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Drug Policy Reform & Religion


Reform Judaism endorses medical cannabis. 1

New Testament, historical Jesus, and drug policy reform.. 2

New Mexico Church Wins Ruling in Ayahuasca Case. 2

Ayahuasca-using Church wins Federal Court Ruling. 3

News: Christians for drug policy reform.. 4

News article: Religion vs. drug war 5

Article: Catholics Differ with Pope on Prohibition. 7

Article: Church Asks Govmts to Reject Legalization. 8


Reform Judaism endorses medical cannabis

"...members cited Jewish tradition as well as contemporary medicine. "According to our tradition," read the resolution, "a physician is obligated to heal the sick." The resolution cited Maimonides as the Talmudic authority. Less authoritative for the association was the state of research on medical marijuana."


Reform Judaism National Body Endorses Medical Marijuana

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/312/congregations.shtml --

Newsbrief: Reform Judaism National Body Endorses Medical Marijuana Media Scan: Jack Cole of LEAP on Cultural Baggage Radio Show Next Week Newsbrief: Reform Judaism National Body Endorses Medical Marijuana Media Scan: Jack Cole of LEAP on Cultural Baggage Radio Show Next Week 11/21/03

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which speaks for the largest Jewish denomination in the United States, the Reform movement, has adopted a resolution supporting the use of marijuana for medical reasons. At its 67th General Assembly the first week of November in Minneapolis, the Reform association urged elected officials to support federal legislation "to allow the medicinal use of marijuana for patients with intractable pain and other conditions, under medical supervision." The UAHC represents more than 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues.

The resolution also urged the Food and Drug Administration to act through its Investigational New Drug program "to move research forward more quickly toward an approved product," and called for further research on marijuana and its compounds to develop "reliable and safe cannabinoid drugs for management of debilitating conditions." And, urging its membership to put its money where its mouth is, the resolution called upon congregations "to advocate for the necessary changes in local, state and federal law to permit the medicinal use of marijuana and ensure its accessibility for that purpose."

To arrive at successful passage of the resolution, submitted by Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos, California, members cited Jewish tradition as well as contemporary medicine. "According to our tradition," read the resolution, "a physician is obligated to heal the sick." The resolution cited Maimonides as the Talmudic authority. Less authoritative for the association was the state of research on medical marijuana. The resolution cited "anecdotally based reports" of marijuana's efficacy, as well as the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, but found the latter "inconclusive."

To read the resolution online, visit:


New Testament, historical Jesus, and drug policy reform

Based on the article in the Salvia Divinorum issue #1, Doc Kunda adheres either to the paradigm "Jesus as entheogenic hierophant" or "Jesus as teacher of Christhood", a teaching also accessible through entheogens."

http://www.dockunda.com -- I didn't find relevant articles.

Entheogen scholars have a fairly even spread of views:

oJesus as entheogenic hierophant

oJesus as teacher of Christhood, a teaching also accessible through entheogens.

oJesus as entheogenic hierophant, though Jesus might possibly not exist

oJesus as mythic-only metaphor for the entheogen, like Dionysus

oJesus as mythic-only complex composite figure based on many themes including the entheogen and the experiences and insights it produces.

Many mythic-only Jesus researchers are favorably interested in the "Jesus as entheogen" theme.Many entheogen scholars are interested in "Jesus as mythic-only metaphor for the entheogen".The day is past when entheogen scholars could take it for granted that there was a historical Jesus.All entheogen scholars are now more or less aware of the existence, seriousness, and relevance of the mythic-only Jesus theory.

Entheogen scholars may be tempted to enlist the historical Jesus as ally for drug policy reform, but they have increasingly become aware that to do so is to build a house on a foundation of sand.Yes, Jesus per the scriptures is against prohibition of visionary plants, but Jesus is just a synthetic figure expressing, among other things, the use of so-called "wine" in Greco-Roman culture to produce ecstatic experiences and insight into the nature of personal agency.

Instead of saying that Mr. Jesus personally endorsed drug policy reform, a more relevant and enduring line of research is to establish that *all* Greco-Roman religion was based on the use of visionary plants in wine, including all the cultic banquets and mystery-religions, including Judaism and Christianity.

Strategically, it may be best for drug policy reformers to argue and win both scenarios: that if there was a historical Jesus, he was against drug prohibition, and even if there wasn't a historical Jesus, Christianity, like Judaism and all the Greco-Roman religions and philosophy schools, was based on the use of visionary plants in wine.

Few if any prohibitionists today put forth an explicit, reasoned argument that Jesus forbade drugs, or that the New Testament is prohibitionist.The moment they try, they find that the scriptures offer much better support for legalization.If the New Testament provides a basis for deciding on prohibition, it supports legalization, not prohibition.

