Open Letter About My Advocacy of Marijuana Legalization

Dearest Rick,

I am writing you this open letter because you recently made a comment on a Facebook post I recently made about cannabis’ ability to fight and sometimes cure cancer.  I can understand your curiosity towards my interest in and position on this sensitive issue, and because I have been asked about my stance on and activism for the legalization of marijuana by others in the past, I felt I could address all of these questions and concerns in an open letter posted to my blog so that you and others could comment.

First, why would it be more understandable if I were a student at a secular university?  I guess I just don’t understand your statement, because I would still be the same person that I am now even if I were going to a secular university.  I would still be a Christian, and I would still feel the same way I do now about the prohibition of marijuana, I would still feel the same way I do about the complete failure we call the “War on Drugs,” and I would still be supportive of those who are fighting for its legalization.  I would still stand 100% theologically, politically, and personally behind the idea that the cannabis plant was created by God with exactly the medicinal, industrial, nutritional, and recreational uses that it has, and that when it is used in a proper and responsible manner can be beneficial to and good for those who use it. I would also still hold the belief that it should be a person’s right to choose what they put into their bodies, and I would still believe that our Founding Father’s would completely agree with me on this last point (For the benefit of those who didn’t read the original post, the quote I used in the post, which is actually a paraphrase from Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on Virgina, was: “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls who live under tyranny”).  I don’t think the fact that the school at which I attend forbids the use of alcohol and drugs is in any way contradictory to or in direct conflict with my activism in the fight for marijuana legalization.  I don’t have to have all the same beliefs as the school at which I attend, and I don’t have to agree with everything they say and do (as my disapproval of and dislike for the firing on Dr. LeDonne would indicate).  I am not on here advocating people should get high all day and/or some crazy party lifestyle, I am advocating the legalization of a simple plant with sometimes seemingly miraculous potential, and an almost innumerable amount of industrial and medicinal uses, not to mention its nutritional and recreational uses.

As to what the majority of students at LCU post about, this is simply a red herring.  It is neither here nor there what other students post about, and my devotion to and love for God is not measured in the amount (or frequency) of status’ that I post about my faith, but in the walk I have with my Creator and Savior.  I would concede to you the point that to outsiders such as yourself, who do not interact with me anywhere else except for on social media like Facebook, it seems like I may be “Obsessed” with the topic of marijuana legalization, but that is only because I don’t tend to use Facebook or even Twitter very often any more, and when I do, it is usually because I have been reading information on a topic about which I am passionate, and I want to share that information with people whom I care about and am acquainted with who may not know the truth about Cannabis.

True, you could try to here argue that if I were reading my Bible more, or reading about Jesus more I would be posting about it more than I am about marijuana, but that would only be based on the false assumption that every time I read something of interest I post about it.  Many times, God is speaking to me throughout the day and most of the time the lessons are personal ones that I don’t feel inclined to post about.

This is where Nick makes an excellent point, when he states that it is not extra-biblical to find objective medicinal benefits in a plant that God created.  I personally would go a step further and assert that there is a Biblical mandate to speak forth and fight for truth, and to fight against injustice.  This is exactly what I am trying to do by making the numerous posts that I make either about the medicinal benefits of marijuana, or on the failure of the drug war and prohibition to stop or even curb drug use in this country, and the millions of dollars of tax money we waste fighting a war we can’t win.  I am trying to speak truth to people who would otherwise never hear the other side to the story of marijuana.  Since grade school, so many of us are only told one side of the story about marijuana, and most of the things they have heard are either misleading or outright false.  It is a plant that has the potential to be abused, but it also has the potential to do great good in the world.  It is not something the government should be wasting money on, and this is especially so when our government is continuing to ignore the facts staring it in the face.  This is what I mean when I say that I am fighting against injustice.  There is a lot of injustice going on when nearly a quarter of the persons incarcerated in this country are for non-violent drug offenses.  This injustice extends not only to the persons who are being mandatorily locked up for drug possession or sale, but also to the tax payers who are paying for the prisons that are already overcrowded.  The conditions that the prisoners experience in these overcrowded prisons is sub-par and such close proximity leads to escalations in prisoner violence, which puts the lives of the prisoners and the guards at risk.  Many patients who are currently suffering could find relief and healing from the legalization of marijuana, and many states would benefit from the tax revenue gained by the medicinal marijuana industry.  When our government is going after seriously sick persons whose only crime is trying to find some relief or healing from the symptoms they suffer, we have serious cases of injustice going on that we as Christians have every right to fight against in the name of Jesus Christ.  This is an area where I feel called to fight, and so fight I will until this injustice is remedied.  I am not asking for you to fully understand or support the cause for which I fight, though I am asking you to respect it and try to be open-minded and open-hearted about it.

