What Can Sharks and Jellyfish Teach Us About Marijuana and President Obama?

What Can Sharks and Jellyfish Teach Us About Marijuana and President Obama?

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A glimpse inside the oceans can help us answer the question about whether or not marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

The New Yorker’s January 27 profile on the U.S. president has kindled debate over many views Mr. Barack Obama expressed, but nothing in the piece grabbed more attention—both positive and negative—than his statements saying marijuana isn’t more dangerous than alcohol.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol. … [I]t’s important for [legalization of marijuana] to go forward.”

The statements sparked delight across the nation among fraternity members, Rastafarians, fans of the Grateful Dead and Lil Wayne, and plenty of “regular Americans” too. But is smoking pot really no more dangerous than drinking alcohol?

Let’s consider the question by consulting three authorities.

Science

“It appears that President Obama is ignoring the science, but favoring the politics of pot,” said Dr. Eric Voth, Chair of the Institute on Global Drug Policy.

Science has produced an abundance of data showing that, when alcohol is abused (i.e. consumed in high doses), it becomes poisonous and can lead to a whole host of medical problems, including fatal overdoses.

But it is extremely rare for smokers of marijuana to suffer fatal overdoses.

That difference is emphasized ad nauseam by anyone “favoring the politics of pot,” as Dr. Voth says. It’s the leitmotif of marijuana propaganda. It is undeniable proof, pot advocates say, that smoking cannabis is less dangerous than drinking alcohol.

But the argument operates from a ridiculously slender definition of “dangerous.”

Since when, after all, is toxicity the only factor to consider in assessing the danger of a substance? Here are a few irrefutable findings from hard science about the dangers of pot smoking:

A 2001 study called “Neuropsychological performance in long-term cannabis users” proved that marijuana’s adverse impact on the brain can last days or even weeks after the high from the drug wears off. This means people who smoke it daily or even weekly are functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level at all times. They experience distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in problem solving and trouble with learning/memory.

A 2012 Duke University study showed that IQ scores dropped for teenagers who started smoking marijuana and continued into adulthood.

Another study found that long-term pot smoking causes changes in the brain like those that occur after long-term use of harder drugs. Still another study proved that regularly smoking the drug significantly reduces an individual’s motivation and ambition. This is, in part, because of its effect on brain cells containing dopamine.

Research proves that cannabis use also often leads to addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 9 percent of people who start smoking sporadically in their adult years become addicted to pot. This number jumps to 17 percent for users who begin smoking pot at younger ages. And it leaps to 25 to 50 percent for those who smoke daily.

Numerous studies associate marijuana with respiratory disease and mental illness, including schizophrenia. Studies also show chronic use to increase rates of depression, suicidal thinking and anxiety.

Research shows that although cannabis does not normally cause fatal overdoses, it can lead users to engage in all kinds of behaviors that cause death.

Consider this analogy:

Is it more dangerous to swim through a tank full of Irukandji jellyfish, or one containing some nurse sharks?

With the jellyfish, you’d be pretty much guaranteed to make it to the other side alive. But no matter how long you stayed in the water, and no matter how carefully you swam through it, you would definitely sustain numerous stings. The stings would cause serious physical and psychological symptoms.

Nurse sharks, on the other hand, are harmless and even love to be petted by people. If you swam through their tank cautiously and respectful of their power, you’d be guaranteed to make it across without any injuries. You would probably even have an enjoyable time with the beautiful, gentle giants, as many divers and snorklers do! But if you behaved irresponsibly by punching or otherwise abusing one of the sharks, it would likely attack and possibly kill you.

Drinking alcohol is like swimming through the tank of nurse sharks: It’s not dangerous if it’s done responsibly and cautiously. But smoking marijuana is like crossing that pool of Irukandji jellyfish: There’s absolutely no way to get through it without sustaining some pretty significant damage.

Law and Order

The federal Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance. That means pot is one of “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

It also means the government is obligated to enforce laws banning marijuana equally across the nation. Everyone in Washington and Colorado who smokes pot, or allows cannabis sales, is breaking federal law.

The White House website summarizes the official stance of the federal government: “The administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people.”

According to the website, “Confusing messages being presented by popular culture, media, proponents of ‘medical’ marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction.”

After his subversive comments on the topic, Mr. Obama’s name may need to be included on the list of messengers who confuse people by pushing those “false notions.”

The Ultimate Authority

Finally, let’s examine this question from the point of view of the Holy Bible, which is, after all, the Creator’s “instruction manual” for mankind.

The Bible does not mention marijuana, but many regular smokers of the drug claim that their habit is sanctioned by something God told Adam back in Eden: “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (Genesis 1:29).

Cannabis smokers are especially fond of this King James rendering of the verse since it uses the word “herb”—a common modern nickname for marijuana.

One post on Marijuana.com clumsily ties this scripture to several others to create a long-winded and painfully contrived article whose purpose is to comfort Christian smokers “who find themselves struggling with the moral issues related to marijuana.”

