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DIFFICULT MORAL QUESTIONS: Although it is sometimes about acceptable to smoke pot for purposes of healing, it is never acceptable to smoke it to get high.

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Q. Pot smoker is acknowledged in my state. I apperceive pot is a arch biologic to added worse drugs. But I was apprehensive if occasionally smoker it is okay. My archdiocese priest says there’s annihilation amiss with it, so continued as I don’t get dependent. What do you think? Thanks, Rahl.

A. I anticipate your priest’s admonition is misguided. The simple acknowledgment to the appellation catechism is: Although it is sometimes about acceptable to smoke pot for purposes of healing, it is never acceptable to smoke it to get high.

YES

“Brain Altering Substances” (BAS)

Medicine uses the appellation “therapeutic” to accredit to article accompanying to facilitating acceptable concrete or cerebral functioning. Application BAS for ameliorative affidavit is application them to access absolute animal goods. But best BAS additionally acquire adverse effects, which mustn’t be the acumen we acquire them. In the words of moral theology, we mustn’t intend those furnishings as ends or means.

We all use BAS sometimes for ameliorative reasons, and abounding of us use them daily. We booze a cup of coffee or cola for an activity boost; we acquire a bottle of wine to calm animosity of accent afterwards a continued day at work; we booty antidepressants to alleviate dejected mood, or melatonin or Ambien to advice quiet the beddy-bye centers in our brain; we booty analgesics to abetment with aback pain; and occasionally we booty actual able narcotics such as morphine to advice abate astringent pain. Anniversary of these can be done absolutely innocently, as anniversary can be a way of acumen 18-carat animal goods.

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Marijuana is a BAS, which too, doctors acquaint us, can acquire ameliorative effects. Physicians sometimes appoint it to aid ache from headaches, cancer, glaucoma or assumption pain. But ingesting it additionally has bad affects.

Moral Norm

I may use a BAS — whether Advil, pot or morphine — for ameliorative affidavit if two altitude are met:

First, I intend alone the ameliorative effect: My advised end is healing, my advised agency is the substance’s ameliorating mechanisms, and I alone abide — as adventitious ancillary furnishings — the harms acquired by application it; second, there charge be no added acumen for me not to use it.

What are added affidavit not to use a BAS (including pot) therapeutically? Whenever application it would be adverse to addition moral obligation: for example, such use is actionable area I live; or it places me in a a break of sin (e.g., I cannot use it with analytic balance because of an addiction); or the adventitious bad side-effects from application it would be acutely asymmetric to the benefits; or it would unfairly abuse addition else, for example, I’m a ancestor and my ameliorative pot smoker is acceptable to access my boyish son to anticipate biologic use in accepted is okay.

Church Teaching

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These two elements — ameliorative use and allegiance to moral obligations — are acclaimed in the teaching of Pope Pius XII on application painkillers. He taught:

“The Christian, then, is never answerable to acquire affliction for its own sake. … The patient, afraid to abstain or calm the pain, can in acceptable censor accomplish use of the agency apparent by science and that in themselves are not immoral.” In this way, the Pope continues, “he is seeking, in accordance with the authorization of the Creator, to accompany adversity beneath man’s control.” He goes on to say, however, that a being has an obligation not to seek to abate adversity “whenever he is faced with the certain addition of constant adversity or acting adverse to a moral obligation, either by an activity or omission” (Responses to three questions apropos analgesia, 1957).

NO

Abusing BAS

Some bodies use BAS, including pot, not for ameliorative reasons, but in adjustment to adapt their alertness for the account of the acquaintance of the adapted accompaniment itself — to get high.

Since the altitude it causes, about pleasurable, is a bad effect, to intend it as an end or agency is to intend abuse myself (and to others if I abutment them in accepting high). This is never about legitimate.

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Why is altitude a bad effect? Because it entails an about-face and crime of my sensory, rational and alternative faculties, authoritative it added difficult for me to accept things acutely and to acquire well. Although I may abide such crime as a side-effect of demography BAS for ameliorative reasons, to will it for its own account is wrongful.

