August 7, 2021
[00:01:41] Podcast Sponsors
[00:04:30] Guest Introduction
[00:08:04] Cannabis Use Viewed from a Conservative Pastor's Perspective
[00:23:40] How to Know If We're Enjoying a Natural Benefit of a Substance or Have Descended the Slippery Slope of Addiction
[00:29:09] Podcast Sponsors and Upcoming Events
[00:32:50] Is Ben Sinning When He Vapes to Relax in the Evening?
[00:38:12] Pastoral Admonishment vs. Endorsing the Government's “War on Drugs”
[00:42:53] Correlation Between Legalization of Weed and Compliance with Mask Mandates, Mandatory Vaccines, etc.
[00:46:37] The Biggest Drug-Related Issues Doug Wilson Faces as a Pastor
[00:53:59] THC as a Plant-Defense Mechanism
[01:00:47] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Doug: Nobody smokes a joint because it pairs nicely with the fish. If someone shows me that their cannabis use is sober and responsible, I don't have any argument. If they need to supplement the Holy Spirit's work in their life with anything artificial in order to function normally, that's a sin, impaired or not impaired. If you're sitting there and your house caught on fire, and all of a sudden, you needed to have all your wits about you.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, folks, I've been talking a lot lately about drugs, pharmaceuticals, plant medicines, all these different ways that people are tweaking their brains with everything from cannabis to psilocybin, to microdoses of LSD, to wachuma, to nootropics, to smart drugs like modafinil and beyond. And the question is, where do we enter the realm at which some of this stuff becomes dangerous? And that possibly might hold us back from being able to be fully impactful with our purpose in life. My guest today is a previous podcast guest named Doug Wilson. Just wrote a book called “Devoured by Cannabis,” and we get into the whole debate on weed, whether or not it's really going to destroy your brain and leave you on the couch watching “Family Guy” all day or not.
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Alright, folks. Well, you may remember Pastor Doug Wilson, who first joined me for a podcast episode that I got a lot of really great feedback on. We recorded an episode about his book “Confessions of a Food Catholic” where we really got into the link between healthy eating, and Christianity, and how Christians should make food choices, and how we should just view our consumption of food in general. That was a really great show, but since then, Doug has, as seems to be his usual practice, been churning out plenty more books. He actually wrote a couple of my favorite fictional titles of late. One was the environmental book. I believe it was called “Echocondriacs,” right, Doug?
Doug: Right, “Echocondriacs.”
Ben: “Echocondriacs.” We pronounce things differently up here in Spokane. And then, also “Ride Sally Ride,” which I just thought was a hilarious treatise of I guess woke identity culture. And from what I understand, that one is being turned into a movie, isn't it?
Doug: Yes, that's in process, yeah.
Ben: Well, it promises to be a pretty funny movie. And he also wrote this new book, “Devoured by Cannabis: Weed, Liberty, and Legalization,” which we're going to be talking about today. In this book, Doug talks about how marijuana usage is actually not something that's necessarily comparable to things like alcohol consumption or smoking cigarettes. And that recreational marijuana is definitely not an option, especially for Christians. And just a bad idea in general, saying that liberty, for potheads, means tyranny for everyone including smokers who are enslaved by the drug, smokers of marijuana.
And considering that I recently interviewed another author, Josiah Hesse, who wrote a book about the legalization of cannabis in sports, and whether or not it should be banned, and how this movement of cannabis fueled athletes seems to be taking shape. I thought it would be timely to get Doug's take on this topic, too. If you're not familiar with Doug, he's the Minister of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho. That's a church that I and my wife Jessa attended all throughout my childhood and during college. He attended the University of Idaho where he obtained a master's degree in philosophy. He serves on the board of Logos School, which is a K through 12 classical and Christian school. He's also a senior fellow of theology at New Saint Andrews College, which is a liberal arts institution down in Moscow, Idaho.
And again, like I mentioned, he has written many, many other titles. I'll link to his website, and also to his blog, which I happen to be an avid reader of. That's one of the blogs that I follow on a daily basis. I'll link to that as well. So, if you want to dig more into Doug, there'll be plenty in the shownotes, which you can access at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/devouredbycannabis, just like it sounds, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/devouredbycannabis, which of course is also the name of the new book.
So, Doug, I guess an interesting place to start would be, do you yourself have a history with cannabis use, either using it yourself or running into it in the past before it's become more popular of late?
Doug: Yeah. I've not used myself, but I've been well-acquainted with people who have.
Ben: I guess for you, stepping back and looking at this from a creationist standpoint, what do you think God's intention was in his creation of cannabis?
Doug: I hear it's great for making rope.
Ben: Rope, hippie clothes.
Doug: Yeah, hippie clothes to making tote bags. One of the things is that we have to sort out. I could make a joke and say, “Well, its purpose is right up there with Canadian thistle.” I could say, “Well, it's just a weed,” right? We live in a fallen world and there's stuff that fills up the field. But I don't have any problem at all saying that the world is a wonderful place and that we could find wonderful uses for everything, including Canadian thistle or marijuana. The fact that someone figured out that this plant can get you high if you treated this way does not exclude other possible wholesome uses down the road. And I think we should continue to research and study that sort of thing. I'm not arguing that marijuana is useless or the marijuana plant is useless. We don't know. But I'm saying that one particular use that we have discovered thus far is problematic for Christians.
Ben: Well, I actually get the impression from the book that you would acknowledge even from a medicinal standpoint that it might have some benefit for pain, for epilepsy, for cancer, for some of the things that it has been used for in the past medicinally, but that it would be perhaps taking some of those same medicinal uses and making them widespread recreationally amongst people who may not be using them for medicinal reasons. That's dictating that maybe it's not just clothing or for guys with man buns who want something to go along with their hippie sandals, but that the actual smoking or edible use of it would have some purpose from a medicinal standpoint.
