Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, June 4, 2023

Shavuah Tov,

“It’s Just a Little (Harmless) Weed” – Part 1

by Dr. Raymond Finney

INTRODUCTION: I am concerned about the rampant use and the acceptance of use of marijuana (and other drugs). We Americans have chosen to become a nation of drugged citizens, who wander through life in a foggy haze.

Marijuana has several nicknames, including one used in the title of this RR (“weed”).

This “recreational drug” is used by millions of Americans. Users commonly claim, “It’s just a little weed.” They then quickly add their expert opinion, “It does no harm.” These deluded users parrot the lies other potheads, pushers,  popular media reporters, and politicians have told them. The truth is that marijuana is harmful. Do lies about marijuana’s safety originate with Satan, who wishes to destroy our society? See John 8:44b: [Yeshua said] “… [The devil] … does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks lies he is just being himself– for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Is there really any harm to marijuana use? Is widespread, unrepentant drug use (“sorcery” in many Bible translations) a sign of the end of the Age? The answer is “Yes” to both questions. In the next two RRs, I wish to say a few things about marijuana and other drugs. You need to know some things about escaping reality by crawling into a bottle or plastic packet, even if you are a tea-totaler.

SOURCE OF MARIJUANA: The drug marijuana is derived from a flowering, weedy plant, named Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica by botanists. Marijuana comes from the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of the Cannabis plant. Cannabis originated in eastern Asia, but the plant is now cultivated throughout the world to allow harvesting plant parts for drug use. Cannabis grows well in eastern Tennessee.

MARIJUANA AS A DRUG: The Cannabis plant contains the mind-altering chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other similar compounds. THC is classified as a psychotropic agent. (Psychotropic = a substance, usually a drug, which affects mental processes and alters perception, emotion, or behavior.)

Extracts– substances pulled out from other, neighboring substances by various chemical or physical means– can also be made from the Cannabis plant. Smoking marijuana extract is called “dabbing.” Marijuana extracts include hash oil or honey oil, wax or budder, and shatter.

Marijuana may be smoked in cigarettes (“joints”), cigars (“blunts”), pipes, or water pipes (”bongs”). I have never used marijuana in any form, but I have attended forensic pathology conferences where marijuana was burned to acquaint attendees with the smell of marijuana smoke in crime scenes. The smoke reminds me of burning pine needles. Other people report they smell hints of lemongrass, fire, wood, and even skunk spray.

Marijuana may be mixed in food (brownies, cookies, or candy) or may be brewed as a tea. THC-rich resins may be smoked or eaten. Popular marijuana-laced edibles may pose greater hazards. Because of slow digestion, people may consume larger quantities of THC if eaten, than if the drug is smoked.

The amount (percentage yield or “strength”) of THC in marijuana has been increasing steadily in recent years. For a person new to marijuana use, this increase in drug potency may mean exposure to higher THC levels with a greater chance of harmful reactions. Higher THC levels may explain the rise in emergency room visits involving marijuana use. To paraphrase an Oldsmobile advertising slogan of yesteryear, “Today’s weed is not your father’s weed.”

EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA– BRAIN: THC from smoked marijuana quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the THC to the brain and other organs. Eating or drinking prior to smoking slows– but does not eliminate– THC absorption.

Marijuana causes short-term and long-term effects in the brain.

Short-term effects include: THC, acting on specific brain cell receptors that react to natural THC-like chemicals, may result in:

> An emotional “high,” which is a major reason people use this drug

> Altered senses, such as, seeing brighter colors

> Altered sense of time

> Changes in mood

> Impaired body movement or memory

> Difficulty in thinking and problem-solving

> Hallucinations and delusions (higher doses)

> Psychosis (especially with regular use of high-potency marijuana)

Long-term effects include:

> When marijuana use begins in teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and may affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Researchers are still studying whether these changes are permanent (lifelong).

