Canadian Bishops Condemn Recreational Cannabis Use

The Catholic Bishops of BC and Yukon say consuming recreational cannabis is a serious moral violation.

"In the Catholic tradition, the recreational use of a substance merely for its intoxicating effects, rather than therapeutically, is not permitted," said a letter signed by the Archbishop of Vancouver along with several bishops from BC and Yukon.

"Deliberate intoxication, whether through alcohol or marijuana, is wrong for several reasons," they claimed.

The Bishops are urging Canadians to carefully consider what it means to consume cannabis, stating that "the mere fact that an activity is made legal by the government does not automatically mean that it is morally acceptable."

One of the letter's signees - Greg Bittman, Bishop of Nelson - said his support of the message was motivated by his experiences with people struggling with drug addiction.

"Personally, I'm against it because I have dealt with people who have been addicted to marijuana and their lives are a train-wreck, and I've also dealt with people who are alcoholics," Bittman told Global News. "To use stuff that might impair our judgement or escape from reality, is that something we really should be doing?"

Bishop Bittman couldn't answer why the church isn't taking a similar stance against other intoxicating and addictive substances such as alcohol, though he did admit that liquor is also dangerous.

"We could say the same thing about alcohol in that it's addictive, it can impair your judgement, you can hurt yourself by drinking too much—or other people."

While the Bishops' letter takes aim at recreational cannabis, it also admits that there are "legitimate therapeutic uses" for the plant.

"This is no different than the use of any other medicine that helps promote health and wellbeing," the letter reads. "If an individual thinks that the use of cannabis may be helpful for a serious health reason, then that person should consult with a physician."

The big reservation the Bishops seem to have is combustion, saying that when medical marijuana is recommended by a doctor "alternatives to smoking are preferable."

This letter follows an early statement from Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops that similarly expressed disappointment about Canada's decision to repeal cannabis prohibition last October. 

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In the past few months, the stream of alarming news about the dangers of vaporizer cartridges has put some cannabis consumers on high alert. Since March, more than 2,000 people have gotten sick, and 40 people have died from illnesses related to vaping (VAPI, or vaping associated pulmonary injury). It is believed that the large majority of those who had become ill had used THC oil carts bought from illicit markets.

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