Doug: Yeah, I'll leave room for that. There's a hesitancy there but not opposition. I'll put it that way. The reason for the hesitancy is in places like California, medicinal pot was simply an excuse where you'd find a doctor who'd write your prescription because you told him that you had a headache once. And that was just simply getting people used to widespread marijuana use. And so, I'm uncomfortable with–I don't want to say regulated because I don't like mandated regulations from on high either, but I don't like the imprecision of people who read an article in the Internet and then self-medicate. I'd like some sort of standardization, that's the word I'm looking for, so that if someone is treating symptoms of their cancer, I don't want to exclude or make illegal the possible medicinal use of cannabis, or the ingredients in cannabis, whether isolated or not. I just don't like it being applied willy-nilly.
Ben: Right, exactly. So, separate from the medicinal use of it, when we look at the recreational use–I mean, obviously–and I think this is probably the question that I would imagine you've been asked many times before because–like I mentioned, I've attended the church that you pastor and there's of course wine, real wine, not grape juice that gets passed around during communion. I've been to many wonderful parties and gatherings and potlucks where the beer and wine is flowing. Flowing responsibly, but flowing nonetheless. And I've had many people ask me, who are aware that you wrote a book about this, well, how is this any different than alcohol? Because alcohol can spend a few dials in your brain. Even a glass of alcohol, you can definitely feel something like that, whether it's the relaxing aspect or the joy-inducing aspect of it. I'd love for you to compare and contrast your feelings about alcohol versus cannabis, particularly the recreational use.
Doug: That's a great question, and it's preeminently the obvious question to ask. If I were the pastor of a fundamentalist church which banned alcohol, also cigarettes, card playing, and then of course cannabis, then somebody might say, “Well, it's a little tight shoed,” but at least they're consistent. They don't like any of that stuff. In our church, I'm not a teetotaler. I drink regularly and I go to events where there's wine or there's beer, just like you described. So, people say, “Why are you opposed to someone else's method of getting his kicks? Why are you saying, ‘Oh, the Bible's spine the thing you'd prefer?'”
Ben: And to clarify, when you say getting kicks, you're not talking about getting drunk, you're talking about just, say, like at the end of the day, relaxing, sitting around at dinner table, the family or whatever?
Doug: Correct, right. So, what I do is I've got a simple rule for myself, which is just one. On any particular occasion, if I sit down at a Sabbath dinner and there's a glass of wine, I have one glass of wine. And if it's after work and I have a beer, I want to have one beer for that occasion. I believe that I probably could drink a couple without having any problem. I just want to be responsible. I just wanted to say, “Okay, there is a particular prohibited use of alcohol in Scripture.” And then, there are a number of authorized uses in Scripture. So, when you look at Scripture, God gives us the sacramental use, which would be the Lord's Supper. God gives us wine for thirst. Jesus on the cross says, “I thirst,” and they offered him wine.
You have the medicinal use. Paul tells Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach and his frequent ailments. Now, that's one use that has a possible lawful use for marijuana, the medicinal use. Then you have the celebratory use. In the Psalms, God gave wine to gladden the heart of man. Now, celebratory use I don't take as a drunken orgy. I take as a celebratory toast at a wedding. It's a joyful occasion and you've got a joyful drink to accompany the joy.
Ben: Not to mention also, I'd say that the flavor, the palate cleansing, just being able to savor, especially a good glass of wine or nicely mixed cocktail, there's also a great deal of just savoring of God's creation just with the taste bud enhancement itself.
Doug: That's another lawful use in Scripture, which is Jesus says no one asks for the new wine. He says the old is better. Nobody smokes a joint because it pairs nicely with the fish.
Ben: There's probably a few outliers out there who have some kind of a flavor wheel. Well, there actually are flavor wheels I know people have designed for weed strains, but not for food pairing per se.
Doug: Cheech & Chong said it goes well with Oreos and mustard. But basically, you got a lawful–in Scripture, a lawful aesthetic use, a celebratory use, a sacramental use. And then, in Scripture, there's one prohibited use. The prohibited use is Paul saying, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess or dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” So, when people use wine, or beer, or gin, or whatever, to the point of dissipation where–and I'm taking that as impairing your ability to think in a sober way. And I don't mean sober in the sense of a highway patrolman breathalyzer test. I mean, sober biblically defined. Thinking responsibly, making decisions responsibly, not being impaired. So, Scripture prohibits the use of alcohol in one way. Don't impair yourself, don't get dissipated, don't get blotto, don't get stoned. That one prohibited use is, as I see it, overwhelmingly the desired effect of marijuana use. People smoke it in order to get to that impact, get to that effect that Scripture prohibits.
Ben: People who smoke it to get stoned, to get high?
Doug: Correct. They smoke it for the effect that I believe is prohibited to use alcohol to get that effect. Let's say marijuana is now legal in all 50 states. Let's say we don't have any of the legal issues. And for Christians, none of the issues about obeying the existing authorities. You can buy marijuana at Walgreens. Let's say we're in that circumstance.
Ben: Right. Grab your gummies at the checkout counter.
Doug: Yeah, you could do that. In fact, Nancy and I were in Colorado last year, and we were at a hotel, and we picked up a chocolate bar that they had available on the counter where the check-in will just have this. And the clerk said, “Oh, you might want to know that that's got the CBD in it.”
Ben: My wife can one-up that. We went to the Miami zoo and she went into my grandma's cupboard and grab the chocolate bar on the way to the Miami zoo because she was hungry. And she ate the bar, and we got to the zoo. And she just seemed increasingly interested in just standing for long periods of time in front of the cages and just staring slack-jawed at these animals. And me and my sons are getting a little annoyed because it took like four hours to get through a quarter to the zoo at her pace. And it turns out that my aunt was keeping her cannabis-infused chocolates from Colorado. They're in my grandma's kitchen. And so, my wife was able to visit the zoo stoned. So, yeah, not all chocolate is created equal these days.
