and diminish self-control.