False Prophecies about Cannabis
Richard Holloway was an apostate Scottish Episcopal Church Bishop of Edinburgh from 1986 to 2000 and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church from 1992 to 2000. He thought himself in the tradition of Anglican agnostic bishops such as John Robinson and David Jenkins who rejected the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of Jesus. Holloway also rejected the truthfulness of the Bible and departed from the Christian Church’s doctrine and ethics. In 1999 he turned his attention to the issue of legalising cannabis. No surprise that he was all for it. He was quoted in The Guardian on the 17th August that year as follows :
"For anyone under 45 it is just a part of growing up," he said. "Older people see no problem with their preferred drugs, tobacco and alcohol, while our young people have normalised the use of hash." The bishop, head of the Anglican church in Scotland, called for heroin to be made available on prescription, cannabis legalised and a royal commission set up to consider whether drug use should continue to be outlawed. To a rapturous reception at the Edinburgh books festival, where he was launching his new book, Godless Morality, Bishop Holloway said a dangerous kind of fundamentalism had grown around the use of certain substances. "What gives our society the power to say that this vegetable is bad and this one is not? The two most dangerous drugs in our lives, the ones that kill the most people, are legal ones”. Holloway attacked what he described as the hysterical attitude towards drugs.
Extraordinarily he was supported in this contention by the Free Church of Scotland’s Reverend Professor Donald Macleod. He was professor of systematic theology at the Free Church College in Edinburgh from 1978 to 2011 and was Principal from 1999 to 2010. Writing in the West Highland Free Press (BBC News, 19 August), he described current drugs policies as hopeless failures. He said they had not reduced demand, supply, crime or the number of deaths linked to drugs. "I do think it is quite illogical and hypocritical to be trying to criminalise cannabis and at the same time to be advertising and indeed packaging alcohol." He believed the list of tolerated drugs should be reviewed as part of a thorough policy rethink. Donald Macleod rejected the argument that using soft drugs leads to hard drugs because this omits alcohol and tobacco.
Both were responding to Westminster’s Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy's call for a Royal Commission to investigate drugs legislation. Charles Kennedy died on 1 June 2015 at his home in Fort William from haemorrhage due to his alcoholism at the age of 55. Why were these men advocating substance abuse? Holloway was predictable enough. He rejected all things Christian, excoriated Christian believers and placed himself outside the Church while continuing to take a salary and a pension later in life. But Macleod? He was a gifted Christian preacher and writer, a popular and well respected communicator beyond his own denomination. He was admittedly regarded with suspicion by some of his own Church’s stricter interpreters of the Faith. Holloway was a serial self-promoter who went out of his way to offend. Macleod was a more deeply committed Christian whose broader appeal was due to the quality of his mind. He and Holloway were strange bedfellows on the cannabis issue.
No Christian should have been advocating the use of mind altering drugs. Christianity is a clear minded living relationship with Jesus Christ. The true Christian is a sanctified individual, saved and strengthened to live without recourse to artificial stimulants. No Christian spiritual commentator in nearly 2000 years has approved of the use of drugs. On the contrary, Francis de Sales (1567 - 1622) for example, in his book ‘Garden of the Soul’ ‘offered a manual for the penitent...by way of spiritual exercises and instructions for Christians who (living in the world) aspire to devotion’. For him, the soul is to be tended as a garden. It is certainly not to be a cannabis factory. Jesus sanctified his disciples, fitting them to become apostles. ‘You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.’ (John 15 : 3) The word ‘clean’ of course is also used today of those who have kicked the drug habit. The giving of the Holy Spirit described in Acts 2 : 1 -13 enables the Christian to rise above the need for drugs, being inspired by the presence of the living God within.
I was prompted to post these thoughts by an article in ‘The Times’ on Saturday June 11 2022 headed “Relaxed rules on cannabis are ‘psychosis time bomb’” by Keiran Southern writing in Los Angeles, America. Here are some extracts. ‘The mass legalisation of cannabis has led to a mental illness “time bomb”...after the emergence of super-strength marijuana products….Many have levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, as high as 90%...a conventional cannabis joint as recently as 20 years ago would have contained a THC level of only 5%...Official figures reveal a sharp rise in the number of teenagers who took their own lives in the state (Colorado) who had marijuana in their system at the time of their deaths’’ Between 2014 and 2018 in the 15 – 19 age range there was a 30% ratio, 20 -24 was 33%+ and 25 – 34 was 30%. Experts and academics are calling for tighter regulation.
The prospect of so many people being spaced out by strong cannabis is alarming and saddening. This reality however is consistent with the grievous American figures for deaths due to use of lethal drugs. Provisional data from CDC’s (Centers for Disease Controls) National Center for Health Statistics indicate that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before. The new data documents that estimated overdose deaths from opioids increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in the 12-month period ending in April 2021. Cocaine deaths also increased, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication).
No Christian leader should ever advocate legalisation of drug use. Human nature being what it is, what begins in small scale or gateway becomes large scale in time. What is naively well intentioned and liberal reaps a harvest of illness and tragedy. Abortion was legalised in Britain in 1967. Abortions are now conducted on an industrial scale. Homosexual practice was legalised in 1967. Now human relationships are being torn apart by aggressive trans activism. This infection has permeated the body politic, society at large, educational institutions, even primary school education. If euthanasia is legalised for well intentioned purposes, within a generation hundreds of thousands of elderly and infirm people will be expected to take their own lives rather than be a financial burden on their families and on the State.
The western free for all abandonment of Judaeo-Christian ethics has not led to the beautiful life for everyone. There is more illness and mental illness now than ever. There are more broken families than ever. There is more poverty than ever. There is more dissatisfaction than ever. There is more fear than ever. In 1999 Richard Holloway was a false prophet. Donald Macleod was not a false prophet but he was mistaken and wrong in advocating legalisation of cannabis. Better follow the great St Paul. ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ (Galatians 5 : 22 - 23)