Marijuana has long been a target of condemnation in black churches. And with good reason: Pastors have seen how racially biased enforcement of marijuana laws has affected their communities and followers.
But three black priests in Florida reflect a national trend in changing attitudes toward cannabis, particularly its legal use for medicinal purposes. Dr. Erta C. Livingston Jr., Reverend Leo Stoney, and Dr. Lonnie Davis Wesley III support medical marijuana as a doctor-authorized treatment, saying its use is no different than taking any prescribed medication.
Dr. Livingston is the senior pastor of God’s Faith No. 1 Church in Gainesville and director of patient services at UF Health Jacksonville. Working in hospitals has changed his view when it comes to using medical marijuana to treat people in pain.
“I see pain every day. I put my hands on them, I do all the spiritual things I need, but sometimes the pain goes on. So, in a compassionate way, I want to support whatever it takes to relieve the pain. If a doctor prescribes medical marijuana, you get my support. I won’t put you down. on the altar and send you to hell.”
Reverend Stoney of Max Out Church in Melbourne added: “This is definitely a taboo subject because we are priests, right? I come back to this. If there is a cure for cancer, there is a medicine for COVID now, and there is a medicine for everything else, so why was there no medicine prescribed before? A doctor who has been tested and proven to make someone in pain feel better?”
Dr. Wesley of Greater Little Rock Baptist Church in Pensacola said worshipers should not concern themselves with the church’s position on medical marijuana.
He stressed that “the medicines prescribed by your doctor for your medical care are not the prerogative of the Church.” “Do what you need to do medically to help you have a better quality of life.”
The pastors all agreed that education about medical marijuana was key to their acceptance of the drug.
On the topic of recreational marijuana, all three have reservations about its legalization regardless of whether it is by the state or the federal government.
For more information about eligible conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana under Florida law, go online please visit the website knowthefactsmmj.com.
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