With this debate, we are really talking about whether a person should be placed in a cage, a jail, a prison, locked up, deprived of freedom, for possessing... a plant. That is the real meaning and effect of making something illegal, a crime.
Pastor Enyart's argument fails to address the core point of this debate; whether criminal law will solve the "problem," assuming arguendo that adult marijuana use is even a problem. The pastor neglects this fundamental question of criminality, probably because no sane person could argue that the current policy bears any resemblance to a success.
Raise your hand if you believe alcohol prohibition was a successful governmental policy, one that ought to be emulated and duplicated. Guarantee: both of your hands remain firmly lowered. There are few governmental policies in history that created more carnage, sheer harm, and wasted more money, time, and lives -- while utterly failing in even its most basic objective, to stop people from drinking -- than alcohol prohibition. Except for perhaps marijuana prohibition. Alcohol prohibition mercifully lasted only thirteen years, while marijuana prohibition has been pursued in earnest for at least 40 years, and still exists nationally and in every state.
Pastor Enyart spends the factual portion of his essay on the issue of whether marijuana is harmful, but never completes the logical link. In this, he commits the typical Prohibitionist error: the solution lies in government. The pastor asks us to simply assume that if something is "wrong" (in his opinion), then government should ban it. But even a violation of only two or three of the Ten Commandments consist of criminal law violations in this and nearly every other nation on Earth.
Even without the link, the foundation of the pastor's factual argument is built on sand. Cannabis is not only less harmful than alcohol, approximately 17,000 scientific studies have been conducted on the effects of cannabis. Unfortunately, other nations lead the scientific frontiers, since the United States Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") enforces an Orwellian information bottleneck here, probably fearing the loss of DEA jobs if truth is examined.
The pastor's concession, at the outset, that medical marijuana is acceptable, not sinful, not harmful, is good and right, and thus ought to be legal, exposes the weakness in the prohibitionist position. Mere laws cannot end, or even reduce, human demand for cannabis. Incidentally, this position puts Pastor Enyart to the left of the Obama administration, which has opted to use our scarce taxpayer dollars in attacking even the medical use of marijuana. Pastor Enyart's concession also firms up the link between marijuana prohibitionists and their philosophical forebears, the alcohol prohibitionists, who also conceded the "medicinal" use of alcohol. Prohibition also allowed the "spiritual" use of booze, for Catholic communion wine. Certainly, 100% of that wine was directly used by parishioners in communion ceremonies.
Pastor: "It's wrong to get high." Human beings "get high" from thousands of things, some of them drugs, most of them not; athletics, physical exertion, faith, nature, philosophy, music, poetry, laughter, literature, movies, animals, sports watching, or just about anything. There is nothing "wrong" with pursuing happiness. In this contention, the prohibitionist mentality shines through clearly.
Brief personal aside: in debating this issue for a decade, I am struck by the difficulty of locating advocates for the current policy of marijuana prohibition. Perhaps it is Politics 101: front-runners don't debate, and here, prohibitionists are the front-runners. Marijuana for recreation is still illegal in all 50 states, and other than Colorado this year, there is no honest effort to change this at the state or federal levels, Congress and the executive branch are the pictures of inaction and cowardice, and both parties are equally liable.
Accordingly, Pastor Enyart deserves respect for even doing this debate, when the government stormtroopers obtaining their paychecks from the Drug War Industrial Complex will not deign to explain or justify the policy. And Pastor Enyart provides a window into the real reasons for prohibition, that true definition of morality: "The sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having a good time." At least Pastor Enyart is forthcoming about why he thinks the answer to the putative marijuana problem is to place adult human beings in cold steel cages away from their homes, families, children, friends, and jobs. Most prohibitionists hide behind sanitized platitudes, but Enyart is real: marijuana is a sin, so America should judge, ridicule, and isolate "pothead" sinners ("smoking pot makes you slow and stupid"), and the government should place these sinners in jail. (Much of the New Testament was written in jail by inmates, interestingly.)
Finally, Pastor Enyart breathes life into the ultimate Reefer Madness-inspired argument: "And pot's quick intoxicating effect will weaken a man's moral compass and then, as the Bible warns of drunkenness, increase his lust for other women." Remember, the pastor concedes that medical marijuana is acceptable. Do not millions of American men take Viagra and Cialis, with a physician's medical blessing, specifically to increase their lust for women?
Some might argue that a plant which increases lust and passion, organically, without synthetic pills, would be a good thing for this soft and complacent America.
Marijuana is already "normalized." The majority of Americans have used it. Michael Phelps won a record number of Olympic Gold Medals and used marijuana. The last three presidents of the United States used it. The only difference between these presidents and my clients is that the latter were caught, and the former were not, and thus had political viability and careers which they then used to persecute marijuana consumers.
Legalize it. Stop locking Americans in cages for a plant.