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Changing Attitudes of Marijuana: What One Ex-Vangelical Found Out


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In 2017, I tried my first edible. I was with a friend in Portland, and they offered me one as we made dinner together. In what I saw as an act of rebellion and defiance of my conservative evangelical upbringing, I agreed, chewing the fruity gummy with an equal mix of excitement and anxiety.

While we had originally planned on going out that evening, my friend and I ended up staying in, wrapped up in blankets and staring, stoned, at a YouTube compilation of makeup tutorials.

When I woke up the next morning, I asked my friend, “Is that it?” I was slightly disappointed that my act of rebellion was a drug that made me go to bed early and sleep better than I had in years.

Still, it was a positive experience, and I felt somehow freer having discovered that something so off-limits was so banal.

Would My Parents Find Out?

Even though I had a nice time, I was still so anxious that my parents would find out. I was still living at home, and I spent a majority of my drive back to Spokane wondering if my mom was going to smell it on me, like parents did when teens came home from parties on TV. (I was neither a teen nor coming home from a party, and, if you recall from the first paragraph, I didn’t smoke.) I feared my family’s reactions and vowed not to say anything about the edible unless asked directly. 

I needn’t have worried. I told them about the other parts of my trip to Portland, about how my friend was doing, and especially about our journey to Powell’s. I was always a good kid and a good, if annoying, teenager, so in my young adulthood my parents never thought to ask, “Did you consume marijuana over the weekend?” 

Marijuana for Pain Management

In recent years, I’ve started consuming edibles for pain management. I’ve dealt with painful periods ever since I started having them, and weed has been a powerful tool in my arsenal to keep my chronic pain in check.

After struggling every month for over ten years, I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis this year. Now I’m able to access certain medications that are supposed to target and minimize my pain, but over the past few years, edibles have been the best medicine.  

The Conservative Pushback

I’ve often wondered about the conservative pushback against marijuana since I first tried it. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. At the time I was in high school and had no strong opinion about it. Every year it seems more and more attitudes are changing in favor of legal marijuana, including mine.

Yet there is still a loud contingent of religious conservatives who believe consuming marijuana is sinful, and a large portion of those believe it should never have been decriminalized in the first place.

I decided to research the topic and find out two things: 1) have attitudes toward cannabis softened since 2012 on a population level, and 2) have conservative Christians’ attitudes softened too? 

Changing Attitudes

A 2011 Pew Research survey showed that American adults were evenly split on the issue. Those under 30 favored legalization by a slight margin, 54% to 46%.

However, in the intervening years since Washington and Colorado led the charge to legalize marijuana, the policy change has become very popular. According to a November 2022 Pew Research Center article, more than 88% of American adults believe that using marijuana should be legal either recreationally or medically, compared with only one in ten adults who stated cannabis should be illegal in all contexts.

While the breakdowns of these percentages change slightly based on age, political affiliation and ethnicity, I was eager to see how they might change or stay the same when taking religious affiliation into consideration.

I believed conservative religious groups, like evangelical Protestants and Catholics, would have low approval ratings for the use of recreational and/or medical marijuana from 2012 to now.

Indeed, the Public Religion Research Institute showed in 2013 that half of religious young adults (18-29) favored legalizing marijuana, compared with their elders (65 and older) at 22%.

The same survey found that white evangelical Protestants “are the only group in which a majority (58%) believe that new laws do indeed represent the ‘moral decline of America.’” 

Yet I was surprised to learn that in a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, 44% of white evangelical Protestants supported legalizing cannabis for both medical and recreational use, and 43% supported legalization for medical use. Only 14% said it should not be legalized for any reason. Catholics had a very similar statistical breakdown, and no other religiously affiliated demographic showed levels as low as these. 

So, what now?

I won’t be indulging with my parents or many of my Christian friends in the near future, but it is interesting to know that attitudes have shifted so drastically in the ten or so years since cannabis was legalized. Those of us who do partake can lift a blunt or a gummy and toast the winds of change.

Mackenzie Draper
Mackenzie Draper
A self-described "Ex-vangelical," Mackenzie Draper loves to expand her spiritual and theological horizons on her travels, particularly to the bookstore. She grew up a pastor's kid and missionary kid living in Bosnia and Serbia as child and then moved back to Spokane her freshman year of high school. In the interest of saving time, she decided to have a crisis of sexuality, as well as a crisis of faith, around the time she graduated from Spokane Falls Community College and began attending Gonzaga University. Draper has now come out as a lesbian and has the most amazing partner and life she could imagine. While she still wrestles with faith and the ramifications conservative Evangelical theology has on her relationship to family, she is a passionate, lifelong learner and is devoted to living well and doing good in her world. You can find her in various thrift stores around town scouring the bookshelves or huddled over a crochet project trying to count stitches.




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Brian Kelly

Legalize federally now. What’s legal to possess and consume in nearly half of The United States should not make you a criminal in states still being governed by woefully ignorant prohibitionist politicians.

Cannabis consumers in all states deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

Plain and simple!

Legalize Nationwide Federally Now!

It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national cannabis policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-cannabis, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

Politicians who continue to demonize Cannabis, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Cannabis possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through cannabis home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose cannabis, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

The People have spoken! Get on-board with Cannabis Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

The “War on Cannabis” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Cannabis”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. Especially now, due to Covid-19. It’s a no brainer.

The Prohibition of Cannabis has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records. Especially, if they happen to be of the “wrong” skin color or they happen to be from the “wrong” neighborhood. Which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

Cannabis is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less cannabis “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

Cannabis Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

Legalize Nationwide Federally Now! Support Each and Every Cannabis Legalization Initiative!

Joe Butler

Thanks! Good insight.

Charles McGlocklin

As a consumer of drugs, Marijuana being my staple, and growing my own in the 70’s, quitting when God gave me the victory over drugs and alcohol in the early 80’s and then becoming a drug/alcohol counselor in the early 90’s, my opinion about drugs has been rather consistant.
The war on drugs is financed by and benefits the drug cartels by keeping prices and profits high.
Tobacco is the #1 gateway drug. Abusers of all drugs and alcohol are twice as likely to use tobacco as those that use marijuana alone.
Drugs, all drugs, legal and illegal, prescription or over the counter, tobacco, alcohol and caffeine included, change our moods, perceptions, body chemistry and have varying degrees of side effects and withdrawal.
Whatever drug you use and whatever reason you use it for, your body will try to balance your body back to homeostasis (what it considers “normal”).
Heavy caffeine consumers know that if they were to go “cold turkey” they will have terrible headaches. Why? because the body makes chemicals to wash (metabolize) the caffeine, which it considers a poison, out of the system. The headache is from the chemicals the body makes in anticipation of caffeine consumption that did not happen.
Opiates mimic our endorphens that regulate pain tolerance. Artificially introduce our own hormones and our body shuts down its own factories. Stop use of opiates and the body has to restart the factories and that takes time. There is nothing that can stop the pain until we artificially supply or allow the body to recover.
The more the body changes to counter the drugs effect, the greater the degree of withdrawal and the greater the chance of addiction.

I used marijuana to relax. When I stopped using it I became more anxious than I ever was before which increased the desire to continue to use.
We always get the opposite effect when we stop using.

Hopefully this analysis will make all of us better consumers.

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