Catechism teaches marijuana use should be avoided, says moral theologian

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DETROIT (CNS) – In Michigan, signs are everywhere.

Driving down Interstate 94 in both directions, drivers are faced with a plethora of billboards advertising specialty cannabis, delivery services for a variety called Kush, “1-800-get your medical marijuana card here “. It’s hard not to notice.

Michigan legalized medical marijuana in 2008, and 10 years later, Proposition 1 was passed, allowing the legalization of the sale of marijuana starting in 2019. At the time, Michigan was the 10th state. to adopt such a law; today, 19 states allow recreational use, along with Guam and the District of Columbia.

In a recent study by the Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing, commissioned by the Michigan Cannabis Manufacturers Association, the state had a cannabis market of nearly $ 3.2 billion in 2020, comprising both a recreational and medical use.

For all intents and purposes, the marijuana industry is booming in Michigan and its prevalence is almost impossible to ignore.

So where does the Catholic Church stand on this increasingly polarizing subject, and how should the 1.3 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Detroit respond when asked if medical and recreational marijuana is morally right? and ethically admissible?

Although marijuana is not explicitly mentioned by name, Jesuit Father Peter Ryan, professor of moral theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, said the Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the subject as part of his treatment. respect for life and health.

A person’s physical health is a gift to be cared for for the good of the person and for the good of others, said Father Ryan.

“We have to respect the life of the body, and at the same time, we have to avoid excesses over various things, including food, alcohol, tobacco or medicine,” he said.

Specifically, paragraph 2291 of the Catechism deals with the use of drugs outside of a therapeutic setting, said Father Ryan.

“He says the use of drugs inflicts very serious damage to human health and life – it means the use of it when it is not justified,” the priest told Detroit Catholic, the online media of the archdiocese.

“Their use, except for strictly therapeutic purposes, is a serious offense, (as it stands) the clandestine production and trafficking of drugs or scandalous practices,” he said. “And so, they should obviously be avoided.”

Father Ryan said this paragraph extends to any psychoactive substance, which can include the milder, such as coffee, tea, and aspirin, to the more serious, such as LSD, heroin, and cocaine.

While some of these substances can be used within reasonable limits – Father Ryan was careful to point out that not all of them can be used sensibly – use is often a matter of context and purpose, especially if it is. used to promote health.

“Even when you are rightly using them to promote health, you must be very concerned about the side effects,” said Father Ryan. “Any simply emotionally motivated choice to use a substance, including cannabis, is abuse. “

In other words, said Father Ryan, if a person does it without any prominence and is simply seeking the altered state of consciousness as an end in itself, then that in itself is unreasonable use.

However, if it is used reasonably for medical purposes, it may be permitted in some cases, although Father Ryan expressed doubts as to whether medical welfare was the real alleged reason for Michigan’s legalization.

Marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance, which is defined as a substance with a high potential for abuse, no currently widely accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and an accepted lack of safety for use under medical supervision. .

In June 2014, Pope Francis told an audience at the 31st International Conference on Combating Drugs that illicit drug use is an evil where there can be “no surrender or compromise”.

“Thinking that the damage can be reduced by allowing drug addicts to use narcotics does nothing to solve the problem,” Pope Francis said at the time. “Attempts, however small, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative point of view, but they fail to produce the desired effects.

“Substitution drugs are not an adequate therapy but rather a veiled way to surrender to the phenomenon,” said the Pope. “No to all types of drug use. It’s that simple. … But to say this ‘no’, you have to say ‘yes’ to life, ‘yes’ to love, ‘yes’ to others, ‘yes’ to education, ‘yes’ to greater opportunities for ‘use.

“If we say ‘yes’ to all of these things, there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction.”

When Michigan’s ballot proposal was before voters, the Michigan Catholic Conference – backed by bishops from the state’s seven dioceses – called for a “no” vote, citing negative consequences for emotional well-being and physical in other states, especially in adolescents.

Is Prescribing Marijuana for Medical Purposes Ethically and Morally Permissible?

For Dr William Chavey, a Catholic physician practicing in Southeast Michigan, the medicinal use of marijuana has not been proven to the point where he believes it can be morally justified and ethically prescribed. .

“We need to better understand the risks and benefits of medical marijuana before we can determine whether it is ethically permissible,” Chavey told Detroit Catholic.

“There are a lot of supposed benefits of marijuana in terms of things like anxiety and well-being and things like that,” he said, adding that “the literature is mixed.… For the Most, I would say marijuana is more recreational than medicinal.

Given the lack of research and church teachings on the use of drugs and other mind-altering substances, Father Ryan said Catholics should avoid ingesting marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

“You have to be asking yourself, all things considered, ‘What is the most likely thing to help me with my health and to help me with the health issue I am facing?’” Said Father Ryan. “I think it will be difficult to say that the thing most likely to help me is marijuana.

“If you really come to this conclusion after you really weigh the problem, and you rule out the emotional motivations and just try to solve the problem as best you can, and you have no other way to go. the right ending you’re looking for, then that might be OK, ”he said. “However, I am skeptical that anyone is likely to come to this conclusion.”

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Patti is a reporter for the Detroit Catholic team, the Archdiocese of Detroit’s online media.


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