Sunday, December 13, 2009

Marijuana and the Word of Wisdom

Here's a hypothetical that I was thinking about when driving to work last work. Right now, smoking marijuana is against the Word of Wisdom. However, in states like California, using and selling marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes when prescribed by a doctor. If a member lives in California and is prescribed medical marijuana, or the federal government legalizes it in the future under similar circumstances, would that member be violating the Word of Wisdom?

If you think it would be ok, it seems funny that the government becomes a de facto interpreter of the Word of Wisdom. I'm not really sure what to make of that.


Michael said...

Welcome to the brave new world of increasing moral ambiguity.

Interesting that the Brethren continue to emphasize personal revelation, more so this past conference than I can remember previously.

ScW said...

I happen to know a woman in the Bay area who does exactly that- smokes medical marijuana, with her bishop's and Stake President's blessing.

james said...

And while I'm counting down the days...

The Word of Wisdom indicates that all good herbs have an appropriate use. Do not poppy and coca plant have good uses too? Why wouldn't marijuana also have a good use- possibly as it is now prescribed? If it were legalized for regular use, the Church's proscription on other legal items such as tobacco, alcohol or coffee (but not in ice cream form) would probably void that argument that it is now de facto kosher. And as a side note, it was not okay for mormons to enjoy a doobie before the govt banned it.

Skyler said...

As the adult Gospel Doctrine instructor, I had the opportunity to teach the Word of Wisdom lesson a few months back. During the lesson, the part about what we shouldn't consume, it had me mention this: "Explain that in addition to these substances, we should not a) Use any substance that contains illegal drugs, b) Use any other habit-forming substances except under the care of a competent physician c) Misuse prescription and other drugs." I found the qualifiers interesting: illegal, except under the care of a competent physician, misuse of prescription and other drugs. I decided at this time to bring up marijuana used for medicinal purposes in states like California. I gave my opinion that I believe it wouldn't be long before the medicinal use of marijuana was legal in most of the U.S. and eventually Utah, and that I felt the Latter-day Saints need to have this discussion. There wasn't much by way of response, so I moved on. (Nobody objected.)

Based on what the lesson said, I find nothing wrong with using medicinal marijuana as a Latter-day Saint, in places where it's legal to do so. I think the above would agree with me.

bwebster said...

Recognize that many medications (including OTC remedies such as Nyquil and Nyquil-imitations) contain alcohol, just as other prescription-only medications contain powerful narcotics (such as codeine) that would be considered 'against' the WofW. And, of course, some areas of the Church continued to use wine in the sacrament into the early 20th century.

Contra Michael, this has nothing to do with 'moral ambiguity' (which itself is anything but new). It has to do with the circumstances and intent of use. If I'm guzzling Nyquil to get drunk, that's something quite different from taking the recommended dose to get me through the night.

I daresay the same thing applies to medicinal marijuana. ..bruce..

Jeremy said...

I'm not sure I see how the government becomes an interpreter of the WofW if they legalize marijuana. For example, strong drinks are prohibited by the WofW, but certainly constitute a legal beverage in the U.S. Regarding marijuana in any form, the Church probably wouldn't make any statement if the govt legalizes it, since it is nonetheless a substance interpreted to be contrary to the law.

In my opinion, 99% of all WofW questions could be answered by remembering the following counsel:

"Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created" (D&C 29:34).

The WofW is a spiritual law - not a temporal loaw - and those that try to pinpoint or rationalize the substance that makes something prohibited is entirely missing the point. The law is a test of our faith. It is quite similar to a Mosaic law that is quite simple to follow. Those who go contrary to it or rationalize their substance use are failing at one of the easy commands and probably cannot be expected to keep the higher laws.

Thought provoking post.

Evgenii said...


If we look at the government legalizing marijuana by itself legal, then I think you have a point. However, when the government will only legalize marijuana legal for medicinal purposes, it does seem to be an interpreter of the Word of Wisdom. As the example given by others shows, we can use certain narcotics if prescribed by a doctor. I would argue that under no circumstances could an LDS use marijuana without violating the WoW, unless prescribed by a doctor. As only the government can decide what drugs doctors can prescribe, in a sense it is interpreting the WoW for us. I am not sure if I am making sense.

Jeremy said...

No, that makes sense. I was looking at it through a different lens.

Good point.

Michael said...

"As only the government can decide what drugs doctors can prescribe, in a sense it is interpreting the WoW for us. I am not sure if I am making sense."

Only the government? Wow.

Anonymous said...

I know someone who drinks coffee occasionally for migraines -- with her bishop's okay, I might add.

Anonymous said...

How does coffee help a migraine? I thought caffeine made them worse...

...and if it doesn't, well there are plenty of OTC drugs with caffeine in them.

Nate said...

Interesting thought...

