Many discuss the dangers of marijuana but few address how it can destroy Western Christian culture.
The Liberal Agenda To Legalize Marijuana
However, this harm is plausible, given the left’s efforts to make the legalization of marijuana a vital part of its agenda. A decriminalization bill will soon be presented to the House of Representatives.1 This past election, all the state referenda to legalize marijuana passed. Most states have legalized its medical and/or recreational use.2
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Apart from growing legal acceptance, the left has succeeded in making the drug’s recreational and occasional use very common. According to a poll in 2017, most Americans have tried marijuana, and of those, 44% continue to use it.3 Over 11 million young adults used marijuana in the past year. In 2019, 11.8% of 8th graders, 28.8% of 10th graders, and 35.7% of 12th graders reported marijuana use in the past year.4
Liberal news and entertainment media portray marijuana use favorably in movies, TV shows, music and literature. Its availability and appearance of legality make it appear neither addictive nor harmful.
Relaxation, Marijuana’s Nirvana
The key to understanding marijuana use is its negative effect on the mind.
Marijuana has two active components: cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychotropic element that causes relaxation and euphoria and results in the desired effect of a “high” or “buzz.”
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The state of relaxation caused by marijuana use is a particular type of relaxation fused with unusual characteristics. Users experience an altered perception of identity and time. Frequently, their eyes will lack focus, and their vision becomes hazy. The brain seems to shut down or disconnect. Users feel sedated and lack motivation. Their motor skills become impaired, and their reactions slow down. Many notice a loss of short-term memory. These are the “positive effects” of marijuana that weed users seek when getting high.
This “nirvana” turns marijuana use into a cultural experience that affects a person’s perception of reality. In the context of the Culture War, it helps explain why the left gives it such importance.
A Manifesto Against Marijuana
If there is a manifesto against marijuana, it would be Joseph Pieper’s celebrated book, Leisure: The Basis of Culture. This German Catholic philosopher’s book has been praised as one of the most important philosophical works of the twentieth century.5
In his book, Pieper attacks the vice of acedia, which he sees as the opposite of leisure. Acedia is associated with sloth, restlessness, apathy and torpor. It is characterized as a negligence, carelessness, and indifference to spiritual things.
Saint Thomas describes acedia as a state of “an oppressive sorrow, which, to wit, so weighs upon man’s mind, that he wants to do nothing.”
6 To escape the sorrows of reality, marijuana users sink into substance-induced acedia characterized by the flight from sorrow and the inactivity of soul, mind, and body.
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Pieper sees acedia7 as an idleness where the higher functions of the soul and the mind are inactive. Thus, it makes leisure impossible since it contradicts the conditions needed for leisure to flourish.8
The Excellence of Leisure
“Leisure,” Pieper wrote, “is a mental and spiritual attitude.” It is an Aristotelian notion linked to the medieval concept of the contemplative life.9 In Genesis, Pieper pointed out that God ended each day, beholding his creation and declaring it to be good. On the seventh day, He beheld the entirety of His creation and judged it was “very good.”
“In the same way,” Pieper wrote, “man celebrates and gratefully accepts the reality of creation in leisure and the inner vision that accompanies it.” 10 It is “a receptive attitude of mind, a contemplative attitude, and it is not only the occasion but also the capacity for steeping oneself in the whole of creation.” For this reason, Saint Thomas Aquinas said that “It is necessary for the perfection of human society that there should be men who devote their lives to contemplation.” (pg. 22)
“There is a certain happiness in leisure,” Pieper continues, “that comes from the recognition of the mysteriousness of the universe and the recognition of our incapacity to understand it…” (pg 27). The soul and core of leisure is celebration, specifically divine worship. Even the ancients considered the act of worship (cultus) as the highest of all human activities. In the same way, Christendom considered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the highest expression of leisure, of intellectual and spiritual life.
In this sense, Pieper affirms that leisure is the foundation of Western and Christian culture. In this context, there are three ways marijuana use will lead to the destruction of Western and Christian culture and facilitate the formation of an anti-culture.
Marijuana Destroys The Image of God
This induced idleness is an attack on human nature. Saint Thomas teaches that what distinguishes humanity from animals is the intellect’s capacity to reason.
The relaxation marijuana users experience is not conducive to reasoning. This mental inactivity obstructs all the mind’s operations from simple reflection to the highest contemplation so essential for leisure.
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Recreational or one-time users should be wary. Willingly suspending that part of human nature made in the Creator’s image is a grave matter. To destroy this image, even if momentarily, instead of perfecting it, is an act of destruction of His image, akin to vandalizing a holy statue or desecrating a church altar. These things might eventually be repaired, but the acts should cause horror.
Marijuana Inhibits The Action of Grace
The attack on Western and Christian culture does not stop on the natural plane. Because the intellect is impaired by marijuana use, it inhibits the action of grace and, therefore, the practice of virtue.
Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches that man is made in the image of God in three ways. The first is by the intellect. The second is by the love and practice of virtue. The third is by glory.11
The state of leisure opens the soul to grace, which is rewarded with eternal glory. The more perfect a person’s nature is, the easier it is for grace to act. The inverse is true. It is more difficult for grace to act upon a corrupted or imperfect nature. Thus, it is more difficult for a person whose intellect and will have been addled by the use of marijuana to know and love God and cooperate with His Grace.
Marijuana Promotes an Anti-culture
Marijuana presents a third way of attacking culture.
In Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s book, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, he warns of a Cultural Revolution of the sixties. The author describes the effects of this Revolution as “the extinction of the old standards of individual reflection, volition, and sensibility.” 12 He foresees a growing “aversion to intellectual effort, notably to abstraction, theorization, and doctrinal thought…” It will be characterized by the “growing dislike for anything that is reasoned, structured, and systematized.” The culture favors “the atrophy of reason and the hypertrophy of the senses.” 13
The use of marijuana favors this Cultural Revolution by its destructive effect upon reasoning and its rejection of true leisure. The resulting civilization will not be Western nor Christian. It will be a neo-pagan tribal society.
Thus, the danger of legalizing marijuana goes beyond the negative effects of THC that cause physical and psychological damage to its users. Marijuana also defaces God’s image in the soul, which has an impact on society and culture.
These reasons show why the left favors the legalization of marijuana. This drive has puzzled many people, even in conservative circles. It’s past time to be fully aware of the physical, spiritual, and cultural dangers marijuana poses to society. It’s past time to mount a more forceful resistance.
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6. Summa Theologica, II-II, Question 35, Article 1 (https://www.newadvent.org/summa/3035.htm)
7. Leisure: The Basis of Culture by Joseph Pieper, 23.
8. Ibid, 26.
9. Ibid, 3.
10. Ibid, 29.
11. Summa Theologica, I, Q. 93, Art. 4 (https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1093.htm#article9)
12. Revolution and Counterrevolution, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, pg. 158
13. Ibid, pg. 160