MARIJUANA – WONDERFUL WEED OR PROBLEMATIC POT?

By Dr Timothy Cheng

Tim Cheng

Dr Timothy Cheng, born and bred in Petaling Jaya, is an orthopaedic surgery trainee currently serving in Sabah. He worships at Basel Christian Church of Malaysia (KK) and believes that life is too short to be wasted.

Marijuana is also known as cannabis or more casually “weed”, “pot” or “grass”. Its two main uses are recreational and medical. This article is my own personal view on marijuana, which you may or may not agree with.

Medicinal use

I have not used or prescribed medical marijuana as a doctor. There are certain diseases where medical marijuana, or cannabinoids, has been used to alleviate symptoms and reduce pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. However, there has been no strong scientific evidence to support such usage; and even if there is, one should only consume it by prescription.

There has been no rigorous drug testing with medical marijuana and side effects can be unpredictable. For example, while it can be used to control seizures, it can also worsen seizures under certain conditions. Heart/lung diseases can also be aggravated by consuming medical marijuana, and it has been associated with damage to the developing brain of babies born to mothers who consume it.

Driving while high on marijuana (or on anything) or while distracted (even by the mobile phone) can result in nasty road traffic accidents. I personally have had to amputate limbs of people in such situations. My advice as a doctor – stay away from marijuana unless you want to dive into the sea of drug overdose, toxicity, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, suicidal/homicidal thoughts and the list goes on and on.

One may say, “I can control myself and will never overdose.” The fact is, no one can completely stay in control, so why expose yourself to the possibility?

Death sentence

Get caught in Malaysia with more than 200 grammes of marijuana on you and it’s the death sentence. That’s a waste of youth – why throw your life away for a few hours of pleasure? Some may argue that the death sentence is too harsh, and I might agree with you. But if that is the law of the land, don’t break it and then complain when you’re sentenced to death. One does not play in the rain and complain about getting wet.

The high that comes from marijuana is transient and can be detrimental. It is (usually) taken because of peer pressure and the need to fit into the “cool crowd”. Substitute that with the pleasure that comes from hobbies and other activities. Get your adrenaline rush from a mountain climb. A sports achievement lasts longer and is way more beneficial than smoking up.

Steward of your body

Some would then argue – marijuana is legal in certain countries. But as Christians, rather than ask, “Is it legal?”, we should be asking, “Is it profitable?” The Bible is silent on the consumption of such substances, but rather talks about the effects of it.

Using marijuana numbs the mind and distorts reality, which is clearly against what the Bible says about sobriety and being drunk. This applies to alcohol and any other substance that has the same effect.

We are called to be stewards of all that God has blessed us with. That includes our bodies. The first example of stewardship is probably the entrusting of the Garden of Eden to Adam, from which he was kicked out of as a result of disobeying His command. The parable of talents also illustrates what happens to those who do not take care of what God has blessed them with.

As mentioned earlier, the long-term effects of even small amounts of marijuana are not completely known to us, so consuming it would be poor stewardship of the bodies that God has given us. As a result, we only have ourselves to blame if our bodies react adversely to it.

Addictions to whatever is not right, as mentioned many times in Scripture. From computer games to shopping, anything that takes up so much time in our lives – displacing God, family and friends – is definitely something we should stop. This applies to other things such as electronic gadgets, sports and even the “beneficial” things we do. Marijuana tends to fall into that addictive category.

At the end of the day, I’d say whether to consume marijuana or not is a personal choice. One can easily justify it by saying, “It’s allowed by law, I’m taking it once a week (like a glass of wine), and it boosts my concentration and focus, and energises me. I’m not addicted and there’s no danger.”

Some may even say “marijuana to the glory of God” (which is really stretching it). By all means go ahead, but bear in mind the consequences and dangers that you are opening yourself to.

Me personally? I wouldn’t do weed. Not worth the risks, and too many other better things to spend my time and money on.

Asian Beacon: Jul – Sep 2018 (Vol 50 #3, p18-19)

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