The funny thing is that if medical marijuana is okay to use for pain relief in CA, and that does not violate the WoW, what about where countries have legalized marijuana but the doctors don't prescribe it as a matter of course (preferring stronger narcotic-based drugs). Would it be okay in those countries if an LDS person lit up on their own?

You have a funny point that the gov't becomes an arbiter...even worse, is it more narrow in that it is the U.S. gov't that is the arbiter?

djinn said...

Jeremy Cocaine is widely used in nasal surgery. NO ONe thinks that getting surgery to their nose is a violation of the word of wisdom.

Why shouldn't this be any different? Because, you see, it isn't.

Jeremy said...

I agree with you, djinn. I think the WoW is a simple law to follow when you understand the spiritual nature of it.

In my opinion, the WoW paralles Christ's admonition that the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. The flesh is weak because it is susceptible to the draw of addiction. I believe the WoW may extend outside the realm of dietary restrictions as laid out therein, and attempts to teach us moderation in ALL things. This includes not only addictive substances that we ingest, but also an unhealthy addiction to things like TV, video games, sports, etc.

I personally do not think temporarily taking medical marijuana or prescribed cocaine is contrary to the WoW. However, if the patient ultimately becomes dependent to these substances, then it is no different than misusing a pain killer and should be stopped.

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Anonymous said...

To concede that the human central nervous system has cannibinoid receptors (which it does) and that marijuana contains a component (delta-9 THC) that binds thereto but to yet patently hold that marijuana has no medicinal use is tantamount to submitting one of two ideas: 1) that God is not omniscient, or 2) that God is capable of committing an oversight.

The God in which we believe is both omniscient and incapable of committing an oversight. Therefore it is not possible that there is no proper use of marijuana.

Anonymous said...

I am LDS - and have been prescribed marijuana related to anxiety and bipolar. I believe there is a purpose for all of the elements. I do believe any substance that by its very structure has addictive properties - these would qualify as being against the Word of Wisdom - regardless of legal status. Research continues on psilocybin and the range of phenylethylamines and tryptamines - check out the Johns Hopkins and University of Arizona studies. There is potential for O-Acetylpsilocin / 4-ACO-DMT / synthetic psilocybin for curing OCD, ADD, addictions, and potentially bipolar and other mental / emotional disorders. I believe these non-addictive elements are tools for understanding the mind - are medicine for healing trauma and disorders - and have been used throughout the history of man by prophets and leaders of various religions (Zoroaster, Taoism, Siikism, Hindu, etc.) I'm convinced There is definitely a relationship between marijuana and psilocybin / peyote or other phenylethylamine / tryptamine based entheogens - and that the receptors in our body and mind and these tools were not created out of accident or mistake. To suggest so or to impose humanities ignorances on God - would be blasphemy. We need to replace fear based prohibition laws and the drug war with education and objective understanding of the correct uses and benefits and dangers associated with all of God's gifts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all so much for discussing this.

I am in my 40's, mother of 3 wonderful children and blessed with a husband who is a true man of God.

When I use marijuana, I have actually received some spiritual thoughts that have led me to the Word of God/Iron Rod/Scriptures and during the study and meditation/pondering, I then received additional manifestations.

Some could say, "well, of course you were high!" But that isn't the case I feel and I think it is because, my intentions when using marijuana have always been to get in touch with our Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit in Christ name. And I only use it when I feel prompted to search truth. Very moderate use, in fact, I go months sometimes.

I would love if you could pray on my comment and respond as a brother or sister would to help a sister.

Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

"Use any other habit-forming substances except under the care of a competent physician."

The key qualifier there is "competent" - and how do we know? I know doctors that will prescribe you anything you want. And this isn't necessarily obvious, either.

So, who can we trust? It seems that God and His revelations to us on a personal level are one of the only things you can trust nowadays, with a few exceptions (i.e. revelations from our church leaders). And many of their pronouncements are abstract because we are supposed to rely on personal revelation.

Personally, I can attest to the fact that when under the influence of cannabis, one can have revelations that are extremely powerful. I have no qualms saying that I've made positive, in-line-with-gospel-teachings changes in my life after having had experiences with so-called "mind-altering" substances that are completely natural. Does that mean I should use them all the time? As Paul would say, "God forbid!" But to ignore that they can provide such a benefit would be to deny the obvious.

Sadly, too many people are sold on the propaganda espoused for nearly 100 years about the so-called "dangers" of cannabis. If you do enough research and _then_ ponder it, I have a hard time imagining you will come to the same conclusions about it you had when you began.

Read, ponder and pray about the inclusion of this extremely-brief passage in Alma 46:40:

"And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate..."

Is it possible that cannabis (marijuana/pot/weed) is one of the "many plants and roots which God had prepared?" I submit that it is the case.

"In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days," (D&C 89:4) consider the fact that "Big Pharma" has a vested interest in keeping you away from such natural (read: God-given) solutions, because they can't make much money on "plants and roots" since they can't patent them. The pharmaceutical industry has deeper pockets than many realize, and members of Congress are, unfortunately, cheap and prone to evils, designs and conspiring.