I understand that you may not agree with me on the topic of whether or not marijuana should be legalized, and I can even understand if you are skeptical about the medicinal benefits of it (though there is plenty of well documented and scientifically verified research done in this area), but I don’t understand why you find my passion for and activism in the fight for the legalization of marijuana “odd.”  You may think I post on it too much, and you may think I should be posting more “Faith” oriented status’, but it is my life, and my Facebook account, and I as a citizen of the United States of America, as a fellow Christian, and as a human being have the right (at the moment at least) to think, say, do, and feel as I see fit, and what I post and with what frequency falls under that right as well.  You have the right to think about, listen to, ignore, dismiss, or even ridicule my position.  I merely believe that people should be allowed the opportunity to know the truth, so I try to provide opportunities for others to learn and grow in understanding on a topic about which I am passionate, and about which I believe many are misinformed on.  I am simply trying to fight for a cause of truth against an injustice I believe is being obstinately perpetuated by our government in the face of facts to the contrary.

You are probably right to point out (though you did so in a way that felt like a jab) that other people are using Facebook to “fight for the cause of Christ” more so than I am.  You may be right that I could be fighting for the cause of Christ, rather than the cause of marijuana, but I don’t think you understand that I AM fighting for the cause of Christ while I am fighting for the cause of marijuana legalization!  I say this because not only do I believe that Christ calls us to Speak Truth and Spread Love as we fight against lies and injustices, but also because the connections I build as I network and unite with others as we fight for legalization allows me to speak the Truth of Jesus Christ into their lives.  I have had multiple conversations with atheists, non-believers, and sinners (you know, the people who fall short just like you and me, and who also need the love of Christ and the salvation that only He can bring) about Christ because of the opportunities those connections have afforded me.

I do not separate my love of Christ from my belief that marijuana could be beneficial to thousands if not millions if only we would legalize and tax it.  My faith in God and my fight for legalization come from the same heart that loves the Lord our God with all that I am, and strives each day to surrender myself to Him.  I have tried and I have tried and I have tried to stop sinning, and I have tried to live a good life for God, but I fail, and miserably so most times.  I fuck up each and every day, in both the way I interact with God and others, yet each day He forgives me, and each day He calls me to Himself for healing, for forgiveness, for courage, and for encouragement.  He gives me life and He gives me love.  He also gives me correction and rebuke.  For all of this I thank and praise Him.  Without his daily grace, I would be condemned to hell at least ten thousand times over (Which by the way is why come thou Font is my favorite hymn, with my favorite line being, “O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.  Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee.”).   God is my passion, and my King.  My Creator and my Redeemer.  God saved me because he saw value and worth in me and because He has a purpose for me that I can only begin to hint at fathoming, and I fight for Cannabis because I see value and worth and a purpose in this simple plant that grows in almost every climate on nearly every continent and which has so many valuable purposes I could not even begin to name them all.  The research is all out there, all you have to do is look.  I don’t expect everyone to be as passionate as I am about this fight, but it is indeed a fight about which I am passionate (as this letter and its length attest) and so obsessive I sometimes seem.  But I will tell you all here that my passion for God is in no way hindered and in many ways helped by passion for this pungent plant.

