With the legalization of recreational marijuana in a few states this summer, no longer can the argument against marijuana be that people are supposed to obey those in authority over them (in this instance, the government, who said that marijuana was illegal, but now it is legal) Because marijuana can be used legally now, what arguments do Protestants use against the use of it?
This Protestant (viz., moi) suggests that smoking marijuana is analogous to drinking alcoholic beverages. They are both intoxicating, and they both involve a kind of surrendering to the control of the active drug in each substance.
The most famous verse in the New Testament in this regard is in Paul's letter to the believers in Ephesis:
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heard to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (5:18-20 NASB Updated).
To be sure, Christians can be filled with all kinds of ersatz pleasures (e.g., pornography and sexual immorality, overeating, excessive entertainments and amusements, gossiping, coarse talking and "dirty" jokes, and sensuality, to name but a few), and while God has given us all things richly to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17), he has also given us some pretty clear guidelines on how (and even if) we are to enjoy them.
Moderation is one such principle; legality is another; the encouraging and edifying of one another is a third; the quality of our witness before a watching world is a fourth; the effects that the exercise of our freedoms might have on another believer who may not share our freedom (see Romans 14 and 15, and 1 Corinthians 6:12 ff. in this regard) is a fifth; and the short- and long-term effects of some pleasures on our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), to name but a few principles.
In conclusion, the legality of any behavior is but one of many principles we Christians are to be guided by in the things we do, say, and think. Arriving at a godly balance of these principles may be difficult at times, but God the Holy Spirit is ready, willing, and able to guide us into the kinds of behaviors and thought patterns which accomplish both his purposes for our lives and at the same time bring edification to others and glory to himself. In my opinion, pot smoking is not one of those behaviors.
In conclusion, an anecdote. I have a neighbor who claims to be a Bible-believing Christian. He also claims to have the "liberty" to smoke pot. Interestingly, he is also living with a woman who is not his wife (and who is not his first POSSLQ,** either); he is sporadic in his gathering with other believers for worship and fellowship; and he engages in pot smoking with his unbelieving friends. By the way, he lives in a state in which the possession of pot is a crime. If you were to take away the illegality of what he's doing by smoking pot, would you say the rest of his life is a sterling example to Christians and non-Christians alike as to how a Christian should behave?
An acronym used by the Internal Revenue Service, meaning Person of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters
Because marijuana can be used legally now, what arguments do Protestants use against the use of it?
A few arguments come to mind.
The use of debilitating intoxicants (both pot and wine can be considered here);
Proverbs 23:29-35 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
It is interesting how similar it sounds to a Peter Frampton song;
Well, woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand.
Whose wine? What wine? Where the h**l did I dine?
Must have been a dream I don't believe where I've been.
Come on, let's do it again.
Another reason is the influence believers can have on fellow believers (particularly someone who has a real problem with handling intoxicants.
Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
Recent studies have show a relationship between strong pot (10-14% THC) and brain damage that leads to psychosis.
1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
Pot may have some therapeutic use (as does wine). However, recreational use tends to act like a one way time machine where when you get to the future you are older but no wiser.