Yesterday marked the beginning of the NFL season between my beloved Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens. Interestingly, just a few days earlier a billboard appeared in Denver, plastered in Broncos colors, saying, “Stop driving players to drink! A safer choice is now legal (Here)” (Emphasis on original). The “safer” choice being promoted here is marijuana. The link at the bottom of the billboard is a change.org petition asking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to change the NFL’s policy on marijuana, which is currently banned.
As many are aware, Colorado became one of two states to legalize marijuana recently. What you may not know is a few weeks ago one of the best players on the Denver Broncos, Von Miller, was suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, which is thought to have involved marijuana. Von Miller had already tested positive for marijuana twice before this point.
Clearly there are some strong agenda’s behind this billboard. First, it is seeking to free Von Miller, and those like him, from their well-deserved suspensions. Secondly, it is pushing for a larger acceptance of marijuana in the NFL and in our society. The major way it is promoting this is by claiming that marijuana is safer than alcohol.
So, is marijuana really safer than alcohol? There is evidence to support this claim (Saferchoice.org). However, the entire argument itself is flawed. What they are doing is asking us to choose between the lesser of two dangerous substances. It’s like saying that shooting a small handgun at someone is “safer” than shooting a shotgun at them. This is like saying that jumping from a four-story building is “safer” than jumping from a six-story building. None of these are safe! Besides, this petition is not calling for alcohol to be banned, just for players to be able to use either method to potentially hurt themselves and others.
Alcohol is known to be dangerous, but marijuana is far from safe. Marijuana is known to cause memory loss, distorted perception, trouble with thinking and problem solving, anxiety, and other issues. Multiple studies have confirmed that marijuana users are twice as likely to cause a car accident (USA Today; CNN Health). “Andrea Barthwell of the American Society of Addiction Medicine says pot can be just as debilitating as alcohol” (NPR.org). It’s ridiculous to call something that keeps us from thinking clearly, acting rightly, and is an obvious hazard to ourselves and others, “safe.”
No matter which is “safer,” they are both wrong according to Scripture. God often calls us to be able to think clearly and be sober (1 Corinthians 15:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:6). Paul talked about how he never wanted to be “mastered” by something else (1 Corinthians 6:12). Both marijuana and alcohol have to power to take us over. Philippians 4:8 calls for us to participate in things that are “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise,” attributes which do not apply to marijuana or alcohol.
Neither alcohol nor marijuana is safe. The only truly safe option, both physically and spiritually, is for drugs and alcohol to remain out of our lives.