I hope this long letter has addressed the issues that it needed to, and as this is an open letter, I hope that everyone who has read this through may also be blessed by its content.  I fight for marijuana because I see that it has the potential to be utilized in so many beneficial ways, and that its responsible use would eliminate many of the negative issues most people have with it.  I am not out here advocating that people should be getting high all day and breaking the law, even if that is a stance others who advocate marijuana legalization would take.  I am on here advocating the legalization of marijuana and the changing of unjust laws that don’t accomplish what they claim to have been created to accomplish.  I am trying to spread the truth about  this injustice to others, and am trying to speak the truth of Jesus Christ while I do it.  If I am failing to do what God has called me to do, then only I am answerable to God for that.  If I am succeeding, I pray that God would use my activism to speak truth and spread love to others who may benefit, and I pray that He will provide me more opportunities to speak to and love on non-believers and believers alike as I fight for a cause I feel driven towards and passionate about.

May God bless you immensely for reading this far and hearing me out on this topic about which I am passionate (had I mentioned before how passionate I am about this? *wink*).  I encourage you specifically Rick, and you whoever else you are reading this far, to respond to this if you feel  you should, and I will do my best to humbly, respectfully, and graciously respond and interact with anyone willing to take the time to comment on this.

In Truth with Love,

Derek J. Brent

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5 responses to “Open Letter About My Advocacy of Marijuana Legalization”

  1. Samantha Beck says :

    Hi, I’m Sam, Joshua Beck’s wife. Thanks for checking out his blog! I saw your comment and decided to check out your blog. I have a couple questions for you. First, people in prison for drug sale and use are not all there for using marijuana as medicine. Many of them dealt much more dangerous drugs, and they all broke the law, so how is their incarceration unjust? Or are you only referring to the marijuana cases? Also, can you reply with some links to studies showing the benefits of medical marijuana? I’ve never seen any.

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      Sam, Thank you so much for your comment, and for taking the time to check out my blog! I do hope that you have had an opportunity to check out my other posts besides the two or so I have on marijuana legalization. I just wanted to post this quick reply to let you know that I have seen your comment and am currently writing a reply, but please know that this is either going to be quite a long comment back, or it may become an independent blog post if I have your permission to quote your comment and reply as a full post due to its length. Either way, It may take a while to read in its entirety, and I am still not fully done writing it, as I have been working on another blog post that responds to something that another commenter said but is a point which would be off-topic to the comment they made (not to mention my homework that is always demanding my attention as well).

      I have never been good when it comes to brevity, and tend to be a bit of a verbose speaker and writer. However, I do try and take all comments seriously, and as such, I sometimes want and need to do plenty of research in order to back of a belief or claim, and usually have a lot to say in reply regardless of whether research is necessary.

      please let me know if you would rather I simply write it as a long reply to this comment of yours, or whether you would like it to be a full post on its own. If I don’t hear back from you by the time the comment is ready, I will simply make it a lengthy reply-comment to yours.

      Thanks again for commenting, and I hope you may benefit in some way from the content of this blog.

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      I was just going through some of my folders on my computer and realized I never posted this comment in reply to you even though I wrote it up a few days after your comment. I know this has been over a year and a half since your comment, and for that I’m sorry. I hope my response here is useful, albeit extremely delayed.

      First, to answer your first question and comments, you are correct, not all of those that make up ¼ of the prison population (those who are incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses) are in there for medicinal marijuana. “In 2004, ‘Marijuana prisoners’ equaled about 12.6% of those incarcerated for drug law violations and about 3.2% of total state and federal prisoners” (http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/53 accessed 10-20-12). I have no way of knowing how many of those were for medicinal marijuana and how many for recreational marijuana, but I am not really concerned with which were which, because I support legalization of marijuana for medicinal, industrial and recreational use.

