Dear Matzav Shmooze,
This conversation has been a long time coming. It started with little whispers here and there, a joke made by the shul kiddush, a knowing smile shared between two glazed faces in middle of a wedding. Personally, this new reality hit home for me when I walked outside my shul on Simchas Torah and had smoke blown in my face. I’m talking, of course, about the prevalence of marijuana in America and its slow creeping crawl into the mainstream of our communities.
For years, marijuana was placed into the same category as other classically dangerous drugs; it was something done by lowlifes, the dregs of society. But as the years went by, the lines have blurred. Suddenly marijuana, also known as weed, has become legal in many States. This week, Canada became the second country to completely legalize the use of recreational marijuana. Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey ran his campaign on a promise to legalize the drug in his first 100 days in office.
As for our own community, weed has always been associated with the OTD faction of the community. But more and more, I’m finding regular frum people, generally the younger crowd, who are comfortable with the idea. Some will admit to having tried it themselves!
I am by no means an expert on this matter. A lifelong teetotaler, this is beyond my understanding. That being said, we as a community should be having a discussion about what this all means. Are we going to let this newfangled substance slip into our midst without at least knowing the consequences? Should we not take a stance now before it’s already accepted as normal? Watching the world’s perspective shift on this issue I think there are a few questions we should be asking.
Is marijuana just a way to relax, similar to alcohol? Is it on its way to acceptance in the frum community? What’s the Torah approach to such things? Is there a way to keep it out of our neighborhoods? Will marijuana addiction become a new crisis? Do I have to worry about my children being exposed to these dangerous toxins?
And these are just a few of the questions. While the subject hasn’t gained much traction yet in the Jewish community, as legalization becomes more and more widespread and the industry continues its record growth, the questions will keep on coming. This might be the perfect time to start the conversation.
A Concerned Member of the Community