Rev. Mark H. Creech
The Constitution and the legalization of marijuana
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By Rev. Mark H. Creech
September 28, 2019


Only just a few days ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure which protects banks that want to work with legal marijuana businesses. The legislation would also ensure that cannabis businesses may access financial services such as opening accounts, making loans, accepting credit cards and depositing money – something they haven't been able to do previously because the federal government still considers marijuana use illegal.

With the legal marijuana industry growing, the pressure for legalization on both the state and federal levels is mounting. In fact, according to State of the Legal Cannabis Markets report, Arcview and BDS claim that medical marijuana is expected to be legal in all states by 2024, and recreational marijuana legal in 20 states by the same year.

It would seem that if something should truly be a part of our American way of life, it would be because of certain inalienable rights. In the preamble of our representative republic is found the basis for justly examining whether the business of marijuana is consistent with the American way. In fact, herein are six points that form the sound basis for examining whether anything is at cross purposes with American objectives.

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.

The first of these six points is the formation of a more perfect union. So let's ask the marijuana industry: Does pot contribute to the formation of a more perfect union?

It's doubtful most Americans would agree that leadership would be enhanced if public officials and their staff were given greater opportunity for toking. Imagine deciding critical matters regarding Medicaid, tax reform, sick leave, education funding, voting, the minimum wage, environmental regulations, road funding, guns, and national defense, with marijuana-impaired minds.

Moreover, marijuana proponents have been saying that legalizing cannabis would mitigate ethnic and racial disparities in law enforcement.

It hasn't turned out that way for Colorado. Since legalization in that state, the average number of annual Hispanic arrests for marijuana in Denver increased by 98%, and the average number of arrests for African Americans has increased by 100.3%.

Marijuana legalization's impact on making a more united people hasn't made matters better for places like Denver, but only worse. This has proven to be the case in other areas such as Washington, D.C., too.

The second point is to establish justice. Does pot contribute to the establishment of justice?

Researchers have established that long-term use of cannabis dulls the brain's ability to recognize the need for action, properly acquire and assess information for problem-solving, identify the potential choices, calculate the pros and cons, select a plan of attack, act, and then reflect on the outcome later. Therefore, it's reasonable to assume that cannabis use, which negatively impacts good judgment, would fail to contribute to the establishment of justice.

We already know that marijuana contributes to problems like teens entering substance abuse treatment centers, high school dropouts, crime, ER visits, traffic accidents and fatalities, neurological pathology in youth, and losses in worker productivity. It's safe to presume that with the legalization of marijuana nationally, all of these problems would increase. Where is the justice in exacerbating these current injustices?

The third point is to ensure domestic tranquility. Does pot contribute to ensuring domestic peace and composure?

While some users of marijuana tout its ability to relieve stress and make one feel more peaceful, others say it had a rebound effect on them with increased anxiety after using it. Some long-term users report difficulty in dealing with the normal stresses of day-to-day life. Several reputable studies have also linked marijuana use to an increased risk for psychiatric disorders, including psychosis (schizophrenia) and depression.

Presently, a connection has been made with the legalization of marijuana and increases in violent crime. Jason C. Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund notes:

"A review of crime statistics cast doubt on proponents' claim that legalization [of marijuana] reduces violent crime; to the contrary, homicides have generally increased in pro-marijuana jurisdictions. In Denver, the homicide rate has steadily climbed from 36 in 2013 to a peak of 67 in 2018. Seattle had 19 homicides in 2013, then the rate increased every year except 2016, reaching a peak in 2018 of 31 cases. Even the District of Columbia has experienced a resurgence of violence – reaching 160 homicides in 2018 after seeing a historically low 116 homicide cases in 2017."

Investigative journalist Alex Berenson, who recently authored the book Tell Your Children: The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence, contends that, using the most prominent possible data set, he was able to conclude that since the legalization of pot in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, violent crimes have increased faster than the national average in these states, even when accounting for population changes.

The fourth point is to provide for the common defense. Does pot contribute to the common defense?

For our nation's military, there is absolutely no confusion about marijuana use by its soldiers. It is strictly forbidden, even in a state where it's legal. A member of the Armed Services caught with marijuana in his/her bloodstream from eating marijuana brownies, smoking cannabis, or hanging out with friends who are using, can get discharged. The military is very serious about it.

Back during the Vietnam era, the Pentagon was unnerved by the scale of drug use among the troops. One study in 1973 interviewed returning soldiers and found nearly 70 percent smoked marijuana.

In 1981, it was discovered that six of the sailors who were involved in a crash aboard the aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz had been using marijuana. Fourteen sailors lost their lives in that crash, which led the Department of Defense to institute a zero-tolerance policy that still stands today.

The fifth point is to promote the general welfare. Does pot promote the general welfare?

It would seem that if the pot industry were promoting the general welfare of our nation, it would contribute to public safety.

SAM: Smart Approaches to Marijuana summarizes its research in Lessons Learned From State Marijuana Legalization:

"Although the full picture resulting from legalization will not be clear for decades, we need not wait that long to understand some key consequences.

'The states that have legalized marijuana have among the highest rates of marijuana use in the country. These states also have:
  • "Higher rates of marijuana-related driving fatalities.

  • More marijuana-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and accidental exposures.

  • Expansion of a lucrative criminal market.

  • Increases in marijuana-related crimes and juvenile offenses.

  • Increases in workplace problems, including labor shortages and accidents."
The sixth and final point is to secure the blessings of liberty. Does pot work to secure the blessings of liberty?

Approximately 4 million people are addicted to marijuana or suffer from marijuana-related problems. Research shows that about 1 in 10 people who use the drug will become addicted. For people who use before the age of 18, that number rises to 1 in 6.

Let's face it: drug addiction is the highest form of slavery now known in America.

Some contend that they should be able to use their freedom any way they wish to purchase and put in their bodies whatever they wish. But our liberties end where the inalienable rights of others begin. Therefore, if in the exercise of one's freedom, one should hinder the formation of a more perfect union for all, interfere with the establishment of justice, endanger domestic tranquility, weaken the common defense, and deter the general welfare, then freedom has been reduced from a blessing to a curse.

As the apostle Peter admonished: "Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil" (I Peter 2:16).

With these considerations in mind, it appears impossible to justify the legalization of marijuana as something consistent with the American way.

Granted, one might make the same arguments against alcohol. But it makes no sense to contend that we should continue adding to what is clearly in conflict with the most fundamental values of our constitution.

It's supposed to be "We the people," and not "Weed the people."

© Rev. Mark H. Creech

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Rev. Mark H. Creech

Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before taking this position, having served five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York.

Rev. Creech is a prolific speaker and writer, and has served as a radio commentator for Christians In Action, a daily program featuring Rev. Creech's commentary on social issues from a Christian worldview.

In addition to RenewAmerica.com, his weekly editorials are featured on the Christian Action League website and Agape Press, a national Christian newswire.

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