I am writing this article three years after the legalization of weed in Canada in 2018 by the Liberal Government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It was hailed by Trudeau at the time to be one that would make “a real difference” in the lives of Canadians who were impacted by an old regime that made marijuana illegal. When weed was legalized in Canada on October 2018, churches were silent. There were no protests. There were no placard holding Christians. Instead, the longest lines were formed in front of newly opened cannabis stores.
As I watched a WWJD bracelet dangling at a nearby Christian retail store, I wondered what Jesus would have said to our society in this regard. We don’t have to be Jonah-like prophets of doom to recognize the difficulty the legalization of weed would introduce to our society. Physicians who dared to come forward to say that marijuana is a “gateway drug” have been largely silenced by the threat of career suicide. The police report figures of increase in impaired driving in the order 25% due to driving while on weed, but the numbers do not make their way into the news feeds. And as the cannabis industry generates an income stream that includes employment and taxes, even the church has set aside moral and biblical objections and consigned them to a “past issue”.
My mind inevitably takes me to the gospels when Jesus walked the dusty streets of ancient Palestine. Everywhere He went, He encountered demonic activity that had imprisoned people for long periods of time. At the beginning of His ministry in Galilee, the Gospel of Mark records that He went into the synagogue in the populous town of Capernaum and encountered a man with an unclean spirit. Here is a curious observation: Lepers were put out of the city; demon possessed people were in their synagogues. Demonic activity had become so commonplace that they became part of the local landscape. Some profited from these demons because of their power of clairvoyance. Some kept them out of the towns in the tombstones because they were violent and scary. Others came home to them as sons and daughters suffering from seizures, dumbness, incoherence and other such problems. But no one did anything about it.
When Jesus came amongst us, He declared that darkness has no place when the Light of the World came. He informed us that we are to be salt reversing the corruption of a world too used to corruption. And He declared that His followers do not fight because the Kingdom of Jesus is not about violence, but that His followers walk according to His clarion call to make a difference in this world through the healing that they bring, and the gospel that they live and speak. He empowered those saved by His power to stand in the courage of the Spirit as people who serve His purpose in a world whose laws contravene the things of God.
The other day, I was walking with some friends in the streets of downtown Toronto. A large crowd came in the opposite direction chanting against mask-wearing, vaccination and vaccine passports. I thought, “Thank you, Lord, for a free society that entertains different viewpoints.” Then I saw at the head of the crowd a person bearing a cross with an image of Jesus still crucified on it. And my stomach turned. You see, it doesn’t matter if the crowd were for or against COVID-19 policies. Jesus would not have walked in that crowd let alone lead it. If the church did nothing when weed that would take away people’s senses, make young people vulnerable to addiction, depression, anxiety and a slue of other medical issues, and increase social ills related to drug induced driving and living in community, what is the church doing pounding the pavement about masks and vaccines?
May God give us wisdom and the clarity of mind to navigate in a world such as this. May we speak boldly to our young and old about the ills of weed. May we speak spiritually by the votes that we make for the most morally driven governments, and may we be the agents of healing to those lured and now trapped in the wiles of weed.
Let’s be salt and light. Let’s be the people of Jesus in our present world.