Research highly suggests, and may conclude for some disorders, that marijuana use leads to earlier onset and worsening symptoms of psychosis in people with genetic risk factors for such disorders (including schizophrenia) as well as other mental illnesses and self-harm, including suicidal thoughts and behaviors. We are seeing increased mayhem in our society (school shootings, for example). The media and others try to excuse this violence as being due to mental “illness” of the shooter. (We would not want to punish a mentally ill person for his/ her criminal behavior, although mental illness in and of itself does not define culpability.) Is it possible that this “mental illness” of domestic terrorists may be self-inflicted due to marijuana use? If America really tried to eliminate, as much as possible, the availability of such drugs as marijuana, would Americans’ “mental illness” and domestic terrorism acts fall?

> Kids who start smoking marijuana heavily in their teen years lose an average of eight (8) IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities do not fully return, even after stopping the drug use in adulthood. Teenage marijuana usage coupled with our declining (failing) schools mean that America’s future generation will be less capable for demanding jobs in the workforce. Poorer mental capabilities (impaired ability to think) coupled with poorer education (reduced background and experience) are a recipe for less capable workers. Future workers need to be better than present or past workers to meet changing  demands.

Talk to any local employer about his/ her staffing problems (poor math and reading skills, drug use, absenteeism, lack of work ethic, etc.), and you may walk away saddened and alarmed at America’s future. We turn to China and other Asian nations for our goods. Chinese products are cheaper and abundantly available, but they may be inferior in quality, the environment is more polluted, slave/ child labor may be employed, and profits may build up the Chinese military.

Strengthening China’s military is a reason to avoid buying “Made in China” products. In the 1930s, Americans wondered why Japan was intent on buying American scrap iron. On December 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor, the answer became all too clear how Japan would use our scrap iron. American generals and politicians always fight the last war, but may not prepare adequately for the next war. China’s Xi Xinping surely is plotting daily how to defeat America. America’s Biden busies himself eating chocolate chip ice cream, taking weekly vacations to the Delaware beach, and speechifying about those pesky MAGA Republicans. I feel safe.

EFFECTS OF MARIJUANA– OTHER ORGANS: Marijuana adversely affects other organs, including:

> Respiratory tract: Marijuana smoke irritates the respiratory tract (lungs).  People who smoke marijuana frequently can have the same breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco– daily cough, excessive sputum (phlegm) production, more frequent lung illness, and higher risk of lung infections.

> Heart: Marijuana accelerates the heart rate for up to three hours after smoking. This effect (tachycardia) may increase the chance of myocardial infarction (heart attack).

> Reproduction: One study found that one-fifth of pregnant women tested positive for marijuana. This actual rate was much higher than the self-admitted rate of use of the drug. This discrepancy indicates that self-reported rates of marijuana (“Do you smoke marijuana?”) is not an accurate measure of marijuana use and under-reports marijuana use during pregnancy. Yes, a drug abuser will lie about her drug use, even if her unborn baby’s life and health are compromised. Shamefully, some nonmedical personnel at marijuana dispensaries recommend marijuana to pregnant women for the nausea and vomiting of  morning sickness. Medical personnel strongly advise not to use marijuana for morning sickness.

Marijuana adversely affects male fertility (makes men less capable of impregnating their spouses).

Marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight and increased risk of both brain and behavioral problems in babies. If a pregnant woman uses marijuana, the drug may affect certain developing parts of the fetus’ brain. It is tragic to see newborn infants born to drug-addicted mothers. These helpless babies are born with their mothers’ addiction. Children exposed to marijuana in the womb have an increased risk of later-life problems with attention, memory, and problem-solving, when compared to unexposed children.

I have a friend who suffered morning sickness during her pregnancy. Her husband supplied her with numerous marijuana cigarettes to control the nausea. Her child was born with a beautiful face and, it turned out, a brilliant mind. But, the baby had horrific, permanent, crippling, even life-threatening anomalies. I will not describe these anomalies in this RR to protect the anonymity of my friend.

