The big health news last week was that CVS was stopping its sales of tobacco related products a month earlier than anticipated. Its chairman regretted losing the $400 million in sales, but said it was ultimately the right thing to do.
The public response has been all positive, as tobacco products are generally recognized as harmful to the user and the non-user; and the escalating price and difficulty in purchasing tobacco products is seen as a good thing.
In a seemingly unrelated story, rumors began circulating about the same time that in exchange for stricter penalties for HGH use, the NFL was willing to soften penalties for those charged with the use of marijuana, and other so called recreational drugs.
The public response has been mostly positive. After all, 2 states have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, several others allow for the alleged medicinal use of marijuana, and the federal government has all but stopped prosecuting those in possession of small amounts of marijuana. Even conservative advocates and politicians are beginning to cede the war on marijuana, and willing to allow for limited usage.
The growing national consensus is that tobacco products are all bad, and that marijuana products are all good.
The purpose of this post is not to defend tobacco products. I do not smoke or chew, and I do not encourage you to smoke or chew. In case you have not noticed, those who do, generally get sick and die. However, despite my stance against tobacco usage, I do not believe it should be banned at any and all costs.
The purpose of this post is to point out the hypocrisy of this situation. At the same time we are praising a for-profit business for ceasing its sales of a very profitable and very legal product, we are demanding that laws be softened, if not completely eliminated on a very illegal product.
The differences between tobacco and marijuana are not negligible. Marijuana is a hallucinogenic, it alters the minds ability to think. Unlike alcohol which has increasing impairments upon the mind and body based on the amount consumed, marijuana affects the mind from the very first inhaling. Tobacco, other than being addictive, does not impair owes ability to make judgments or operate machinery.
And this is where the Church comes in. The Church has never had a position on tobacco use. One reason may very well be that many in the leadership of the Church have smoked pipes and cigars and even cigarettes. Unfortunately, the Church has never had a position on the so-called recreational drugs either. One reason might be that it is only in recent years that the legalization of recreational drugs has even been an issue; prior to the past 5-10 years, the federal drug laws basically said marijuana was illegal no matter what.
The Church always seems to find itself in these situations, perhaps following the words of Ezekiel 33:7-9 and desiring to call those trapped in sin to repent of their sin. The abortion issue dominated the 1970’s-2000’s; the marriage issue now dominates the culture, and in a very short time, the issue will be the legalization of marijuana and other supposed recreational drugs.
Unfortunately, the Church also seems to always find itself behind on these issues: abortion and same sex marriage were deemed to be so preposterous who would ever consider such a thing? That is true for people raised in the faith, but not for those outside the faith, and so the Church has had to play catch-up. It would be nice, if this time the Church was ready with simple and ready arguments to combat the growing push to legalize drugs.
Presumably the Church will have time, as it will not be able to indulge in tobacco products any longer.