New Mexico Church Wins Ruling in Ayahuasca Case

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New Mexico Church Wins Ruling in Ayahuasca Case 9/12/03

A New Mexico-based branch of the Brazilian Uniao do Vegetal (Union of the Vegetable, UDV) church has won a second victory in its legal battle with the US government over the church's sacramental use of hallucinogenic ayahuasca tea. On September 5, a three-judge panel of the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that the church's use of ayahuasca is likely to be protected under US religious freedom laws. Earlier, a US District Court in New Mexico had granted a preliminary injunction against the US Attorney General, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other government agencies that seek to bar ayahuasca use for religious purposes. In granting the preliminary injunction, the New Mexico court found that the UDV "demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success" of winning an exemption to the Controlled Substances Act for sacramental ayahuasca use.

Ayahuasca, a concoction brewed from two plants found only in the Amazon basin, contains DMT, a hallucinogen listed in the Controlled Substances Act. (In another case, federal courts in Georgia have ruled that the CSA listing of ayahuasca is correct -- see http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/dll/shoemaker1.htm for info). The current case originated in 1999, when US Customs agents raided the UDV's offices in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and seized some 30 gallons of the tea. Unluckily for the feds, the president of the US UDV is Jeffrey Bronfman, heir to the Seagram's whiskey fortune, who promptly sued for relief, claiming violations of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The UDV, with tens of thousands of members in Brazil, is recognized as a church there. In the US, where membership is in the low hundreds, the church, and its sacrament in particular, have yet to gain official approval.

Visit http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/dll/ayahuasca_index.htm for further information on this issue.

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Ayahuasca-using Church wins Federal Court Ruling

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U.S. Federal & New Mexico

-----Original Message-----

From: CCLE

Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2002 6:10 PM

To: cognitiveliberty...

Subject: [CogLib] Ayahuasca-using Church wins Federal Court Ruling


Federal Court Rules in Favor of Ayahuasca-using Church


Members of the ayahuasca-using religious group known as the Uniao Do Vegetal (UDV), won a major legal victory on Monday, when a federal court ruled that the groupís use of ayahuasca was likely protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA.

>> Read More at: http://www.alchemind.org/DLL/udv_pj_granted.htm

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News: Christians for drug policy reform

A Christian church pronouncement to decriminalize psychoactive drug use.Pretty weak, though, in that it doesn't defend entheogens and psychoactives as ancient traditional sacraments of salvation and enlightenment.

See also

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/christians_drugs020620.html - "... Those experiences led the 35-year-old mother of five to start the Christians for Cannabis Web site, and to begin a campaign of letter-writing to legislators, religious leaders and newspapers, urging an end to the marijuana prohibition and more research into potential uses of the drug ..."

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Is "knowing God" or "becoming drawn up into Christ" a "potential use"?


Sent: Monday, June 24, 2002 10:15 AM

To:... angnewspapers.com

Subject: LTE: LTE RE: Unitarian Universalist Association on Drug Policy reform.

Dear Editor,

Many of my fellows Christians regard the Unitarian Universalist Association (U-UA) as not of the Christian Faith.Be that as it may, it's hard to dispute that the U-UA isn't practicing His mandate to love and to forgive the least among us.This weekend the U-UA showed the courage to call for an effective end of America's futile, expensive and destructive War on Drugs.

On June 22, 2002, The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations passed a Statement of Conscience calling for "Alternatives to the War on Drugs."The religious denomination declared, "We do not believe that drug use should be considered criminal behavior."

We all owe a hearty thanks and kudos to the U-UA. Which denomination will have the courage to be next?

G. Sutliff


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PS.The following press release is provided FYI


Chuck Thomas, executive director

Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform



For Immediate Release††††††† June 24, 2002

Unitarian Universalist Association Breaks New Ground in Drug Policy Reform

Denomination Calls for an End to the Drug War: "Remove Criminal Penalties"

June 22, 2002 -- The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations passed a Statement of Conscience calling for "Alternatives to the War on Drugs."The religious denomination -- representing more than 1,000 congregations throughout the United States -- declared, "We do not believe that drug use should be considered criminal behavior."

The comprehensive Statement of Conscience was passed at the 2002 General Assembly of the denomination (headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts) by a two-thirds majority of delegates from the congregations.Recognizing that "the consequences of the current drug war are cruel and counterproductive," the Statement calls for "alternatives that regard the reduction of harm as the appropriate standard by which to assess drug policies."