Moderate amounts of THC are excreted into the breast milk of nursing mothers. With regular use, THC can reach amounts in breast milk that could affect the baby’s developing brain. Recent research suggests an increased risk of preterm (premature) births. The obstetrician’s goal is to keep the baby in the womb as long as possible to encourage good body weight and, more importantly, good  function from mature lungs.

> Gastrointestinal tract: Some users develop extreme nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.

> Nervous system: Long-term marijuana use has been linked to mental illness, including: hallucinations, paranoia, worsening of symptoms in schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and impulses (especially in teens).

> Death: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cites hundreds of medical reports of serious illnesses, including death, associated with vaping marijuana products.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES: Aldous Huxley was an English writer and philosopher. At the University of California, Berkeley, in a 1962 speech, “The Ultimate Revolution,” Huxley predicted: ‘”There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

Huxley foresaw in 1962  the degradation of our society– the final revolution– by pharmacologic (drug) forces. But, the Apostle John foresaw the collapse of society due to drugs in AD 90-96. “Drugs” comes from the Greek pharmakeia (transliterated, pharmakeia || pronounced, far-mak-I-ah ). Bible translators may translate this word as “sorcery,” which brings to mind magic arts. We recognize from the pharma- root that pharmakeia refers to drugs, not the quaint notion of sorcery.

Questions: Both the possession and distribution of marijuana are illegal under federal law– the Controlled Substances Act. Federal law makes it illegal to use, possess, grow, and sell marijuana. There is no exception for either the medical or recreational use of marijuana. Disregarding federal law, numerous states have legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational use.

Why are many state lawmakers intent on legalizing marijuana? Have they knowingly or unknowingly come to Huxley’s same conclusion? That conclusion is: Citizens who use drugs, as Huxley warned, “will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods.” We are removing incentives for citizens to work through a variety of generous welfare programs. Many citizens who do work are impaired by alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs.

We increasingly rely on slave and child labor from China and other Asian countries for our goods. Able-bodied Americans who do not work because of welfare disincentives not to work or drug impairment become dependent upon the government for their livelihood. The Apostle Paul warned us to work for our living (2 Thessalonians 3:10): For even when we were with you, we would give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.  America, R.I.P.

The Revelation prophesies “sorcery” (drug abuse from Greek pharmakeia or its grammatical spelling variations) being associated with the end of the Age in two verses:

> (Revelation 9:21): And they did not repent and turn away from their murders or their sorceries [pharmakeion] or their sexual immorality or their stealing.

> (Revelation 18;23): And the light of a lamp shall never shine in you [Babylon the Great] again! And the voice of the bridegroom and bride shall never be heard in you again! For your businessmen were the tycoons of the world,/for all the nations were deceived by your sorcery [pharmakeia]!

Huxley, the Apostle John, and others have predicted/ prophesied, with complete accuracy, that our society will degenerate, as drug use flourishes.

One-hundred Bible verses regarding use of alcohol and drugs have been compiled in: https://www.openbible.info/topics/drugs_and_alcohol . These verses may be succinctly summarized in a single word; “Don’t.” (Don’t start. Don’t continue, if started.)

We might wonder why God would permit mind-altering drugs to exist. We could also ask why God permits any sin to exist. The answer is that a human has free will, and he/ she decides whether to obey or disobey God. The reward for overcoming disobedience (overcoming sin) is eternal life in Heaven.

I would never presume to speak for God. I wonder, though, if these substances are allowed to exist as a test. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was placed in the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Chavvah (Eve) were told not to eat its fruit. An extreme penalty was attached with failure to follow God’s command. You know the story from Genesis. This couple disobeyed God, and we have all suffered from that time. Could it be that mind-altering drugs are modern humans’ forbidden fruit? Could it be that these drugs are a test to determine if we will obey or disobey God?

CONCLUSION: I will have more to say about popular drug use in next Sunday’s RR. Until then, Shalom and Maranatha.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sun4 June 202315th of Sivan, 5783

Nu 8:1-14 Jer 25 Dan 2 1 Co 8 (Mk 10:1-31)