Doug: Yeah. So, let's suppose that we're in a culture where there's no legal issues and THC-infused gummies at the counter, it's widely available. Now, let's say I'm talking with my next-door neighbor who's also a Christian. And let's say that he has figured out a way of microdosing with THC-infused gummy bear. That doesn't get him stoned at all. He's figured out another use and it's not medicinal. I don't know. It's for joint pain or something. So, he's invented this application of a couple of milligrams and it doesn't get him stoned, doesn't impair anything. He can operate heavy machinery, but the pain in his knuckles goes away. And he finds out that I wrote a book “Devoured by Cannabis,” and he comes over hot and bothered. Are you against what I've discovered? I would say, “No, not at all. No, that's wonderful.” The thing that I care about is Christians thinking in a sober, responsible way. And if someone shows me that their cannabis use is sober and responsible, then I don't have any argument.
Ben: That actually reminds me, by the way, of this last guy I interviewed, talking about how many of these athletes are microdosing with very precise ratios of THC, balancing that out with CBD, able to run for long periods of time. It's kind of like in Silicon Valley where people are taking like one-tenth of a trip dose of LSD, like a microdose of LSD or a microdose of psilocybin and seeing enormous enhancements in productivity and creativity using a compound that in larger doses would, in my opinion, definitely violate Scripture's rules about sobriety.
Doug: I might have a discussion with my neighbor about these microdoses where I might still think it's not a good idea to treat yourself like an experimental lab rat. I don't know, man. I'm not sure about that, but my objection that I lay out in this book would not be one of the objections. If a person takes a particular drug and it does not impair their ability to be sober-minded and responsible, then that's my central argument. The other thing is make sure that you're not evaluating the impact that the drug you're taking is an evaluation that you draw up while you are under the influence of it, because stoners famously think that they are having all kinds of insights, and they are jotting down these brilliant thoughts while they're stoned. And then, when they land, they read their notes and it's just gibberish. So, make sure you're not kidding yourself, but that's a disagreement on the wisdom issue of it. The Biblical law aspect of it would be don't get stoned.
Ben: Right. And I think the other thing that's important here, I suppose you could say the same thing about wine is that–let's say that you were going to very precisely microdose with something to enhance a workout, or to enhance a day of writing, or to enhance your cognitive throughput in some other way. It's kind of like having a pint of Ben and Jerry's in the freezer. Well, for example, I have and do microdosed with LSD. I actually have a bottle of LSD in my refrigerator that if I were to drink that entire bottle would say–and I have never in my life tripped on LSD, but I have used these one-tenth microdoses of it to enhance productivity, creativity, and whatnot.
However, with something like marijuana, or LSD, or psilocybin, or whatever, the ability to be able to microdose dictates that you have to have the compound on hand that would allow you to definitely get into a state of non-sobriety. And therefore, there's some amount of self-control that's necessary as well because again, you've got that pint of Ben and Jerry's and you're telling yourself, “Well, I'm just going to have a spoonful here.”
Doug: Right, exactly.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. So, the difference between cannabis and alcohol, and this is something that I think you begin to get into in the book, is your feelings about the–I guess the way that I would say this would be the ease of being able to get high with, let's say, one of these modern high THC vape pens versus, say, like a bottle of wine. There's a difference between–let me put this way. It's a lot easier to get high than it is to get drunk, right?
Doug: In order to get drunk, you've got to soldier through, and you can get stoned very quickly.
Ben: And so, when it comes to the addictive potential of cannabis, this is another thing that I've heard people bring up, this idea that really, many of the things that we consume have addicted chemicals in them. Like many people walk around arguably addicted to coffee, addicted to, I don't know, like green tea has similar compounds, even wheat. The gluten and wheat actually binds to the opioid receptors and does have somewhat of an addictive effect.
And so, where do you draw the line when it comes to our propensity as human beings and the way that God made us to have a certain neurotransmitter response, like a certain dopamine response as a reaction to the intake of certain foods? And where do you draw the line between, well, that's just the neurochemical response that's completely natural versus that's an addiction because you could argue that almost everything we do, including non-food or plant-based compounds like, say, exercise or walking in the sunshine are addictive?
Doug: Yeah. People can get addicted to that little ping from their phone.
Doug: The little ping goes off and they've got to pick up the phone and see who–they got a little dopamine reaction in the brain and they have to pick up the phone to check and see right away. What I want to do here is think in terms of layers or different kinds of sins. So, if someone is not able to be a Christian before they've had two cups of coffee, I think that that's a problem, whether there's nicotine, or caffeine, or certain foods. They've got certain responsibilities as a Christian through the day. If they need to supplement the Holy Spirit's work in their life with anything artificial in order to function normally, then I think that that's a sin. I think that you've got a problem.
In my book, I say, for example, on Page 43, I say our bodies want sleep, air, sunshine, sex, water, meat, and so on. These desires are God-given, but because the world has been not cockeyed by sin, they can become inordinate. In other words, ordinary desires can become inordinate, but the problem is they're built-in by God so that just having them is not a problem. Now, who among us was doing so well with all these bodily demands, the ones that came with the hardware already installed that we thought to upload a few more dependencies just to show how good we are at the self-discipline?
“Oh, Smith was doing so well with hunger, thirst, and blast that he decided to add nicotine and alcohol.” Well, we shouldn't become dependent upon anything at all. But if a man is dependent on cigarettes, he needs that in order to not notice what his body is yelling at him about. But he doesn't need it in order to keep his mind clear. Paul says the body for food and food for the body, but God will destroy them both. All things are lawful, but not all things are necessary. So, I think Christians ought to be very wary of things that create dependencies, whether they're mind-altering or not. Does that make sense?
