The Old Testament's Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 29 reads: And God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth.”
Cannabis, of course, perfectly fits the definition of a worldwide “herb bearing seed,” yet despite that ringing endorsement from the highest of powers, some Christians in Colorado are opposed to Amendment 64, the ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana statewide. Still, there are other Christian and Jewish spiritual leaders who may not support marijuana use but do want to end the hypocrisy of prohibition. These divergent opinions among Colorado clergy underscore the divide in the state over legalizing recreational pot.
Roughly ten pastors spoke at an event at Agape Christian Church in Denver last week. The event was organized by Smart Colorado, No on 64, and there was no shortage of anti-pot hyperbole from the men of the cloth.
Bishop Acen Phillips of New Birth Temple of Praise Community Baptist Church assured the gathering that legal pot is “heading to a path of total destruction.”
They also relied on the oft-repeated arguments that legalization would lead to an increase of pot use among the youth (never mind studies showing that young people smoke less in medical pot states) and echoed Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's unfounded assertion that legal pot would draw drug dealers to Colorado. Legalizing pot would actually eliminate the need for drug dealers and thus the violent crime associated with their presence.
The Yes on 64 Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol responded by releasing a list of 25 pro-pot pastors. These pastors share the unique perspective that religious leaders and parents should determine who uses marijuana, not the government. One such leader is Rabbi Steven Foster of Temple Emmanuel, who released a statement declaring: “I am supporting Amendment 64 because, as clergy, we have the responsibility to talk about what policies serve our community best. You do not have to use marijuana – or even approve of marijuana – to see that our current laws are not working.”
Retired Methodist minister Rev. Bill Kirton mirrored Rabbi Foster's sentiment when he told the Associated Press: “I do not support smoking pot. I do not like the stuff ... But the harm it does is much less than sending more and more people to prison. And I think it's time to legalize marijuana.”