The denomination's Principles recognize the "worth and dignity of every person" and advocate "justice, equity and compassion in human relations."The Statement of Conscience declares that the punitive, coercive drug policies of the United States violate these core religious principles.

Specific proposals include:

-- "Establish a legal, regulated, and taxed market for marijuana. Treat marijuana as we treat alcohol."

-- "Remove criminal penalties for possession and use of currently illegal drugs, with drug abusers subject to arrest and imprisonment only if they commit an actual crime (e.g., assault, burglary, impaired driving, vandalism)."

-- "Drug use, drug abuse, and drug addiction are distinct from one another. Using a drug does not necessarily mean abusing the drug, much less addiction to it. Drug abuse issues are essentially matters for medical attention. We do not believe that drug use should be considered criminal behavior."

-- "Make all drugs legally available with a prescription by a licensed physician, subject to professional oversight. End the practice of punishing an individual for obtaining, possessing, or using an otherwise illegal substance to treat a medical condition," and allow "medically administered drug maintenance" as a treatment option for drug addiction.

This groundbreaking Statement of Conscience goes beyond what any other religious denomination has thus far adopted.Unitarian Universalists plan to encourage other people of faith to follow suit.

"We are hopeful that this powerful Statement will pave the way for other denominations to join the movement for more just and compassionate drug policies," said Charles Thomas, executive director of Unitarian Universalists for Drug Policy Reform, the denomination affiliate that facilitated the congregations' study and development of the Statement of Conscience.

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News article: Religion vs. drug war

-----Original Message-----

From: T Roberts

Sent: Monday, January 20, 2003

To: maps-forum

Subject: Religion vs drug war


A new opposition front in the drug war

Criminalizing peaceful people who use psychoactive drugs to deepen their spiritual life is criminal itself, some groups are arguing

Salim Muwakkil. Salim Muwakkil is a senior editor at In These Times

January 20, 2003

A new front has opened in opposition to the war on drugs--a religious front.

Several newly formed groups are contesting our prohibitionist, anti-drug strategies because they restrict religious freedom and "cognitive liberty."

Drugs alter consciousness and "the right to control one's own consciousness is the quintessence of freedom," reads part of a manifesto of the Journal of Cognitive Liberties. The journal is one of many projects of the four-year-old Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, a California-based, non-profit group that promotes intellectual freedom. The group defines cognitive liberty as "the right of each individual to think independently and autonomously, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind and to engage in multiple modes of thoughts and alternative states of consciousness."

The group is involved in several projects designed to raise issues of cognitive liberty in relation to the war on drugs. In the journal's Summer 2000 edition, center co-director Richard Glen Boire wrote "the so-called `war on drugs' is not a war on pills, powder, plants and potions, it is war on mental states--a war on consciousness itself-- how much, what sort we are permitted to experience, and who gets to control it." Boire argued that much of the motivation for the war on drugs is an attack on "entheogenic" drugs (roughly, God evoking) that provoke "transcendent and beatific states of communication with the deity."

With this point, Boire lends his argument to a growing movement of Americans devoted to the use of entheogens. One branch of this movement calls itself "neo-shamanistic" and seeks out shamanic inebriants that have been used for centuries. They cite examples like peyote cactus and psilocybin mushrooms among Native Americans, ibogaine among indigenous Africans, soma in India and ayahuasca in the Amazonian rain forest.

Others are just spiritual seekers who argue that criminal sanctions on the use of these psychoactive sacraments restrict their religious freedom. Some make the argument that the state takes its cue from organized religions, which historically have demonized entheogens because they lessen the need for a clergy to connect God to humanity.

Many of the substances they champion (psilocybin, peyote/mescaline, LSD, marijuana, etc.) are the same drugs that were called psychedelic during the 1960s. These substances are now called entheogenic to distance them from the hedonistic excesses of the '60s drug culture.

Along with some newly discovered substances (salvia divinorium, phalaris grass, ibogaine, ayahuasca/yage, etc), some of which are still precariously legal, this fledgling movement is taking the spiritual high road in its opposition to the drug war.

Another one of the groups leading the charge is the Council on Spiritual Practices. Founded by Robert Jesse, 43, a former vice president of Oracle, the group focuses on evoking "primary religious experiences," which they believe can be evoked by many practices, including fasting, meditation, prayer, yoga and ingesting entheogenic drugs.

The group's signature text is "Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion," which explores many facets of entheogenic use. The book is an account of a 1995 conference held at the Chicago Theological Seminary that was devoted to the subject of entheogens and religion.

The council also has published Huston Smith's book, "Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals," a text that tackles the issue of drugs and spirituality in a series of wide-ranging essays.

