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In early October of 2002, the federal government, in a throne speech, indicated that they might be moving toward decriminalization of marijuana. The Senate Committee on Drug Use recommended this recently and Parliament appears intent on following this up. The Special Commons Committee on the non-medical use of drugs has also recommended this direction by saying that more safe injection sites and free needle exchanges are needed. This was followed by a December 27 Ontario court decision where a 16-year-old boy was found innocent of possession charges when the judge said the law was invalid. This could be a precedent setting case for the whole country, as it was a federal law. This forces the federal
Government to do something about the law and opens the door for decriminalization.
This does not mean that the possession, use and trafficking of marijuana will become legal. Only those caught with a small amount of marijuana for personal use will no longer be charged with criminal offense. Rather the person will receive a fine similar to a speeding ticket. Although this may have little effect on the overall picture drug use, it is one small step towards making marijuana accepted in our society as we have seen with both alcohol and tobacco. This is unacceptable to Christians and we must do our best to lobby those in power to keep the non-medicinal use of all mind-altering drugs illegal and fight to eradicate them from society. God clearly commands in His Word that our bodies must be treated as temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19-20) and that we must be ready for His coming. This is, of course, impossible in an altered state of mind found in those using marijuana or other such drugs.
As drug use, and especially marijuana as an entertainment drug, is becoming more accepted, the societal group bit the hardest are the teenagers, the future of our society. From a recent poll in Vancouver, it was found that of 1,936 people aged 12 to 24:
• One-in-four had used ecstasy, a common rave drug. • One-in-five had tried cocaine or speed.
• Seven percent had used or experimented with heroin.
• Fifty-eight percent bad used alcohol in the last 30 days. • Forty-two percent had used marijuana in the last 30 days.
These numbers are incredible, especially when we understand the devastating results of using these drugs. Focusing in on marijuana, the following harmful facts are seen:
• It is a gateway drug (users often become tolerant to its effects and this leads them to use stronger drugs such as cocaine).
• A joint has 50% more tar than a cigarette and is often inhaled unfiltered, affecting respiration.
• A joint has 70% more benzopyrene (a cancer causing chemical) than a cigarette.
• It impairs judgment for up to 72 hours after the last joint; especially affects driving ability.
• It causes a shortened attention span, memory lapses and apathy towards work and life.
• It reduces critical thinking ability.
• It has a long-term effect because the main mind altering chemical called THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) dissolves into the body fat. This allows the THC content to build up in the body even from joints taken on successive days.
• It is very addictive indicated by strong withdrawal symptoms especially shown by heavy users.
• Linked with mood changes, violence and even suicide.
These facts, along with the poll results above, suggest that educators but especially parents must do a better job of discussing with their children the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. Many teenagers who do no use drugs attribute this to their parents’ guidance. For teenagers, parents come first as the most trusted source of information. The problem is, they are only fifth on the list as sources of information about drugs. May God give us the strength and prayers to educate our children on this issue.
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