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Marijuana in Church? Understanding Prop 64

Marijuana in Church? Understanding Prop 64

Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson

Associate partner at ChurchWest.
Steve Robinson

Latest posts by Steve Robinson (see all)

Marijuana in Church? Probably Not.Marijuana in church? Probably not. But, whether you agree with it or not California voters overwhelmingly approved the passage of Proposition 64. The new law legalizes adult recreational use of marijuana. Depending on who you listen to the passage of this proposition will either set off a cataclysmic chain reaction of moral and social decay or it will have minimal effects on the lives of the vast majority of Californians who don’t use this particular form of entertainment.

Medically prescribed usage aside, can people have marijuana in church?

First of all, it is vitally important that we get a clearer understanding of exactly what this will mean.

In its purest form, this proposition allows adults 21 and over to use marijuana however they’d like in their homes or in licensed businesses. Private citizens may possess up to 28.5 grams (about an ounce) and grow up to six plants at their home as long as they’re not in public view. Additionally the state now has the authority to tax the cultivation and sale of the drug. Cities and counties can also impose their own taxes as they see fit. Driving and operating a motorized vehicle while under the influence is still against the law.

Many of the recent strains of marijuana that are being produced in laboratories today have an extremely potent level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal mind altering ingredient that naturally occurs in the glands of the marijuana plant. When ingested into the human body THC attaches itself mostly to the areas of the brain that are associated with memory, thinking, pleasure, coordination and time perception.

Edibles are also a growing phenomenon in the marijuana industry. They can be marketed as brownies, cookies and gummy bears. These products, when eaten, are metabolized by the liver, giving the user a much more intense high. Critics have argued that these products are exceptionally more dangerous because they look harmless.  Children are often the unintended victims and in worst case scenarios they have had to be rushed to the hospital.

So, now that you have the nuts and bolts, the question remains: how will recreational marijuana affect your church?

Design a compensation system that work for your unique ministry.It is very important that your ministry understands that you, as a church, have a First Amendment right to practice your faith as you see fit. Therefore you can make a public announcement, and enforce whatever your doctrinal stance is on this topic. Additionally, if you have employees, it is your right as an employer to have them randomly drug tested.

Ignorance on this rapidly growing industry is no excuse to not be prepared. Therefore train your staff on how to identify if someone is under the influence of an illicit substance. Remember, the key issue here is impairment while on campus – whether it is a volunteer, staff member, or visitor. Once staff identify that person they should know how to best handle the situation. People under the influence of mind altering drugs, like marijuana, can often be unpredictable. Special care should be taken to de-escalate any possible situation that may occur.

Last, be vigilant. Let your church know how and why you’re being proactive. Many times people are defensive if they don’t understand why you’re taking a certain approach. Be transparent, operate with grace, and show mercy. Ultimately let people know that you care.

What do you think? Is your ministry ready for recreational marijuana and its associated risk? What will your biggest challenge be? Tell us about it in the comments, below.

You can also talk to us any time about getting in touch with an ministry-based HR expert that can help you navigate the new law by calling 800-843-6054.

If talking on the phone’s not your thing we’re also available on Facebook or Twitter and you can ask your questions about the impact on ministry and staff from marijuana in church.