Former Pastor Expresses Liberal View on Marijuana

April 29th, 2009 by Erin

Ben Cole

A compassionate outlook on marijuana use… from a pastor?

An essay written for the Associated Baptist Press by Benjamin Cole, former pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Arlington outlines Cole’s thoughts on what should be done about marijuana laws. His opinions are surprisingly (and refreshingly) liberal.

He begins his essay with:

Can anything good come out of Mexico?

Forgetting about the delicious carnitas burritos that have more often than not satisfied my voracious munchies, the drug trafficking through Mexico is becoming an issue that is keeping many Americans awake at night. Agreeing that there are two sides to the subject, Cole wants to have a serious discussion about the “War on Drugs”.

Cole suggests that “a way forward exists in the debate whereby society can generally discourage marijuana usage without the full force of criminal statute.”

More than 30 times the number of soldiers who have died in the Iraq war since Obama took office have been killed in the Mexican drug wars, undoubtedly increasing the number of politicians (both Dems and Reps) that are looking to change our nation’s laws regarding marijuana.

Cole outlines his four basic approaches regarding the federal policy issue of cannabis possession; the first being the complete legalization of marijuana, provided there are regulations on production and distribution, as well as the taxes that would ultimately generate much needed federal revenues.

His second idea is to decriminalize the possession of cannabis; imposing small fines rather than prison sentences. This would generate revenue while still discouraging marijuana use.

The third approach is to completely declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance (why we haven’t done this already, I have no idea), which would reduce investigations and prosecutions.

Fourth and foremost, the laws could remain in place and the federal government could easily choose not to enforce them. This would result in the laws simply dying based on universal neglect, but would also bring up a number of possible loopholes and problems.

Cole then points out that the distinction needs to be made between personal freedom and commercial vice, and many say that marijuana use should be an individual choice. He encourages Americans to make educated moral distinctions between personal cannabis use and mass production resulting in significant profit, as well as more severe penalties.

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