Presbyterian Church Votes For Medical Marijuana



The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA) voted on June 21, 2006 to support access to medical marijuana for people who have a doctor's recommendation.

The Assembly adopted the Committee’s [Presbytery of Homestead] recommendation by consensus. The Committee's recommendation, as per the website of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, was as follows:

"The Presbytery of Homestead overtures the 217th General Assembly (2006) to do the following:

  1. Reaffirm the PCUS statement of the 111th General Assembly (1971) that 'marijuana is not properly classified' (Minutes, PCUS, 1971, Part I, p. 147).
  2. Affirm the use of cannabis sativa or marijuana for legitimate medical purposes as recommended by a physician.
  3. Instruct the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to inform the office of the president of United States, urging Federal legislation that allows for its use and that provides for the production and distribution of the plant for those purposes.
  4. Seek Federal protection for patients, caregivers, and their physicians from prosecution by local and state authorities, and physicians from negative repercussions by their licensing bodies.

Rationale:

This resolution declares support for the medicinal use of cannabis sativa (also known as marijuana), and directs the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to actively urge the Federal government to amend and adopt such laws as will allow the benefits of marijuana treatment for such diseases as cancer, AIDS, and muscular dystrophy.

Some of those who suffer from such diseases as cancer, AIDS, and muscular dystrophy claim that they have found benefit in the medical use of cannabis sativa, or marijuana. Ten states have legalized such medical treatment; however, Federal law prohibits possession of marijuana even with a physician’s recommendation or prescription.

Jesus said, 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink...' (Matt. 25:35). When we see the suffering of others, we are called to stand up and take a look.

Those who suffer believe that their use of cannabis or marijuana helps to relieve pain associated with cancer, spinal cord injury, nerve damage, neuropathy, and fibromyalgia. Marijuana reduces nausea caused by chemotherapy, radiation, and other cancer treatments. It treats the loss of appetite and wasting disorders such as AIDS or Crohn’s disease. Marijuana also relaxes muscle spasms due to epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and brain injury.

The statement of the 111th General Assembly (1971) recognizes issues of dependency and abuse of various chemical substances. Nevertheless, the statement clarifies that '...marijuana is not properly classified with the other ‘narcotics’ and conclusive evidence is lacking that it produces permanent physiological effects or automatically leads to the use of more serious, addictive drugs...' (Minutes, PCUS, 1971, Part I, p. 147).

Current research suggests benefits to marijuana use as medicine, but that research is limited because the use of marijuana offers no profit to pharmaceutical companies. As a result, patients may be suffering needless pain and debilitating consequences due to the use of synthetic drugs that are ineffective or cause significant side effects, rather than using well-established treatment with historic cannabis formulas.

Several Christian denominations have passed resolutions supporting access to medicinal marijuana. These include: the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Others are currently considering the issues.

Professional organizations have also supported the compassionate use of marijuana including: the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Bar Association, and the National Association of Attorneys General.

Considering support for the medical use of marijuana will open a dialog and bring us closer to a path that would alleviate the pain and suffering of many."
June 21, 2006 Presbyterian Church