According to the Tennessean, twenty-nine states in the US have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and Tennessee may be the the thirtieth after two Republican state representatives brought forth legislation on January 18th this year. The bill would not allow raw cannabis to be sold, only oil-based manufactured products, such as pills or lotions. State Senator Steve Dickerson commented, “Now is the time for the General Assembly to embrace thoughtful, medically responsible legislation to help Tennessee’s sickest residents.”
If you have cancer, AIDS, HIV, PTSD, severe arthritis, or many other conditions, then you would qualify to receive a marijuana prescription. The state representatives estimate up to sixty-five thousand people in Tennessee will benefit from this new legislation. In order to regulate dispensaries and patients, a new state board called the Tennessee Medical Cannabis Commission will be formed consisting of doctors, law enforcement officials, educators, and more. They will oversee the management of registration cards that those who receive a prescription must use to receive cannabis drugs at a pharmacy or dispensary.
Of course not everyone is happy to see this cannabis bill voted on. Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally believes marijuana is a gateway drug and should not be used recreationally or medically. It is also a long shot for the bill to pass the House with many representatives sharing McNally’s opinion and the presence of Tennessee’s already strict alcohol laws.
According to Business Insider, marijuana will potentially hit $9.7 billion in 2017 sales and employ around 200,000 people. Support for cannabis is also increasingly growing in the US. Last October, the polling service Gallup reported sixty-four percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana. Furthermore, over half of Republicans also support the legalization of this drug. Therefore, while Tennessee may not legalize cannabis this time, there is an increasingly likely chance recreational and medical marijuana may be legalized nationwide in the next few years.
Should Christians support this cannabis bill? The Bible speaks clearly Christians should keep clean and refrain from drunkenness because our bodies our a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Smoking marijuana clearly changes one’s demeanor similar to the effects of drunkenness, but the Bible does not explicitly speak about getting high. If recreational marijuana becomes legal nationwide, then church leaders are going to have to take a stronger stance on whether or not smoking marijuana is sinful or not.