Ben: It does. It's kind of that idea that I guess Anthony de Mello would say in his book “Awareness.” Like you should be able to step back from anything that you happen to be reliant upon throughout the day. Or that's woven into your daily routine like coffee, or green tea, or weed, or nicotine, or weed, or exercise, or anything, and question whether or not you are dependent upon that for your happiness. And if the answer to that question is yes, then you should consider weaning yourself off of that substance or going for a certain period of time learning how to cope and how to be impactful for God in the way that you've been placed on this planet to be without necessarily depending on the chemical to do so.
Doug: Yeah. It's making a distinction between an idol and a mind-altering idol. There are two kinds of idols. One is the idol that you–you set up the idol to Molek in your backyard and you worship it. When you repent and turn back to Christ, that idol has got to go. You tear it down. You haul it off to the dump. That idol must go. There are other idols which when you repent, you can't just get rid of because they're part of your life. Let's say you idolized your family. Let's say you idolized your car. Let's say you idolized your bank account. Well, there, when you repent, you don't get rid of the idol. What you do is you re-prioritize the idol. You put it in its proper place.
So, there's some idols, blatant, overt, idolatry, the bail, or the Buddha, or the Molek. You repent and the idol has to be completely gone. But if you idolize your wife and then repented, then you're still married. You just have to think of her rightly and love her rightly instead of loving her wrongly. God gives me coffee. It's one of God's good gifts, although I will say I went through the Navy. I didn't grow up a coffee drinker. Didn't drink coffee through the Navy. Into our marriage, Nancy one day said to me, “You know, it's kind of lonesome drinking coffee here all by myself.” And so, I said, “Okay.” So, I started drinking coffee in order to share a cup of coffee with my wife. I had to soldier through it for about six months because I just thought coffee tastes nasty. I made myself drink it for six months or so. And then, I came to enjoy having a cup of coffee with my wife.
But let's say that became too important. It's something that is part of our life. I just need to structure my life in such a way that it assumes its proper position. I don't have to get rid of all the coffee. I have to rethink the coffee.
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Now, what if someone uses marijuana? Or let's say they have one of these vape pens. And at the end of the day–and I know many people who do this, and I've done this myself. My wife will be having a glass of wine out on the porch at the end of the day. I'll go out there on the porch where she's sitting on the hammock and looking at the trees and drinking a glass of wine, and I have no desire to have a glass of wine. But it's the end of the day, I want to relax. I take a hit on the vape pen, which is in the pantry. Leave the vape pen in the pantry and walk out there on the porch and visit with my wife as she's having her wine. We're sitting and chatting at the end of the day.
In a situation like that where that relaxes me at the end of the day, and it's not something that I'm addicted to, and I can take it or leave it in terms of it not being something that I'm dependent upon, how would you approach a scenario like that? Am I in a situation where I'm committing a sin by hitting that vape pen instead of the glass of wine that my wife is having?
Doug: What I would encourage you to do, we're doing inventory again, revisit the question. Here's why. The glass of wine that your wife is having has a half-life. You have one glass of wine, it relaxes you, pleasant taste. It's a good situation, da, da, da. A lot of what you're doing with that one hit from the vape pen lines up with what she's doing. But there are a couple of differences because I think the relaxation that she's getting may be different than the relaxation you're getting. And the half-life of the substance she's taking into her body differs radically with the half-life of the THC that's going into your body. It's measured in days and up to weeks, depending on–
Ben: Depending on the dosage, yeah.
Doug: And the quantity in the bag. Now, if you said, “One toke, one hit and it relaxes me to X amount,” I'd want to know how relaxed. Basically, I'd want to know impaired or not impaired. If you're sitting there and your house caught on fire, and all of a sudden you needed to have all your wits about you, do you?
Ben: Absolutely. I mean, the house on fire rule is at the fringe of sobriety. I would say if you fear to the point where you're questioning whether or not you'd be able to save your family if the house is on fire, you're definitely far past the consideration of “Am I sober or not?” And I've looked into this a little bit. To take a hit on a vape pen, you're looking at a half-life depending on your liver enzymes and how it's being processed 60 minutes to 4 hours getting stoned. Yeah, you're correct, it's days. And in some people with slow metabolisms, even weeks, but yeah. For me personally, it is about the equivalent of a glass of wine.
And I'm like you, I drink, if I am going to drink, one drink. If I'm at a steakhouse and it's a long sit-down dinner, I'll sometimes start with a cocktail and then have a glass of wine with the steak. That would be a scenario in which I'd have two drinks. That's max for me. I'm kind of a control freak. I don't like to feel as though I'm not able to control my senses. I don't ever like to feel like I'm in a state of non-sobriety. I just don't like that feeling of not being able to function. So, yeah, for me, it really is I guess what you would consider to be a microdose where I see the issue and where I would actually agree with you on this, is that it would be far easier for me to pull on that pen for an extra two seconds. Whereas for her to pour three extra glasses of wine is a little bit more laborious and takes a little bit more I guess thought and awareness that you're pushing the boundaries with alcohol. And I think with weed, it is very easy to put yourself into a state of non-sobriety far more quickly than with something like alcohol.
Doug: Right. Here's another scenario, and this is a variation of the golden rule approach. Let's say I'm flying somewhere and someone told me, “Do you know that your pilot last night sat on the back deck with his wife and had a glass of wine?” I would say, “You know, I didn't know that. And furthermore, I don't care. I don't care that my pilot sat on the back deck.” If the person said, “Did you know the airline pilot takes one toke and he did last night?” I would say, “How do I know that he took one toke?” It awakens more nervousness in me because of the nature of what I think the sin is. And sometimes I think there's a self-deception element in there that you've already alluded to.