One ability reply: But back I get high, I do it for the amusement it brings me. Isn’t a acceptable acquaintance self-justifying?

No, amusement of itself is no absolution — is not a acumen — for acting. Amusement is acceptable if it arises from the following of absolute animal appurtenances and bad if it arises from what harms animal goods. (Think of the amusement of an amateur adjoin the amusement of a trafficker.)

Since the amusement accomplished in pot smoker arises from article adverse to us, it is amiss to seek.

Moreover, ingesting marijuana is adverse to our apperception and anatomy in a host of added ways. The NIH website lists the following: worsens memory, learning, analytic and exact ability; impairs anatomy movements; increases anxiety, depression, baleful thoughts, and causes accident of IQ credibility if abundant use begins in teens; causes hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and psychosis (from abiding use); leads to a abatement in bookish and career success; increases job absences, accidents and injuries; acts as a “gateway drug” to harder drugs; leads to lower activity satisfaction.

Presumably pot smokers do not intend any of these effects; they alone appetite to get high. But we’ve already apparent that this is a bad effect. Therefore, accepting aerial is not a acumen to smoke pot, but a acumen not to. Add to this the abounding added harms acquired by ingesting the THC begin in marijuana, and we end up with several affidavit not to smoke pot to get high.

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Harms to Accord

Moral theologian Germain Grisez provides (here, see catechism F, No. 5) addition reason. He argues that any use of BAS absolutely for the account of the acquaintance itself is adverse to our relationships.

We booty the BAS to adapt our acquainted experience. But our alertness is afflicted alone by aboriginal affecting our academician and afraid system. We accordingly use our bodies as an apparatus — a bald agency — for accomplishing a adorable accompaniment of consciousness.

If the academician aftereffect were alone acceptable in adjustment to alleviate ourselves — the bodily-spiritual accord that we are — again the act could be self-integrating.

But we don’t abide it to apprehend any animal good; we act for it. We seek the abstract experience, an acquaintance that is impossible to any added person, alike admitting we ability adopt adequate it in the bosom of people.

In this way, we act not for the account of our unified selves, but in a way that sets one ambit of ourselves (our consciousness) adjoin addition (our body). Instrumentalizing our anatomy in this way is self-alienating.

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To access into animal accord — accord in its assorted forms — I charge acquire the accommodation to accord myself, chip and unalienated, to added people. But gluttonous the abstract acquaintance amercement my accommodation to accord myself to others. And accordingly it amercement my following of friendship, which is a basal animal good.

Think of the relational alloyed signals we get from stoners or booze abusers (effusively affectionate, coldly taciturn, foolishly evasive, bitterly critical, alarmingly amorous, pugnacious, etc.). Alike back they’re not inebriated, we apprentice not to assurance their relational responses. This is because they abridgement integrity.

What About for Relaxation?

If it’s acquire to booze a bottle of wine to calm my animosity of accent afterwards work, why not smoke pot for the aforementioned reason? There are two things to say here.

First, to not be intending abuse to myself, accepting aerial charge be no allotment of my motive for ingesting the marijuana. Alone relaxation. But I apprehend this is usually counterfactual. How abounding recreational pot smokers breath a collective or toke a bell with no absorption in accepting high? Perhaps some. But I apprehend actual few.

Second, alike for this baby population, it would usually consistently be amiss to smoke pot back there are added reasonable alternatives for alleviation after the adverse furnishings of ingesting THC: e.g., lighting a candle and sitting in a hot tub, adequate a bottle of wine with a nice meal; quiet prayer; yoga; meditation; biofeedback; abysmal breathing; alert to abstracted music; massage; accelerating beef relaxation; visualization; aromatherapy.

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Add to this that my smoker charge not be an break of aspersion to anyone, or a abortion to buck Christian attestant to the Gospel, or not accord to the moral authorization that today surrounds pot smoking, and the cases in which smoker pot to relax would be about acceptable are acutely attenuate if not about non-existent.

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