Christians Like Me Believe We Must End the Drug War to Win It

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Ballot initiatives decriminalizing drug use may be the best way to fight sinful drug abuse.

Voters in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota were presented with state ballot measures this year concerning the legalization of marijuana for recreational or medical use. Washington, DC, residents were asked to weigh in on psychedelic mushrooms, with an initiative to effectively decriminalize them by putting their growth, possession, and sale “among the Metropolitan Police Department’s lowest law enforcement priorities.” And in Oregon, a ballot measure proposed making these same “magic mushrooms” permissible for closely supervised medical consumption while decriminalizing possession of hard drugs including heroin, cocaine, and LSD.

Every single measure succeeded, though the questions appearing on the ballot at all would have been unimaginable just a few elections ago—we are only eight years past the first state legalization of recreational marijuana. Our country’s prohibitionary approach to drug use is over a century old, but recent decades have seen a move away from marijuana prohibition, and this election’s mushroom initiatives suggest the drug war, more broadly, may be headed toward a truce. This is a shift Christians can, and do, support according to recent data. However, to support changes in drug laws is not to condone drug abuse, but rather a realization that the drug war has proven itself a moral and practical horror.

The Bible doesn’t discuss drugs. It doesn’t address addiction as a phenomenon with elements of illness, heredity, and moral agency alike; and it never mentions intoxicants like marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, or narcotics. Yet we do have plenty of scriptural content on recreational alcohol use.

The Old Testament offers …

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