Catholic Bishops and Pope remain saying consuming marijuana is a sin
Bishops in Philippines ask for prudence in the debate about the use of medical marijuana legalization. The most liberal ones ask for caution as the country debates a “possible” legalization of medical cannabis; something that seems impossible under the government of President Duterte.
Last January, 2019, the Philippine House of Representatives passed House Bill (HB) No.6517, which even though is very restrictive, would eventually allow certain right to be treated with medical cannabis and the study of the medical abilities of the plant.
So far, cannabis is strictly prohibited in the country. It is considered a classified substance in the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Current President Duterte said he would never ever sign any bill legalizing the drug for medical purposes because he was convinced the people were going to use that “open door” as an excuse to cultivate marijuana for recreational purposes. These words seem quite hypocritical because the President Duterte said in December, last year, that he used sometimes marijuana to stay awake. But after saying this, he claimed he was simply joking.
The former President, who is now a house speaker, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, says she supports the possible law and recognized she eventually consumed cannabis in those countries where it was legal, in order to treat her chronic neck pain.
But, what says the Catholic Church in this country and the rest of the world?
The current president of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, has said Philippines don’t need a law to change the current cannabis status because since the 2002, the law allows using prohibited substances in “exceptional cases”.
Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio of the country’s military diocese said that any decision should be very prudent and based on medical research. He continued saying that if medical cannabis could benefit some patients who are suffering from medical conditions, then let them use it. However, he added that this shouldn’t be an open permit that doctors can use without prudence.
Already in a 2015 pastoral letter, the bishop stated that the use of medical cannabis could only be justified to alleviate some dying patients but only when any other option had been exhausted.
And if the situation about medical cannabis in Philippines is so closed minded in the Catholic Church, the situation is similar in many other places, even though it is officially legal.
For example, Illinois Catholic Bishops oppose marijuana legalization. The six bishops stated that they openly oppose legalization. They asked the lawmakers to declare illegal the cannabis, as Pope Francisco explained in 2014 when he said that prohibiting marijuana was a way to say yes to life, yes to love and yes to greater job opportunities. The Pope said there will be no room for any drug, including alcohol abuse, cannabis and any other form of addiction.
The bishops in Illinois think legalization will bring more problems to the country, which already abuses too many drugs. They keep saying there are many studies that show most addicts to hard drugs started with alcohol and cannabis.
They think it is very important to remember that the debate is not only about legalization of cannabis. The debate is also about its commercialization of a substance into an industry that will benefit the state and that the state must protect its citizens.
The bishops from Canada say that cannabis use can be legal, but remains being a sin. Consuming cannabis goes against the virtue of temperance and must be avoided, stated Msgr. Frank Leo, general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Catholic Catechism explains that we should avoid any kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco and medicine. Using any drug is a grave sin. This includes cannabis. Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said that recreational use of substances, including cannabis, allows people to escape the burdens and challenges of life. And this is sinful.
Terrence Prendergast also said that our bodies are ours to use. But it is not a good idea to use substances that produces harmful effects.
In 2017, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops declared that cannabis legalization was unwise and dangerous. According to the Conference, the risks of cannabis use are widely recognized. It can produce heart attack, respiratory and carcinogenic pathologies associated with tobacco smoke, and a multitude of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. And moreover, it is a door to other harder drugs. Legal cannabis will have ‘disastrous effects, Canadian bishops say.
Catholic Church and Pope Francisco have always expressed its disdain for the new changes in favor to cannabis legalization and they denounce the drug trade and even those who cultivate the marijuana seeds.
Addressing cannabis legalization today, when so many catholic countries are legalizing pot, is a desperate arm flail from the Catholic Church.