Readers, I have received several comments responding to my post on September 21, 2018, titled "Marijuana and Christianity: Is CBD Sinful?" Some are confused, some elated. The truth is Christians don't seem to know much about CBD, prescription opioids and the growing opioid crisis, and the Bible as it relates to different medicines. What we do tend to know about is anything the mainstream media or Government tells us is bad or illegal – like cocaine, methamphetamines or meth, and recreational marijuana at the Federal level.
Here are some facts of which many Christians might not be aware. Vicodin and Norco are two names for a commonly prescribed narcotic painkiller, hydrocodone. Christians and non-Christians alike use hydrocodone, many without ever questioning its origin. If you don't know, hydrocodone is a semisynthetic opioid derived from codeine, which is one of the opioid alkaloids found in the opium poppy (hence opioid). Similar to Oxycodone and related to dozens of opioid preparations, hydrocodone is part of the group of addictive painkillers that according to WebMD were prescribed more than 214 million times in 2016, that killed nearly 117,000 Americans in 2015 and 2016, which is more than the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined, and that afflicts roughly 2 million Americans ages 12 and older with addiction every day, according to a 2015 study.
Here is another fact most of us missed. In June of this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moved from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5 certain preparations of cannabidiol (CBD) with extremely low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychotropic compound in marijuana. But what does that mean? Schedule 1 drugs are narcotic drugs that carry with them a high risk of abuse and addiction and have no currently accepted medical use. Schedule 5 drugs are narcotic drugs with the lowest potential for abuse among scheduled drugs, limited quantities of narcotics in their preparation, and include recognized medicines such as Robitussin AC.
"Hey, that's great." You say. "But what does that mean for Christians in constant pain who seek alternative solutions to addictive and life-destroying narcotics?"
I'm glad you asked.
Some Christians may not be aware that Luke the disciple of Christ and evangelist was a physician. In Colossians, we are told that "Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you" (Col 4:14, NKJV). There has also been ample study done and numerous books written on the topic of medicines from Biblical times. Further, most if not all denominations of Christianity today recognize the skill of today's physicians as a gift from God; therefore, prescriptions to combat pain can be an extension of that gift.
The Bible clearly indicates man in Jesus' day used wine as a painkiller. Wine was also the accepted drink in Jesus' time, mostly because clean water wasn't always readily available and wine, though it carried with it the potential for abuse, was at least free of microorganisms that caused illness and disease.
"Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." (1 Tim 5:23, NIV)
"In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain." (1 Tim 3:8, NIV)
But what about marijuana and the fact that the only Federally legalized preparation of CBD is for the explicit treatment of seizures and has not been approved, at the Federal level, for pain or recreational use?
Christian, this is the difficulty in the CBD conversation. Christ calls for us to honor the authority of the Government(s) over us, and Romans 13 is one of the most quoted scriptures in the CBD conversation. It also causes great confusion for Christians in states where marijuana use is legal because marijuana use of any kind remains illegal on the Federal level.
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." (Rom 13:1-2, NIV)
Christians, the confusion comes from a lack of knowledge, lack of research, or stigma associated with marijuana. Newsflash: CBD comes from hemp (non-psychoactive) as well as marijuana (psychoactive), and hemp-based CBD products are legal in all 50 states. For Christians, that means pain management by hemp-derived CBD aligns with scripture and law. It also means any use of marijuana-derived CBD remains conflicted for Christians and illegal at the Federal level while legal in some states (9 – recreationally; 46 with a physician's prescription).
Friends, our loving Father has created many useful substances in nature that are both beneficial to the body and safe for our use. It is our responsibility to seek His face and research which of those substances align with scripture, still provide the benefits we need, and are legal as far as governing authorities are concerned. So let's educate ourselves, pray unceasingly, and use what God has given in the manner in which He intended. We don't need to rebel against those authorities when what God has provided is sufficient for our needs.
– Mark Klages is an influential contributor, a former US Marine and a lifelong teacher who focuses on applying a Christian worldview to everyday events. Mark blogs at https://maklagesl3.wixsite.com/website under the title "God Provides where Hate Divides," with a heart to heal social, political, relational, and intellectual wounds through God's divine love and grace. Mark can also be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-klages-04b42511/.