A visitor to the website demonstrates the effects of the drug in a candid comment on that article: “Too long to read and I’m stoned …. So just tell me. Does [God] like it that I smoke?”

It’s a fair question, and can be answered in part by looking at the word “meat” in that scripture. It is translated from the Hebrew oklah, and very specifically means food. The verse is clearly talking about edible vegetation. This passage doesn’t give the green light to smoking marijuana any more than it sanctions ingesting poison ivy or hemlock.

Numerous studies prove that smoking anything is harmful to our lungs. God says people should glorify Him in our bodies: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price: So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Revised Standard Version).

The Bible also emphasizes, in Romans 13 and elsewhere, that God wants people to obey the laws of the nations they live in (as long as those laws don’t require breaking His law).

What does the Bible say about drinking alcohol? Unlike the subject of smoking marijuana, the Bible does discuss many specific aspects of drinking.

Scripture cautions sternly against excess drinking. It issues clear warnings about what the results of drunkenness can be in passages like Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:21, Isaiah 5:22, Proverbs 20:1 and Proverbs 23:21, 30-32. The Bible is adamant that people should not become inebriated by anything because it robs us of self-control and can lead to numerous problems.

But Scripture also reveals that—when used in moderation—alcohol is a gift from God! Psalm 104:15 lists it among blessings God gave to mankind. In 1 Timothy 5:23, the Apostle Paul says a little wine can be good for digestion; recent studies have proven that to be true. Alcohol is also listed as something that can bring greater enjoyment to celebratory situations (e.g. Deuteronomy 14:26; John 2). Old Testament prophecies about the joyous Millennium also sometimes use wine to symbolize the abundance of spiritual and physical blessings that will fill the Earth (Amos 9:13).

It’s true that many men and women have turned the blessing of alcohol into a curse, and many lives have been damaged or ended by abuse of the drink. But alcohol can be enjoyed moderately and correctly. Marijuana, however, can not be smoked in any way that is correct and healthy.

Science, the law of the U.S., and the ultimate authority of the Holy Bible agree that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. President Obama’s statements to the contrary were built on lopsided and discredited arguments.

“[E]ither he is seriously ill-informed about the issue or is completely ignoring warnings from his highly esteemed advisers,” the Drug-Free America Foundation wrote of the president’s remarks. It was “an irresponsible move for such a person in the most highly regarded position in this country.”

Whether the president likes it or not, he plays a key role in setting the moral tone of the United States. His decision to wade into this controversial topic and flippantly undermine U.S. law is hastening the nation’s slide into lawlessness and destabilization.

The most alarming part is that the destabilization he is accelerating may not be as accidental or cavalier as it may, at first glance, appear. To understand more, read America Under Attack.

Prepare for Eternity!

Number your days—make the most of your time with God and with your family.

What are you doing with your time? Are you numbering your days, as Moses wrote in Psalm 90? Are you using the precious time you have to prepare for the coming Kingdom of God? Are you showing God, in the way you live today, that you can handle eternity tomorrow?

Germany’s Africa Strategy

Germany’s Africa Strategy

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How Germany’s African policy is winning Berlin power in Europe

On January 28, the United Nations Security Council gave its approval for the European Union to deploy troops in the Central African Republic. Around 500 are expected to go, though EU leaders have agreed to send up to 1,000. These soldiers will join the 1,600 French and 5,000 African Union soldiers already present.

It’s not clear where these troops are coming from, but one nation has already said it won’t be sending any: Germany.

Why not? Regular Trumpet readers will be familiar with the situation in North Africa. As authoritarian regimes that once held back radical Islam fall, extremists are spreading west, across North Africa. It’s a danger that Europe, especially Germany, is well aware of, which is why France led an intervention in Mali last year.

Islamic rebels toppled the Central African Republic’s (car) government last year. Since then, disorder and violence have spread across the nation as religious and ethnic differences turn violent.

There is a clear danger here. The car borders Sudan, Iran’s biggest ally in the region. A chaotic car could radically expand the reach of Iranian-led radical Islam, giving easy access to the Gulf of Guinea and the jungles of the Congo.

So why is Germany sitting it out? It’s all part of another, much less intense rivalry, this time with a near neighbor: France.

Rivalry Within Europe

Germany has already used the car to score a major victory over the French. Last year, there was no bigger rival to Germany’s leadership of Europe than French President François Hollande. As he began his presidency, he promised to fight against German austerity and to pioneer an alternative. Some believed he would lead all of southern Europe in a revolt. But that never happened.

Soon after coming into office, Hollande launched his offensive in Mali. Germany backed him. Radical Islam was an urgent threat: The situation was too serious to use as a pawn in a game of Europolitics with France.

Then Paris went into the car, alone, without taking the matter to the EU.

France’s economy was already weak; it was probable that the French would someday need a bailout themselves. With the government budget stretched close to its limit, the nation had to bear the burden of two extra substantial military deployments.

So, this past December, Hollande turned to the EU for support, desperate for money just as much for as EU troops. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said no. France could not launch a military mission and then turn around and ask for a check, she explained.

