Every so often, a story comes along that needs no in-depth prologue, masterfully written introduction, or Pulitzer-Prize-winning lead-in, and this is it. Marijuana legalization is coming to Illinois in 2020, and it will directly impact the state in ways we can only begin to imagine (including generating potentially $170 million in tax revenues). We are witnessing the impact of legalization in nearly a dozen other states and the District of Columbia. That number will probably continue to increase in the next election cycle.
But as the world seeks to engage this reality head-on, many pastors, religious leaders, congregational communities, and people of faith in general struggle to make sense of it all. How do you agree with an illegal drug now becoming legal? What do you tell your children? How do you reconcile the ethical use of controlled substances? What do you preach in 2020 when folks show up smelling like they were practicing their “new freedoms” on the way to church? And I know well the challenges as a clergyperson because I too have struggled to make sense of marijuana for nearly all my life!
I don’t profess to have all the answers but I do believe there is more to be said. So I’d like to raise three questions and recommend three courses of action to take as we approach cannabis legalization.