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Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics jumps into Bible, pot debate

A woman smoking marijuana.
A woman smoking marijuana.

Photo courtesy of Stanimir G.Stoev via Shutterstock

A woman smoking marijuana

OKLAHOMA CITY (RNS) The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics briefly used its official Facebook page on Aug. 26 to debate marijuana and the Bible. After two commenters posted references to the Bible in response to a story about the detrimental effects of marijuana on the brain, a bureau employee engaged them in a theological argument.

Joshua Lewelling, a medical marijuana legalization activist and retired Air Force veteran who lives in Inola, Okla., posted a reference to Genesis 1:29: “And I give you every seed-bearing plant to use for food for it is good.”

The response to Lewelling’s initial response rankled Lewelling because he believed the bureau was lecturing him about his own Christian faith.

“I was talking about the obvious benefits of ingesting marijuana, not smoking it to get high,” Lewelling said. He works for Green the Vote, an organization that recently petitioned the state government to legalize medical marijuana.

The agency’s response seemed to go beyond simple discussion of drug policy into sermonizing about the merits of the Bible. After writing that the verse in Genesis is “about God’s plan to provide food to sustain life,” the bureau employee wrote, “You can’t cherry-pick scripture to find verses that fit your argument. You must take the Bible for all its worth.”

Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the agency, said it regularly responds to people commenting on the Facebook page.

“Our answer was based on research and interpretation, and we replied with what we believe is accurate information,” Woodward said. “We’re not endorsing religion. We would respond to comments about the Quran or the NFL playbook if they were referenced.”


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Greg Horton


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  • I hear that line from evangelicals all the time – you can’t cherry-pick scripture.

    I think you have to. There is all kinds of stuff in scripture – the totality from Genesis to Revelation does not form a succinct source of authority because it wasn’t written that way. It actually wasn’t written at all – the books that comprise it were written and compiled together to form a library of books. We abuse it to treat it as one book and we abuse it to treat it in the same manner in which people once treated the Law. That treats the New Covenant as though it were Old Covenant 2.0. It is not.

    We are in the same shoes as the early church, which did not have the canonized Bible we have – they were responsible to walk in the Spirit as things developed as they went along. This doesn’t justify our going outside the orthodoxy they created, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, but we would be amiss to operate in a way that says “open mind, insert book.” They didn’t operate that way and…

  • Please stop promoting the canard that marijuana is a drug. In truth it’s a medicinal herb, evolved in service to human beings for thousands of years.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting people to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, break up their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” –John Erlichman

    Prohibition of marijuana is a premise built on a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In November of 2011 a study at the University of Colorado found that, in the thirteen states that decriminalized…