Put that in your figurative pipe and smoke it.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see some official church doctrine or where the Word of Wisdom has been actually updated to include specify that the natural herb Marijuana in particular is forbidden for members of the LDS church.

Anonymous said...

This is not an issue for the church. This is an issue between an individual and God and their doctors if they choose.

Genesis 1:29 "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."

D&C 89:11 "Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving."

Lyndsey said...

I'm coming into this a little late... but I've been doing research as of late and came across this discussion. I am a convert and before joining the church I smoked marijuana frequently.

I am wondering, anonymous mother of 3 (if you see this a year later) how you feel about the legality issue. I do not believe the WoW restricts use of weed but it is illegal and we are told clearly in the Articles of Faith to follow that lands laws. Also, do your children know? Would you be ok with your kids smoking?

I am currently thinking of smoking myself but the AoF guidance to follow the laws is a hinderance and my husband is concerned with our children knowing I smoke. He is afraid they will become "potheads" themselves at my influence.

Just wondering...

Trouble said...

Not meant to be smoked. Genesis 1:29 says meat, not smoke. Tinctures, food, etc can be used. Our God is greater than all of the doctors, governments, and laws of man. Pray for personal revelation and yet shall find answers. God bless.

Anonymous said...

...if satan is always trying to steal god's glory... i find it odd to take a natural substance, then through means of synthesis try to make something "better" than what was already there naturally, then call it science making our lives better. pharmaceuticals have always seemed rather contrary to the natural order for me at least. i'm not a smoker anymore but still trust a plant way before anything else MAN has created in a lab...
But as for WoW, as long as your not smoking to deal with life (see addictions)then I really don't see the problem, just my 2 cents...anon in slc

William Wilson said...

I read up and saw what the guy said about marijuana receptors in our brain and totally agree with him. Along with that note. We have many medications that are inhaled in order to be absorbed. The only difference between those and inhaling marijuana smoke is that it is on fire and by consequence produces carbon dioxide which in large amounts is not good for you. I believe it has medicinal purposes. Going a long with the moderation thing. If it was perfectly legal for recreational use, I wouldn't see anything wrong with smoking it here and there in moderation to relax ect. You can say I'm deceived but no where in the word of wisdom says anything about marijuana except that as of right now it's an illegal drug and by all means you should follow the law. But if it was legal, I wouldn't see anything wrong with having some every once and a while just like if you had a tylenol every once and a while. Especially in seeing the reasons why it is illegal at the moment. (Do some research if you want to know exactly why it's illegal.) There is a lot of propoganda about marijuana which isn't true. And just a note: This is not coming from a guy who uses marijuana. I'm just interested in the subject. I can admit I used it occasionally in the past when I was young. But it has been years since then. Anyways those are just my opinions on it.

Anonymous said...

Cancer tumors will not grow inside your body with marijuana in your system. Fact!
Also provides every physical and mental ailment. Antianxiety, antinausea, anti inflammitory, anti depressant, anti epileptic, anti-convulsive, anti-schizophrenic, pain reliever, eye pressure reducer, sleep aid.
This is a gift from god. Because it can't be controlled (anyone can grow it) it was forced out for capitalistic gain from other industries. Still today they still want to give you twenty different pills of chemical dependancies that THEY control. And have you noticed all the side effects and the ads endorsing are always followed by next year attorney settlement commercialls for the same drug? I can see demons in every drug, alcohol, chemical prescriptions, everything. Mother earth stays in your system because it organically adaptive to your body.
My outward demeanor is in every perspective I want it to be. I have positive thoughts, positive thinking, Iam a better person to myself and my family around me. I feel his love and feelings and make the right desisions and a positive lifestyle.
I was raised inthe chuch and do all things in life that my heart knows isn't wrong. This is a big subject that is heavily discussed and brought at my families dinner table which breaks my heart my parents can't see. I am prescribed medical for anxiety and drepression. I pray we all are able to receive this blessing in every home.

Lds raised now medically living in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains

Darren said...

I guess my perspective is that nobody bats an eye if members are prescribed Vicodin, codeine, or Lortab for pain following a procedure or an accident. Those are opiate based narcotics which one can take while being temple worthy if it was prescribed by a doctor and used as directed. Why would people have a problem with prescribed marijuana that is much less addictive and harmful to the body? I am a member and smoked during high school. I shaped up and served a mission and am now very active in my ward and hold a recommend for the temple. I can see the errors of my ways in the past and would never support recreational use of marijuana as I wouldn't support recreational use of prescription drugs, but if it is used under the direction of a doctor and used for a specific medical condition, why is that any different from the many drugs Americans/Mormons already take on a daily basis? That just seems terribly hypocritical. said...


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