Basically, I think the relaxation element is a lawful element. Let's say we're talking about whatever relaxation that one glass of wine provides, it's just a pleasant evening and I'm enjoying the wine, and the taste, and the moment, and everything. If someone were able to show me that the two were equivalent by approval of one, I've got to approve of the other. Or if I disapprove of one, still I've got to disapprove of the other, if they're equivalent. What I'm questioning whether that equivalence is a true equivalence.
Ben: I don't know if you talked about this in your book, but it is something that I've thought about. Just the idea behind Romans 14, for example, in which we need to be careful putting stumbling blocks or hindrances in front of our brothers and sisters. You can't really have a bunch of vape pens out on the counter at a dinner party and expect that things aren't going to go south pretty quickly because again, it is very difficult to– I throw parties all the time. There's always a few bottles of wine out on the counter with wine glasses, and I'm not worried at all. I would be if there were vape pens out there. And so, let's say that someone does decide that they have the responsibility and the self-control to be able to do something like microdose with cannabis as an alternative to a glass of wine. Well, that doesn't mean that you don't need to be incredibly careful if other people are around, and that's not necessarily the same type of scenario is having a bunch of wine out at a dinner party.
Doug: Sure. As your aunt found out, you can't even keep chocolate in the cupboard.
Ben: Right. It gets you a lot more out of your zoo ticket though.
Doug: You can pursue this if you want, but I did want to register this at one point in our discussion, and I do make this clear in the book. My views on this getting stoned as a sin should not be taken as any kind of standing approval of our government's war on drugs, which I believe to be fundamentally demented. I think that our approach to this whole thing on the legal enforcement level needs radical reformation. So, basically, the fact that I think that marijuana use is problematic, both legally and personally, is not an endorsement of how we've tackled the drug problem as a society. I wanted to register that at some point.
Ben: Yeah. Well, my issue with the war on drugs is just a–well, in part, some of the racist origins of it to vilify African Americans and Mexicans primarily. And then, also, the enormous amount of pharmaceutical lobbying that occurred behind it. I think that we've spent a lot of money vilifying substances that, especially from a medicinal standpoint, as we've established earlier, do have benefits. So, I have some issues with the war on drugs just based on the fact that it just seems corrupt in general in terms of the way that we've gone about doing it. But what I wanted to ask you about was the actual legality component. I mean, where do you think that the government should play a role, particularly with cannabis when it comes to legality?
Doug: I acknowledged in the book that I've shifted somewhat. I used to be more of a libertarian on this issue because I argued that even though drunk–and there's a difference between a sin and a crime. Something can be clearly sinful but ought not to be criminal. Let's say someone buys a couple of bottles of whiskey and goes home and gets drunk, flat out, falling down drunk. I believe this is clearly a sin. The Bible says not to do that. You shouldn't get drunk. But if you stayed at home, if you got drunk in his living room, and passed out, and woke up in the morning, I don't think that that sort of thing ought to be a crime at all. And wouldn't have been a crime in Moses' Israel. You go through all of biblical law, there'd be no criminal penalties that you could assign to that behavior in Scripture that you could have an argument.
Ben: A sin, but not a crime.
Doug: It's a sin, but not a crime. Drunk driving is a sin and a crime. If someone is weaving down the road and driving on the sidewalk and plowing into the back of your car because he's impaired, his drunkenness is not an excuse. His drunkenness is something that compounds the crime in a society where we are all operating heavy machinery all day long. That's what we're doing when we're driving cars. Basically, for someone to drive impaired in that condition isn't a criminal act and ought to be. Let's remove all microdosers. Let's remove them from the equation. And we're talking about people who get stoned every weekend. They do that and the THC stays in their system.
At a certain point, I think a society has a right to self-defense when it comes to driving and whatnot. But the thing that I argue in the book, it ought to be the sort of thing where if someone is caught driving impaired, they ought to go to a drug court, not to criminal court.
Ben: What's a drug court?
Doug: A drug court would be basically you are fined or you opt for six weeks in rehab. If you go to rehab and you graduate from the program, there's nothing on your record and there's no fine. And if you opt to pay the fine, you pay the fine, and the fine goes to pay for other people who's going to rehab. In other words, you try to help people who have a substance abuse problem instead of taking a 19-year-old kid who bought some pot, and then you arrest him and throw him in the penitentiary for five years, which is a graduate school for criminal behavior.
Ben: Yeah. A substance abuse problem that is putting other people's lives at danger, that would definitely be the situation in which you would say that the government should be able to step in and enforce something like you've just described.
Doug: Correct. When other people are endangered, I think the threshold of the society is saying, “We're going to treat this as a crime, not as a sin.” Let's say you had a drug. It wasn't alcohol, but let's say there was a drug that just got you stoned, like alcohol gets you drunk. Someone only used it at home, and they never went out, and they never threatened anybody else, I don't think that that should be criminal at all.
Ben: Yeah. Now, this might be getting into the weeds, I suppose, pun intended in this case a little bit. But yeah, I think somewhere in the book you talk about the idea of people who are using marijuana being a little bit easier to govern, like less anti-authoritarian. Do you think that that has contributed at all like the legalization of marijuana? And I don't know if there's data to back this up or anything, but it's an interesting thought. The legalization of marijuana being something that has gone hand in hand with people perhaps being a little bit more–I guess more of a pushover, a little bit more docile, a little bit more accepting of let's say getting jabbed or putting giant pieces of cloth multiple times around their face to mask a horrific pandemic.
Doug: I very much believe that. I would say that I grasped intuitively. I don't have studies that show pot smokers are more likely to be collectivist, but it's sort of anecdotal thing that everybody knows. People who know people who are addicted to marijuana know that they are kind of, “Whoa, whoa, man, sky pilot.” They're not as industrious as they used to be. They're not as vigilant as they used to be. They're not as on top of it as they used to be. So, I do believe that a drug-impaired populace is a land of the lotus eaters, and I think they are easier to manipulate.