      You are correct that they are incarcerated because they broke the law, but I do not think that it should be against the law to use marijuana either recreationally or medicinally (though I would be supportive of age-restrictions for legal recreational marijuana use just as I am supportive of age-restrictions for legal alcohol use). I claim that it is unjust that they are locked up because I feel the laws which placed them there are unjust.

      Think of it this way: Suppose prayer were a crime, and violation of this law was punishable by a mandatory jail sentence. If someone were locked up for this “crime” it would be against the law, but wouldn’t it also be unjust that they were locked up, since the law they broke was an unjust one?

      I feel the same way about marijuana specifically, and am not going to comment about harder drugs since I am not here arguing for legalization of anything other than marijuana. Please check my other post on why I feel marijuana should be legal for an in depth discussion of at least some of my arguments (which is from a secular point of view, meaning that those are arguments that could/should appeal to both Christians and non-Christians alike since I make no special appeal to God or faith etc.). This is not an exhaustive list of arguments, but it is an opening set of arguments that I created several months back. I will likely write up another set of arguments on some of the areas that I have neglected, and possibly to answer potential objections to the legalization of marijuana.

      That said, let me sketch up a quick argument for why I feel marijuana should be legalized. I believe that marijuana is a much safer recreational drug than either alcohol or tobacco. Both of these substances have been shown to be detrimental to the health of the user, and yet we allow adults who are of the proper age to use them. We do not punish a legal adult for consuming alcohol, even though it is potentially detrimental to his or her health, and despite the fact that the consumption of alcohol can be dangerous for both the user and those around them (simply look at the number of cases of domestic abuse that are related to alcohol abuse). We do not punish a legal adult for using or even over-using (i.e. abusing) alcohol, but we would and should punish them for any crimes they committed while under the influence of alcohol. We do not punish a person for getting wasted at a bar, but we would and should punish them for driving their car home while intoxicated. It is not the use of alcohol itself that is (or should be) the crime, it is harm they cause others or illegal things they do that should be punished.

      The same should be the case with marijuana. We should not be punishing people for what they put into their bodies, but we absolutely should punish people for doing bad things while on those substances. We do not punish people for eating many foods that are extremely unhealthy, such as fast foods that are high in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fats, even though eating these things, especially in excess, is detrimental to our health. I believe marijuana should be treated like alcohol, in that it should be legalized, regulated, taxed, and age-restricted, but that legal adults should be allowed to possess and use it as a recreational substance. I also think that if it were legal, it should be used in moderation, as anything taken or done in excess (be it eating, drinking, TV, drugs, etc.) can be a bad thing.

      The problem I come to with the harder drugs is that even though the same argument of “it should not be the use that is punished, but the bad things that are done on it that are punished” can be said of them as well, I do not think that they should be legal, mainly because they are not just unhealthy, but a single use can be deadly. I am not comfortable with saying that the possession, creation, or distribution of these harder drugs should ever be legalized. My fight and my arguments are meant for marijuana, because it has been shown to be the least harmful of all controlled substances, and even less harmful that caffeine! (check out http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Addictive_Properties for a chart illustrating the addictive properties of various substances. accessed 10-20-12). Note that I am only talking about marijuana when I am speaking about injustice of incarceration, as I am not trying to address the other crimes, and while there are some who say incarceration for any non-violent drug crime is unjust, that is not the case that I am arguing for, and you are correct to point out that I did not clarify that in this post.

      Second, as for the medicinal benefits of marijuana, I would point out that our bodies have a natural network of receptors called the endocannabinoid system, which is a series of receptors found throughout our bodies which reacts to cannabinoids, such as those found in plants such as Cannabis Sativa. Endocannabinoid receptors are the densest receptors found in the brain, and are found throughout the rest of the body. These receptors are made to react to cannabinoids from outside of the body, as well as the endocannabinoids that our bodies naturally produce. A great, short video discussing this system can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVS9QIzTT7k (You don’t have to accept the obvious evolutionary hypothesis about how this system first came about, because as the video points out near the end, “whether you believe in the Theory of Evolution or the Theory of Intelligent Design, the results are clear… Our bodies are designed to accept cannabinoids”)

      http://www.livestrong.com/article/219707-how-does-marijuana-help-cancer-patients/ discusses the ways in which marijuana can help cancer patients.