Smith, 83, is a religious scholar and author of many books, including "The World's Religions," the most widely used textbook on its subject for more than 30 years. He also has produced three series for public television: "The Religions of Man," "The Search for America" and (with Arthur Compton) "Science and Human Responsibility."

In other words, Smith certainly is no fly-by-night bohemian just looking for a high. "I was extremely fortunate in having some entheogenic experiences, while the substances were not only legal, but respectable," Smith said, talking about his early experimentation with LSD, in a 2001 Salon magazine interview. "It seemed like only fair play that since I value those experiences immensely to do anything I could to enable a new generation to also have such experiences without the threat of going to jail."

Criminalizing peaceful people who use psychoactive drugs to deepen their spiritual experience or widen their cognitive horizons is criminal itself, these groups argue.

Their arguments are catching on.


salim4x at aol com

Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune

Article: Catholics Differ with Pope on Prohibition

Drugs, particularly entheogens, are the body of Christ and the main vehicle for the Holy Spirit.The Pope is against drugs, and thus is the antichrist.I posted recently about the two points of view: to the conventional moralist, entheogen use is the ultimate sin and taboo, the forbidden fruit that brings knowledge of -- that is, knowledge *about* -- good and evil.Eating this fruit demolishes conventional morality and leads the mind to transcend moral agency.To the mind that has transcended morality, entheogen use is salvation, the door to the Kingdom of God, in which one credits all oneís thoughts and actions to the timeless, all-powerful Creator.The below article is conventional because it doesnít worship entheogens, but assumes we should minimize all drug use.

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Catholic Progressives Differ with Pope on Drug Prohibition

Much to the Vatican's consternation over the centuries, the notion of papal infallibility has often bumped up against dissent from within the Church. Sometimes, papal pronouncements are quietly and widely ignored by the masses, as with John Paul II's teachings on birth control and premarital sex. On other issues, some members of the Church community feel so strongly that the pontiff is mistaken that they are willing to differ publicly with his teachings. Although church leaders tend to support progressive criminal justice reform (such as repealing the draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws), legalization itself is an issue on which the Pope and some Catholics have taken different sides.

Last week, DRCNet reported on the release of a Vatican pastoral manual restating the Church's position on drug policy. (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/214.html#thepope). In it, the Pope took a hard line in favor of prohibition, writing that "we must all fight against the production, creation, and distribution of drugs in the world, and it is the particular duty of governments to courageously confront this battle against 'death trafficking.'"

While acknowledging that prohibition could not eliminate drug use or the drug trade, the Pope call for "repression" along with prevention and treatment to fight drug use, which the manual called "incompatible" with Church moral teachings. Our article cited Father Miguel Concha, head of the church's Dominican Order in Mexico, as one prominent Catholic who disagrees with the Pontiff's pro-prohibition stance. Concha is not alone.

Father John Vogler, associate minister at Our Lady of Good Counsel in St. Louis, Missouri, told DRCNet that while he agreed with the Pope that it should not be easier for people to use drugs, there has to be a better way. "The Holy Father, like most good people, abhors drug abuse, but he is trying to control something that cannot be controlled," said Vogler.

"We as a church keep saying it shouldn't be legalized, but making something criminal isn't influence, that's force and fear," Vogler continued. "I think he is mistaken. Government cannot control an illegal business worth billions of dollars; it can only make matters worse. If you legalize it, there's always somebody willing to make a buck on human suffering, so let them make it, but we'll have reduced violence tremendously and put the drug lords out of business overnight," he argued.

"He says that drug use is against our moral teachings," said Vogler, who devotes much of his ministry to jail and prison inmates. "There are many things that are against our moral teachings, but we do not use fear and the force of government to combat them. The truth is our weapon. The Church needs to operate with truth and persuasion, not use the force of the government to twist people's arms. That harms government and it harms the Church."

Minnesota layman and drug reform activist Paul Bischke has a few theological bones to pick with the pontiff, too. "The Holy father needs to consult with that great doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, and particularly his whole formulation of the four cardinal virtues [prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude]," Bischke told DRCNet. "If you analyze the drug war in light of the four cardinal virtues, it fails every test. "It is imprudent, in that it fails to be realistic about what it can accomplish and fails to recognize its unintended consequences. It is unjust, for its symbolic, disproportionate punishments fail to give each man his due. Instead of temperance, it imposes abstinence. And it fails the test of fortitude because it is cowardly," explained Bischke.

Bischke also recommended St. John Chrystostom. "He said about alcohol that it was disrespectful to God to blame drunkenness on wine, for the vine was a creature of God," Bischke noted. "We need similar thinking about drug policy from a Catholic perspective. This is something that the social justice requirements of the Catholic faith demand, and that's where I come from."