Ben: Yeah, lotus eaters. That's the word I was looking for. Okay. So, this is something that I'm trying to wrap my head around. So, I believe it was kind of like during the '60s and during some of the protests against the war that it was really like–and correct me if I'm wrong, like the marijuana users, or the hippies, or the drug users, or who were upset about the war, and who were protesting it's the war. And to me, that seems a little bit anti-authoritarian. So, I'm trying to figure out where it is that we become pushovers and where it is that the use of drugs actually is associated with the people who are against some of the things that the government is doing.
Doug: Back in the Woodstock generation, which is my generation, the people who were involved in the revolt against the establishment or the man had just started smoking dope. They had just gotten into drugs. And the average Woodstock joint was about less than 25% of what they are now. Basically, the THC count in modern strains of cannabis is much, much higher than it used to be. Combine that with the fact that the people in the run-up to their opposition to the establishment had not been drug smokers, drug users. And then, they just got into it and it was all part of their rebellion as opposed to now where we've had increasingly heavy doses, increasingly more THC over an extended period of time. And now, when the authoritarianism is really starting to crack down, there's nothing, no reaction.
Ben: Yeah. And you are right, isn't it something like–I want to say it's like pushing close to 50% in some cases as far as the–I guess it would be the THC content versus–I think in the '60s and '70s, it was like one and a high percentage or something like 8%. It's almost a totally different drug.
Doug: It's like comparing Bud Light to [00:48:06] _____.
Ben: Yeah, Everclear. How big of an issue is this? For you as a pastor, who I know you see all sorts of problems, I would imagine in your office, especially with the increased legalization, the fact that–I mean, over here where I'm at, I know you're in Idaho, but in Washington State, I mean you can't swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting some kind of a weed shop or, what do they call them, a dispensary. Like a fancy dispensary where you walk in and it's super sexy. Everything looks clean and they have everything organized. It doesn't seem like you're walking into some dirty hippie joint. These almost look like medical facilities, these things popping up all over the place than being widely available. Anybody being able to walk in and grab, my guess for you in Moscow would be people going over to Pullman, correct me if I'm wrong, which is a few miles away.
Doug: Yeah. In fact, there's a cannabis joint right across the state line outside of Moscow. So, another problem is, and this is probably the biggest one, for the Christians that I pastor who are grown matured, been around, it is not, “Oh no, there's legal pot over in Washington. I need to drive over and get some.” But that's not going to be the case with 17, 18-year-olds. They've not been around. They've not thought these things through and they likely know somebody who think this is really cool. And pot is really a problem for young males, particularly, whose brains are still forming. It is not a good thing to start ingesting in large amounts.
Ben: I agree. I have actually seen no data at all showing that anyone under the age of 18 is not going to be deleteriously affected from a neural standpoint from smoking–everything from schizophrenia to brain damage. And I mean, of course prior to a liver being fully developed, for example, you might be able to draw similar corollary to alcohol. But yeah, I mean, I would say across the board, there is no way that I would advise anyone under the age of 18 based on the data that I've seen from a neural standpoint to even microdose with THC, particularly THC.
Doug: There's debate among the researchers as to whether pot under some circumstances causes schizophrenia, or whether it takes people who are already predisposed–
Ben: Right, with a tendency towards schizophrenia.
Doug: To push them over the line, but there is emphatically a correlation. And we know that correlation does not equal causation, but it might. If you took 100 people who smoked a pack of Camel cigarettes every day, inveterate smokers, out of those 100 people who smoke a pack a day, 15 of the 100 would get lung cancer, 85 would not get lung cancer. At the same time, it's statistically significant that 15 of them get lung cancer. And I think that we need to be more suspicious and more willing to investigate the correlation between drug use and adolescent boys, and some of the psychotic episodes that we see them sometimes flipping out into.
Ben: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, there was one huge study that–and this one was in twins. And those are always interesting studies because you're able to look at pretty comparable genetics in users versus non-users. And in this case, it was cannabis. And they looked at like 10 years old all the way up to 30 years old. And the use specifically under the age of 18, or cannabis use in adolescence, it wasn't just schizophrenia. It was anxiety, it was major depression, it was anti-social personality disorders. It was illicit drug use of other drugs, and just overall worsened academic function. And that study found that it was pretty–I think for that, it was age 17, but it was pretty much across the board that they found in this identical twin analysis that cannabis was an issue. So, I think it's undeniable for our youth.
Doug: Right. One other thing I'd just inject here, I mentioned this in the book, but some of these dispensaries that you mentioned will have signs on some of their brands that they're selling saying this kind makes you less susceptible to paranoia.
Doug: Well, that means that some of the others don't make you less susceptible. There are connections.
Ben: Right. Now, I guess age aside, or it might be relevant here, back to my original question for you when you're counseling, when you're seeing people, has this become something that is increasingly concerning or common for you, especially with the advent of legalization?
Doug: Yes. It was enough of an issue for me to write the book and put the book together. But when I wrote the book and the book came out, I was frankly surprised at some of the reaction from Christians because I was expecting pushback from Christians on the sin crime issue. In other words, I was expecting Christians to say, “Well, yeah, we all agree it's a sin, but it shouldn't be a crime.” I was expecting the libertarian argument because on this issue, I was at that point myself at one point. So, I was expecting that. What surprised me were the number of Christians who were questioning my point that it was simple. And I'm talking about the impaired part, not medicinal, not the microdose, but Christians who are ready to defend getting stoned. That surprised me.
Ben: Is it also something that you're seeing amongst adults? It wouldn't be surprising to me if you were counseling a lot of 15 to 19-year-old kids, or maybe some of the college students down there about marijuana use. But how big of an issue is this amongst I guess Christian adult men and women?
Doug: Basically, in our church, I don't see this as a pastoral problem really at all among the adults. But because I have a national audience with my blog and the books I write, I was surprised at the responses from adult Christians around the country who were surprised at me taking a swing at it.