      http://www.cannabissearch.com/medical_benefits/ lists a number of different conditions thought to be helped by cannabis

      The following are quotes from the American Cancer Societies website in an article on cannabis which can be found at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/marijuana

      “The mixture of CBD and THC has been approved in some other countries for cancer pain. It is being tested in clinical trials (on human volunteers) in the United States, and so far it is showing promise for helping people with cancer pain that is unrelieved by strong pain medicines. Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine.”

      “Overall, several reviewers have concluded that cannabinoids are useful for improving appetite in patients with AIDS.”

      “A 2010 research review looked at studies using cannabinoids in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The studies used a variety of medicines that contained THC and/or CBD, or a marijuana extract. People using the cannabinoids or extracts generally reported less severe problems with muscle spasms than those who got placebo. But when researchers measured the spasms, they couldn’t see much difference in the actual spastic movements between the drug and placebo. Some of them questioned whether the improvement was too small to measure objectively. One of the researchers noted that the patients also reported less pain, and another observed that spasms happened less often on the cannabinoids than on the placebo – either of which might explain why the patients felt better even though the improvement in spasms might have been small.”

      “A small early study of CT-3, a substance related to delta-9-THC, looked at people with neuropathic pain (pain related to the nerves of the body). It tested CT-3 against a placebo, and found that patients reported lower pain levels 3 hours after receiving the CT-3 compared with placebo.”

      “More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol) slow growth and/or cause death in certain types of cancer cells growing in laboratory dishes. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer. However, these substances have not been tested [here I would add legally] in humans to find out if they can lower cancer risk.”

      This last site is probably going to be the most reliable since it is more biased against marijuana as a medicine, and yet still lists known medicinal benefits. Yes, the article addresses many concerns about marijuana as medicine, but many of these concerns can be dealt with and addressed if you would like to have a more in depth conversation about the potential medicinal benefits and harms of marijuana as medicine. One of the things they mention but don’t go in depth on is the hemp oil and its potential benefits for curing and helping a number of ailments. More can be found on this at http://www.thenhf.com/article.php?id=497

      As I wrote the above over a year and a half ago, I’m not sure if there was anything else I wanted to say in reply, so I’ll just leave what I’ve written above, and you can reply with any comments or questions you may have on this topic.

  2. Haris Musah says :

    I am surprised by your many different believes from common Christian. You find that marijuana should be legalized, but I tell you it is not good for one to do such drugs. In Quran it says

    “In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.” And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: “That which is beyond your needs.” Thus Allah makes clear to you His Laws in order that you may give thought.” S. 2:219 Hilali-Khan

    This is similar to Bible verse about sin being possible but not beneficial. This legalization would cause more sin than benefit.Clearly this type of behavior will lead to damnation like it says: œWhoever his sin is from desire [Craving] have hope for his Repentance {!}

    for indeed Aadam disobeyed Allaah from desire (Craving) and was forgiven…. !

    and whoever his sin is from Arrogance {!}

    then Fear for his Damnation.

    • Derek J. Brent says :

      Musah, I have no problem having a discussion on this topic, but I ask for the sake of this discussion that you and I refrain from quoting Scriptures at each other as the only source of our arguments, since I do not accept the validity of the Quran as a holy scripture, and this can easily devolve into a discussion on the validity of the Bible vs. the Quran. Since neither Scripture makes direct reference to Cannabis, I ask that we exam the merits of our opponents argument based on the merits of those arguments, not based on our own interpretation of our Scriptures.

      Your whole comment seems to sum up to this: doing drugs is wrong, and legalizing marijuana would cause more harm than good. what evidence do you have to support the claim that legalization would cause more harm than good, outside of the aayahs you have quoted in your comment?

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