Bischke, a professional writer in St. Paul, doesn't just talk the talk. A member of the Drug Policy Reform Group of Minnesota, he speaks to congregations around the area about drug policy. "Some folks get it," he said, "and faith-based activism can be really dynamic. But because the drug warriors have lied for so many years -- a real violation of justice -- many people make their decisions about drug policy based on false premises."

Swiss theologian Thomas Walliman backed up Bischke and added more ammunition for the heterodox. Walliman, director of the Institute of Social Ethics of the Catholic Workers movement of Switzerland (http://www.sozialinstitut-kab.ch) and author of "The Drug Policy Controversy" ("Drogenpolitik kontrovers" -- in German only), told DRCNet that there is room in Catholic theology for drug legalization or regulation.

"This is nothing new within Catholic theology, even if it is not the position of the Pope or the magisterium," Walliman wrote in email correspondence. "Not everything that is undesirable has to be forbidden by the church or the state, because it is possible to create more evil than good by forbidding something rather than regulating it. This is the case with your drug policies. Prohibition creates many more problems than drug use and addiction itself," he said.

Individuals have to answer their own ethical questions about drug use, wrote Walliman, but societies too must focus on reducing harm: "What form of regulation by the state best minimizes the evils of drug use, abuse and addiction?" is the question that must be asked, he wrote.

For Walliman, neither prohibition nor unregulated legalization are an ethically legitimate course. "It's necessary to regulate and have some controls, but not like now when everything is illegal," he wrote. "The proper legal instruments should fit the danger of the respective substances. Thus, for example, cigarettes would require showing an ID card because of the danger of addiction, while beer and cannabis teas would require lesser controls and hard alcohol and heroin would require greater controls," he suggested.

"Just as it is not possible to create heaven on earth or erase terrorism from the planet, neither can we erase drugs," Walliman wrote. "We have to learn to live in balance."

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Article: Church Asks Govmts to Reject Legalization

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Catholic Church Calls on World Governments to Reject Drug Legalization, But Says Repression Cannot Be Sole Response

In a new pastoral manual issued last week by the Vatican, the Catholic Church called on the governments of the world to resist the temptation to legalize the drug traffic. The manual, "Church, Drugs, and Drug Addiction," was produced by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry after Pope John Paul II called in 1997 for a study of "the distressing drug problem in the world."

The manual, which is not yet available online, opens with the words of John Paul II, the cleric who has led the Church since 1978. "The Pope tells us of three specific actions for a pastoral care program which confronts the drug problem," Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragan told a Vatican press conference heralding the release of the manual, "prevention, treatment and repression."

The text of the five-chapter manual refers in depth to prevention and treatment, but the Pope made his stance clear in his opening remarks. In them, the pontiff affirmed that "we must all fight against the production, creation, and distribution of drugs in the world, and it is the particular duty of governments to courageously confront this battle against 'death trafficking.'"

According to Archbishop Barragan, the Vatican is opposed to the legalization of any drugs, even soft drugs such as cannabis, because it considers their use incompatible with Christian morality. (Until copies of the manual are available, it remains unknown if the Church now finds alcohol use incompatible with Christian morality.) But, said Barragan, the Church understands that repression alone will not end drug use, and it will urge governments and societies to change their cultures to combat the problem.

Barragan accused the mass media, the movies and modern music of sending out messages that favored drug use and a generally permissive attitude. "Drugs serve to achieve an immediate pleasure in the effort to flee from internal unease so that users find no other type of solution," warned the prelate. He also reproached Western society for supporting a "deviation from liberty" that assumes people may do what they wish with their own bodies.

A spokesman for the US Council of Bishops told DRCNet that while they had not yet seen the manual, it was not a departure from current Church policy in this country. "The bishops are against the use of illegal drugs," said spokesman Bill Ryan. "I don't think this will affect their stance."

But just as the pontiff's conservative positions on other social issues have not won unanimous consent even within the hierarchy, John Paul II's restatement of Church doctrine on drugs clashes with the position taken by at least one prominent clergyman, Father Miguel Concha. In March, Concha, head of the Church's Dominican order in Mexico and president of the Mexican Academy of Human Rights, called for an examination of legalization at a Tijuana conference organized by an investigative journalists association (http://www.narconews.com/concha.html).

Reading from a document crafted for the occasion, Concha affirmed that, "We who are Civil Society and its organizations, with the decided support of a mass media genuinely committed to democratic values... propose to consult, in the most open, professional and objective manner, what our societies think and decide about the deregulation and progressive decriminalization of the production, commerce and consumption of certain types of drugs." "

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