Ben: Yeah. It's a sensitive issue. I think some of the sensitivity arises amongst people who have found medicinal benefit or who perhaps are using something like, let's say CBD, for example, which I personally have no issues with. I put that right in the same category, say, like melatonin or something like that. But yeah, I think–
Doug: I don't have any issues with CBD either.
Ben: Right, or CBN. Really, it's THC that seems to be one of the major psychoactive components, and that's of course the part that's in some of these stronger medicines that I think a lot of people have found benefit from. But yet once you get into the recreational use, there's far less benefit. And as you dictate in the book and detail in the book, a lot more problematic issues. My take on this too, because I was thinking about this before the interview, is that God has woven all of these plant defense mechanisms into compounds to keep us from overconsuming them. We talked about gluten earlier, how it technically is addictive. It binds to opioid receptors.
We know that having a piece of bread in most cases–in the U.S., it's a little bit more of an issue because of our use of glyphosate, and herbicides, and pesticides making the gut wall a little bit more permeable, and some of these big gluten proteins wind up in the bloodstream and can cause an issue, especially in people predisposed to it. But essentially, gluten in trace amounts is just fine. In large amounts, it seems to cause gut upset and neural inflammation in a lot of people. I know another physician who I've interviewed named Steven Gundry, who thinks that all lectin is bad for you, like lectin that you would find in beans, and tomato seeds, and many plants and nightshades, et cetera.
But in fact, a lot of research shows that it can be good for you. It induces some amount of cellular resilience, this idea that something that's taken in small amounts can kill you or harm you when you take it in large amounts. Or like the arsenic in apple seeds would be another example. So, it's not going to kill you unless you eat a whole bunch of seeds. But it's interesting because–just an interesting thought experiment, I was thinking about THC. Well, what does it do? If we look at this from more of like a plant standpoint, it lowers drive, it lowers productivity in men, especially high use of THC lowers testosterone, lowers fertility, and induces some amount of laziness in people who consume it.
So, technically, when you look at this from a plant defense mechanism standpoint, a lot of these mechanisms are designed so that mammals eat fewer of those plants or so that mammals who consume the plant wind up being less successful at propagation, being less successful at creating future generations. And I was thinking, well, gosh, maybe THC is this built-in plant defense mechanism that basically makes the humans who consume it in large amounts less likely to go on and have children, or less likely to be able to survive against predation or to protect themselves, not only in the case of a house fire, but let's say, whatever, saber-toothed tiger if we're looking at this from an ancestral standpoint or something like that.
So, I think it's also possible that particularly, the THC component of cannabis is one of those things, kind of returning to my first question for you about why God created cannabis in the first place. Maybe he did have a lot of uses for it, but built-in THC as one of the more harmful aspects in it that we had to figure out how to deactivate that THC before we actually go on to use cannabis for all the other uses that it might have been intended for.
Doug: Sort of a natural selection enhancer.
Ben: Right, exactly. Basically, we don't want this mammal to go on to survive, so we might as well have this built-in mechanism to keep the humans who consume me from having babies. So, it is interesting if you think about it from a generational standpoint. Well, this book is great, “Devoured by Cannabis.” Hopefully, those of you who are listening in, you've got a little bit of interest in going through this thing. It's a great photo on the cover. It's a bag full of bud on the cover, easy to find. And Doug, you're working on any new books right now, anything particularly exciting?
Doug: Well, yes, I'm chipping away at different books. I'm working on another novel, still plotting it out.
Doug: Ecochondriacs, yeah.
Ben: Ecochondriacs is also good. However, Doug's son, who I knew growing up, who also lives down in Moscow, and Nate Wilson, and his pen name is N.D. Wilson. I am actually reading because I always like to be reading some of the same fiction that my boys are reading. So, we have a little bit of conversation fodder at the dinner table. I'm reading an excellent series by Doug's son called “Ashtown Burials,” and that's also a really great series. So, for those of you who are interested in fiction, both Doug and his son churn out some pretty good stuff, and I'll link to that in the shownotes if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/devouredbycannabis.
And then, also for those of you who want to follow Doug's blog, it's very simple. You could google him or just go to dougwills.com/blog, or just dougwills.com, and you can find some of his great writings that he puts out every day, which are everything from hilarious to informative to–I would imagine that you run into this a lot, Doug. A bit divisive, but he's got some great writing nonetheless. Doug, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us.
Doug: Really appreciate the invitation. Great talking to you.
Ben: Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Pastor Doug Wilson signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Again, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/devouredbycannabis is where the shownotes reside. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Pastor Doug Wilson first joined me for a podcast episode about his book Confessions of a Food Catholic, for which we recorded a show entitled, “Why Your Pursuit Of A Better Body & The Perfect Diet Is Never Going To Make You Happy, How Christians Should Make Food Choices, The Ultimate Source Of Joy & Much More“.
Since then, Doug has, as is his usual practice, been churning out plenty more books, including a couple of my favorite fictional titles of his: Ecochondriacs and Ride, Sally, Ride, and quite recently, the book Devoured by Cannabis: Weed, Liberty, and Legalization, which is the topic of this podcast.
In Devoured by Cannabis, Doug Wilson argues that marijuana usage is not comparable to alcohol consumption or to smoking cigarettes, and demonstrates that the use of recreational marijuana is definitely not an option for Christians, and just a bad idea in general. He says that liberty for potheads means tyranny for everyone, including the smokers enslaved by the drug. Considering I just interviewed Josiah Hesse about his book Runner’s High: How a Movement of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes Is Changing the Science of Sports, I thought it would be timely to get Doug's take on the topic too.
Doug Wilson has been a family friend for years, and is the minister of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, which is a member of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) and the church I and my wife Jessa attended all throughout my childhood and during college. After his stint in the submarine service of the U.S. Navy, he attended the University of Idaho where he obtained an MA in philosophy.
