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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Medical Marijuana

Dear Bro Jo,

I love your blog and have asked you many questions. In past questions, I have mentioned medical issues, I have been sick for 5 months with chronic pain and other things due to an auto immune disease. I am unable to have many foods and have refused to take pain killers such as Norco and hydro-codeine. Due to the pain they are now looking into alternate treatments such as acupuncture and medical cannabis since nothing is working.

As an LDS youth, you can see my issue. What do I do?

I suffer from a phobia of needles due to a wrongly done spinal tap and blood tap epidural.

What is your view on use of medical marijuana?


Lost and Confused

Dear Lost,

If a member of my family was in a similar situation, I would counsel them not to smoke marijuana for medical purposes. I feel that violates the Word of Wisdom, and I think meeting God with a clear conscience, having obeyed his commandments and enduring the pain is much better than the alternative.

- Bro Jo


Anonymous said...

I tend to disagree with this one, especially since many church members use prescription medication that is far more addictive and powerful that marijuana. I think this is one of the cases where the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law.

I am reminded of the old joke: "A man is stranded in the middle of the ocean without a boat and knows that he will drown soon, so he prays to God to save him. A boat comes along and asks him if he needs help, but he says God will save him. Another boat comes and asks again and again he says that God will save him. Finally he drowns. When he meets God, he asks, "Why didn't you save me?" God replies, "I sent you two boats!"

If you are to serve others, you need to be healthy and as pain-free as possible, and I think many church members would agree that medical marijuana may be appropriate in your situation.

Dave Johnston said...

One need not be "pain free", or anything close to it, to be of service.

I'm only 41, but I can't remember the last time I had a "pain free" day.

We live in a time when drugs and alochol are extolled for their "medicinal benefits". Even if true, and often not true, those benefits do not overwrite the word of God.

I don't mean to be unreasonalbe here; I believe in medicine and pain mangagment, but the jsutification of increasing the use of recreational drugs bothers me a great deal.

Further, two things:

Just because other people take something, that doesn't make it "okay"


Just because something is a commonly prescribed medicine, it can stil be addictive and harmful, and thus treated very carefully.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree, but it's pretty silly to compare your ordinary pains and aches to someone with chronic pain and an auto-immune disorder.

I used prescription medicine as an example of something that's much more addictive and dangerous than marijuana that is used frequently, but we don't see it as "against the WoW." Ultimately, it's just your interpretation of the WoW and I interpret it differently. The scripture passage says nothing on drugs and from what I've read For the Strength of Youth pamphlet it discusses "hard drugs," but doesn't have any additional information on medical marijuana at all.

I would advise this person to do what is most effective and feels best for them to be able to lead the most positive and active life they can.

Anonymous said...

My mom lives in constant debilitating pain due to fibromialgia(sp). The pain is such that it has literally handicapped her beyond her years. She is currently in her 50's and moves like my grandmother who is nearing 90. She has tried several approaches to manage the pain, but none of them have worked in the long term. Never, though, would she consider taking marijuana.

Dave Johnston said...

With respect, the previous statement about marijuana not being "as addictive" is completely wrong.

Further, without question, proponents in my country of the legalization of marijuana are using the pain of others to mask their true purpose, which is to increase its access and availability for recreational use.

- Bro Jo

Dave Baird said...

Undoubtedly, cannabis is a plant, and plants have their purpose. In reference to section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants we often don't see explicit mention of all possible plants and herbs we may see used in natural medicine. The only precise mention is that of "wholesome herbs". I would not consider marijuana as such.

Perhaps the greatest advice on the matter is found in the last verses of the same section (see verses 18 through 21). If you haven't sought out a blessing for your illness or in particular for the pain you are experiencing, seek one out. There is a great comfort in the very personal and sacred nature of the intimate blessings of the Holy Ghost.

Anonymous said...

I know of one LDS lady who suffered from cancer, but had allergies to the pain medication. She used a topical ointment that contained a form of marijuana. It was very effective without being addictive. So maybe it's the way it's applied. Tobacco is mentioned specifically for topical medical uses, but not for smoking. Just a thought.

-Different Anon Than Above

Dave Johnston said...

Excellent point!

- Bro Jo

Alex said...

My understanding of the Word of Wisdom is that we are not to use drugs for recreation. Using cannabis to treat chronic pain after having looked into other options is hardly recreation.

Marijuana is not physically addictive (although people can have mental addictions to literally anything) so I would say that as long as it is being strictly used for medicinal purposes, Lost and Confused would not be violating the Word of Wisdom by exploring this option.

I would advise Lost and Confused to seek a priesthood blessing and carefully pray and ponder about the matter, then try to follow the guidance of Spirit.

Dave Johnston said...


You're wrong about the addictive properties of marijuana, and if its smoked it is absolutely a violation of the Word of Wisdom.

Following the Spirit and seeking counsel from leadership is always a good idea.

- Bro Jo

Dave Johnston said...


Upon receiving a well-though out comment on this post from Lauren I spoke to one of my mentors and Church leaders about the topic. Rather than post Lauren's comment here (she makes some pretty good points), I'll post it separately on Friday, October 7th.

Thank you for all of your comments, and thank you for reading.

- Bro Jo

Catherine Ann said...

My mother has an autoimmune disease & will not take marijuana. She could get Oxycontin with how bad her pain & brain damage is. Don't take marijuana! Nothing is worth breaking the Lord's commandments. It may take away some of the pain on this earth, but think of how much pain it will cause in the next life.

Catherine Ann said...

My mother also has an autoimmune disease & would never break the WoW to dull the pain. It's just not worth it to her. She would rather handle the pain in this life than deal with spiritual pain in the next life.

Anonymous said...

afaik... i think something like this should be taken to the bishop and other church leaders. after all, abortion is considered under very specific circumstances and when the Lord and church leaders are involved. dear lost and confused, talk to your bishop about this. if its something that will help you, the Lord will let you know if its ok. (like nephi killing laban... killing is against the Lord's law...but the Lord in fact told nephi to do it)