In this year’s General Election, you will be able to vote in a referendum on whether the recreational use of cannabis should become legalised or not. But we the members of the public who hold the power to vote, should pause for a moment and examine the consequences of legalising such a drug. Ask yourself will it do more harm than good?
In the UK, a controversial case came to public attention involving the use of medicinal cannabis, which is a form of cannabis used in the treatment of certain health conditions. The mother of a 12-year-old child suffering from severe epilepsy reignited the debate about legalising the drug after saying it was the only drug that helped calm her son’s daily life-threatening seizures. This ignited a fierce debate about its consumption amid public sympathy for the young child.
Cannabis also contains cannabidiol (CBD) which has been shown to help reduce seizures in children with severe epilepsies and in the USA medicinal use of cannabis is already legal in 31 states.
That does indeed sound like a very compelling reason to vote “Yes” to legalise the recreational use of Cannabis. But there’s more to this than meets the eye
Whilst clearly there are some medical benefits of cannabis, the evidence suggests that when higher amounts of cannabis are consumed, users may have unpleasant experiences, including confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia, depending on their mood and circumstances.
Some users may experience psychotic symptoms with hallucinations and delusions lasting a few hours, which can be very unpleasant. Regular use of the drug has appeared to double the risk of developing a psychotic episode or long-term schizophrenia.
So, we can clearly see that beyond medicinal use the drug serves no other beneficial purpose. Therefore, ask yourself why would you want to put yourself through such an unpleasant experience and harm your body & mind by consuming a drug like Cannabis in recreational use?
So, what does Islam say about the use of drugs such as cannabis, at a time when more and more countries are contemplating the idea of legalisation of such drugs not only for medicinal use but also for casual consumption?
They ask thee concerning wine and the game of hazard. Say: ‘In both there is great sin and also some advantages for men; but their sin is greater than their advantage.’ And they ask thee what they should spend. Say: ‘What you can spare.’ Thus does Allah make His commandments clear to you that you may reflect. (Quran 2:220)
The Qur’an clearly states that there is some good. However, with drugs such as cannabis the harm outweighs its benefits. Muslims are warned about cognitive affects that such substances can have in impairing one’s thinking.
Furthermore, the Holy Prophet Muhammad stated:
Every intoxicant is unlawful and whatever causes intoxication in large amounts, a small amount of it is (also) unlawful.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, elaborates on this further:
Unlike the Gospel, which allows its followers to drink alcohol so long as they are not intoxicated by it, the Qur’an forbids it’s consumption completely. Otherwise, you would be lost from the path that leads to God and His converse, nor would God cleanse such a person of their impurities. The Qur’an says that such things are the invention of Satan and you should guard yourself against them.
Even if they do not cause harm in small quantities, the Promised Messiah admonishes that the reason why intoxicants are forbidden is because recreational drug use affects not just the individual, but the society as a whole.
We can realise from personal experience or seeing the outcome of others that it usually starts with our minds convincing us into believing that trying a little won’t make any difference but that is where it takes effect and the seed for long term addiction is planted and from this stems the misery of fighting to escape the use of drugs like Cannabis which leads to the mental health issues like stress, depression etc.
We do not have to look very far to see the effects of such drugs. An easy example to look at is the effects of Cigarettes, half of all long-term smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. (Ministry of Health, 2019)
Around 5,000 people die each year in New Zealand because of smoking or second-hand smoke exposure. That’s 13 people a day. (Ministry of Health, 2019) Every cigarette you smoke is harming nearly every organ and system in your body. More than 60 of the chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause cancer. Smoking is the cause of over 80 percent of lung cancer in New Zealand. (Ministry of Health, 2019) Now we see with cigarettes people have realised its ill effects and so there are clear warning labels on cigarette packets.
Then there is Alcohol, and there is research which indicates that driving ability is impaired after consuming any level of alcohol and is a major cause of road injury in New Zealand. (“Drinking & driving,” 2020)
The Promised Messiah states:
All those wealthy persons who consume alcohol also carry the sins of the people who intoxicate themselves under their influence. You who claim to possess understanding! Know that this world is not eternal, so take hold of yourselves. Eschew all immoderation and abstain from every type of intoxicant. It is not alcohol alone that ruins a person. Opium, ganja, charas, bhang, tarhi and all other addictions are similarly destructive. They ruin the mind and destroy lives. So, shun all such substances. I cannot understand why one would choose to indulge in these intoxicants when, year on year, they claim the lives of thousands of addicts – not to mention the torment of the hereafter.
When a person becomes addicted to drugs then it becomes difficult for him to stop. What are drugs? On one hand they destroy life and on the other hand they are too sustenance for life. If a drug addict does not get a dose of the drug then his condition can reach death.
And so, for the good of our nation and our people we must take the right step in voting for recreational use of Cannabis not becoming legal in New Zealand. As this will not only be destructive on the individual level, but it will also be the seed which leads to the destruction of the society as a whole in the years to come.
- Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Noah’s Ark (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Limited, 2016),114-115.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Malfuzat, vol.2, 423.