As one of its founders, Doug Wilson has served on the board of Logos School, a classical and Christian school (K-12), since its inception. He is also a Senior Fellow of theology at New St. Andrews College, which I consider to be one of the better liberal arts institutions in the country. He is the author of numerous books, including Reforming Marriage, The Case for Classical Christian Education, Letter from a Christian Citizen, and Blackthorn Winter. Doug is also the general editor for the Omnibus textbook series. You can check out his blog here, and his metric ton of grandkids can be found spread across the planet with rapidly increasing frequency.
Doug's brother, Gordon Wilson, has also joined me for the podcast “Are Christians Destroying The Environment? A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the “Dominion Mandate.”.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Cannabis use viewed from a conservative pastor's perspective…08:05
- The most notorious use of cannabis (getting high) is problematic for Christians; however, this does not mean there cannot be good uses for it
- Medicinal benefits can be misused and abused
- The fact that some abuse both the drug and access to it should not be used as a pretense to make legitimate uses of it illegal
- Authorized uses of alcohol in Scripture:
- Sacramental, wine for thirst, medicinal
- Celebratory uses for festivals and otherwise
- “No one smokes a joint because it pairs nicely with the fish”
- Prohibited: “Be not drunk with wine…” (point of dissipation)
- The most desired use of marijuana is to get to the state of mind that Scripture prohibits (dissipation, drunkenness)
- No conflict if a legit use of marijuana is discovered without violating the prohibited use of any drug/alcohol
- BGF podcast with Josiah Hesse on athletes who micro-dose to improve their performance
- Don't evaluate the effects of the drug while under the influence of the drug
-How to know if we're enjoying a natural benefit of a substance or have descended the slippery slope of addiction…23:40
- Layers of sin: if you can't be a Christian before you've had two cups of coffee, it's a problem
- All things are lawful, but not all things are necessary
- Awarenessby Anthony De Mello
- Be aware of what can cause a dependency, and use with caution
- Distinction between an idol and a mind-altering idol
- Two kinds of idols:
- Statues, images, etc.
- Things that are part of your life (family, car, job, etc.)
- Reprioritize that which you idolized but is still an important part of your life
-Is Ben sinning when he vapes to relax in the evening?…32:10
- Half life of wine differs radically from THC in a vape pen
- It's far easier to put one's self in a state of non-sobriety with marijuana than alcohol; getting drunk requires commitment
- Relaxation element is lawful scripturally
- Question of equivalence between marijuana and alcohol
- Romans 14: be wary of offending brothers and sisters with your actions
-Pastoral admonishment vs. endorsing the government's “war on drugs”…38:05
- Doug's admonition to be wary of using marijuana is in no way an endorsement of the war on drugs
- Racist origins, pharmaceutical lobbying
- Vilifying substances that have medicinal benefits
- Difference between a sin and a crime
- No record of civil punishment for drunkenness in Moses' time
- Drunk driving is an example of something that's a sin and a civil crime
- Society has a right to self-defense
- Drug courts vs. criminal courts
-Correlation between legalization of weed and compliance with mask mandates, mandatory vaccines, etc…43:02
- People who are regularly high on pot are more docile, more likely to comply with societal norms and rules
- Not as industrious, vigilant
- A drug-induced populace is in the “land of the lotus eaters”
- In the Woodstock generation, the people involved in the revolt against the “The Establishment” or “The Man” had just started getting into drugs
- The average Woodstock joint had less than 25% of THC than what a joint has today; modern strains have a much higher THC content
- Now, there is no reaction to authoritarianism after generations have had exposure to more THC, over an extended period of time
-The biggest drug-related issues Doug Wilson faces as a pastor…46:35
- No data shows that anyone under 18 will not be affected by drug use
- Young men whose brains are not fully developed can't comprehend the dangers and hazards
- Pot may cause schizophrenia, or push those predisposed to it over the line
- Study on effects of cannabis on twins
- Adult Christians seem to be willing to defend a person's biblical right to get stoned
- Doug Wilson's Blog
-THC as a plant-defense mechanism…53:42
- Plant defense mechanisms prevent us from consuming them in excess
- THC may be a plant-defense mechanism(natural selection enhancer)
- BGF podcast with Stephen Gundry:
- Ride, Sally, Rideby Doug Wilson
- Ecochondriacsby Doug Wilson
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
– Doug Wilson:
- Books By Doug Wilson:
- Doug Wilson's Blog
- Christ Church
- New St. Andrews College
- Logos School
- Why Your Pursuit Of A Better Body & The Perfect Diet Is Never Going To Make You Happy, How Christians Should Make Food Choices, The Ultimate Source Of Joy & Much More With Doug Wilson.
- Banned For Cannabis? Is Weed An Illegal Performance Enhancing Drug? Runner’s High: How A Movement Of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes Is Changing The Science Of Sports With Josiah Hesse.
- Are Christians Destroying The Environment? A Biblical Approach To Environmentalism And The “Dominion Mandate, With Gordon Wilson.
- The Truth About Lectins And The Plant Paradox By Dr. Steven Gundry
– Other Resources:
- Trends In Legal Cannabis Use And Its Effects On Public Health
- Cannabis And Cognitive Function In First-Episode Psychosis
- Cannabis Use In Adolescence May Impair Academic Functioning, Leading To Poor Socioeconomic Outcomes
- Does Type Of Cannabis Use Affect Alcohol Intake?
- Cannabis Sativa: The Plant Of The Thousand And One Molecules
- Cannabis Ecology
- Ben will be speaking at the Ancestral Health Symposium in L.A. on August 12-14, 2021
- Las Vegas Keto Expo (October 15-16, 2021). Ben will be speaking at the Las Vegas Keto Expo along with 13 other keto experts. The first 300 guests to register herewill get a free drink chip for the poolside party and a free t-shirt.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following com/calendar
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