Battling drug abuse
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This fall, voters in Nevada and Colorado will decide whether to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. This is not a new issue in the United States. Eight other states have either passed initiatives or their legislatures have approved laws that liberalize regulations regarding the possession or the cultivation of marijuana. In parts of the land, some public officials recently have spoken in favor of the outright legalization of drugs.
One of the reasons the Lord gave the 89th section of the Doctrine and
Covenants was to provide a health law that protects Latter-day Saints
Toward the end of his mortal life, the prophet Lehi gave important advice to his sons. He told them to "shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men." (2 Nephi 6:13.) His use of the imagery of chains is significant. Chains keep people from moving freely. Spiritual chains keep people from feeling the Spirit. Spiritual chains cause confusion and affect the mind's ability to reason and discern truth. No wonder Satan is so interested in peddling a societal acceptance of marijuana, alcohol and other drugs under the guise of their supposed medicinal value.
Every effort should be made to relieve the awful pain felt by people suffering from terminal illnesses, but medical science already has many ways of doing this. Researchers are close to developing medication that would use some of the Cannabis plant's pain relieving qualities without altering the mental states of users, as marijuana does.
Writing recently in the Sun-Sentinel of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Bernie Diaz, the director of communications for the not-for-profit Miami Coalition For a Safe and Drug-Free Community, summed up the dangers of so-called medical marijuana:
"For one, medical marijuana legalization will in all likelihood lead to abuse of the law, as has already been well-documented in the Netherlands and has recently led to a local California city council initiative allowing residents to grow and use their own medical marijuana without a prescription. Quite logically, medical legalization and the cultural acceptance sure to follow perhaps resulting in eventual full-scale legalization will lead to increased drug abuse, obliterating the hard work in cutting drug consumption by half over the last 15 years." (Sun Sentinel, Aug. 28, 2000.)
In the Netherlands, where drugs were legalized a quarter century ago, consumption has increased dramatically. Writing in the publication "Foreign Affairs" last year, author Larry Collins presented a frank and well-documented look at the Dutch experiment. He found a nation that has become the drug trafficking center of Europe, where drug use, particularly of marijuana, has increased and where dealers have developed a new, potent form of the drug called "Nederwiet" that didn't exist before legalization. Between 1984 and 1996, marijuana use among people ages 18 to 25 in Holland increased by well over 200 percent.
Modern prophets have been unequivocal on the subject of the use of
drugs. President Spencer W. Kimball quoted from the Church's position and
said, "As to drugs
He went so far as to warn Latter-day Saints to use all kinds of drugs, even mild and legal ones, sparingly. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, page 208.)
The apostle Paul taught that the human body is a temple, meaning it is a sacred place where the spirit of God can dwell, and he strongly warned against defiling it. (1 Corinthians 3:16).
It is hardly a matter for Latter-day Saints to take lightly, nor should they unwittingly allow drug abuse to proliferate in the land.