Then came France’s historic capitulation on January 14. The French president told the world that Germany’s austere leadership was actually what Europe needed after all. Thus, even if Hollande fails to follow through on the economic policies he announced at that press conference, he has relinquished his role as the anti-German champion.

Hollande then spent most of the rest of the conference discussing German-France military relations—leading the Trumpet to note, “The focus on defense cooperation suggests that Germany may have agreed to allow the EU to pay for part of France’s military mission in the Central African Republic” in exchange for France shifting its stance.

We didn’t have to wait long to find out. On January 20—less than a week later—EU foreign ministers announced they would send up to 1,000 soldiers. Merkel had reversed her veto, giving France the support it wanted.

Germany’s initial refusal to support France played a major role—perhaps even the major role—in forcing France to capitulate on European economic leadership. Hollande has now joined a new Franco-German partnership. Except this is no longer an alignment of approximate equals. France, with its near crippled economy, is very much the junior partner.

Rivalry Within Africa

Even though Germany has allowed the EU to support France’s efforts in car, it is still refusing to provide direct German help. It has offered logistical support, but currently the support it is offering is so useless that no one is likely to take up the offer.

Here Germany’s strategy is part of an attempt to replace France as the leading European power in north and central Africa.

Historically France has been the dominant colonial power in the area. Even now, many of the countries speak French as their main language. France maintains military bases in many of its former colonies and even gets very involved in their governments—even to the point of booting out leaders it doesn’t like and propping up those it does.

But even with all those advantages, France is losing its economic connection to the region. In 1960, around 17 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s trade was with France—second only to the UK’s. As recently as the year 2000, France was the main exporter to sub-Saharan Africa. Now it is in fifth place, behind China, America, India and Germany.

Germany’s rise at France’s expense is particularly noteworthy. It is understandable that France would lose ground compared to China—a rising superpower aggressively expanding its influence in the region—or America. These are all major powers located far away from France and with very different economies. But Germany is right next door. The two nations have the same currency and similar transport costs. Their economies broadly follow the same cycles. Both nations are increasing the amount they export to Africa, even while their total share of exports decrease. But why is Germany able to increase that trade with Africa faster than France despite all of France’s advantages?

Germany is not content to let France manage North Africa on Europe’s behalf. It has its own, separate interests in the region. And it is worried that France will try to use its military operations to regain the influence it has been losing to Germany, among others.

So instead of sending troops to car, Germany has offered to increase its presence in Mali—freeing up France to send more to the car. Rather than being France’s lackey, Germany is concentrating its limited resources in one place, so it can maximize its influence in Mali. Remember, Germany’s army was built to defend the Fatherland from a Soviet invasion, not to fight missions abroad. It is in the process of reform, but has nearly 5,000 soldiers stationed abroad—mainly in Afghanistan, but also with sizable deployments in the Balkans, the Horn of Africa, Turkey and Lebanon. It can’t easily send thousands of troops into different African countries. It must be choosy about where it gets involved.

That limitation could soon change. Over recent weeks, key German leaders have been proclaiming a revolution in German foreign policy, one that would end the nation’s traditional reluctance to deploy troops.

But for now, Germany has about 100 soldiers in Mali on a training mission that expires this month, with parliamentary approval for up 180. The new German defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, wants to extend the mission and expand the number of soldiers to 250. She is also making the case for Germany doing more in the world, both to look after its own interests, and because, “From a purely humanitarian perspective, we can’t look away when murder and rape are taking place daily.”

Germany is already doing well in Mali. When Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta traveled to Europe, it was Germany that he hailed as Mali’s “most important partner” and, on “the international level,” its “main partner country.” That statement is a bit odd, considering that France was the nation that put him in power.

But German ambitions stretch further. Writing for the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, a think tank that advises the German parliament and government on foreign policy, research group leader for the Middle East and Africa Dr. Annette Weber wrote, “For the long-term development” of the car, “France is the wrong partner.” France’s knowledge and history of the country makes it the most suitable leader of a quick military intervention, she concluded. But “In the long-term stabilization and support of political actors … France should hold back just because of its past.”

Her message matches German actions. Germany will allow and even support France as it confronts radical Islam in Africa. But it won’t allow France to use these missions to rebuild its influence in its former colonies.

Instead, just as France’s economic weakness has brought it under German leadership within Europe, watch for these same weaknesses to enable Germany to take the lead in North Africa.

God’s Iron Will

The indispensable core quality of God’s perfect, holy, righteous character.

It’s hard to make changes. Many set goals or resolutions in hopes of bettering their lives, but these plans are often abandoned. Why is it so difficult to make productive changes in our lives?

Iran Exposes America’s Geneva Lies

Iran Exposes America’s Geneva Lies

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Iran points out the difference between the Geneva deal and what the U.S. administration is saying.

A high-level Iranian official made a series of bold challenges regarding the recent six-month interim nuclear deal. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif claimed on January 22 that Washington has falsely portrayed information from the supposedly “historic deal.” Zarif, who was instrumental in negotiating the deal in Geneva, told cnn Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto that the Obama administration has been lying to the world about the deal. He said the White House interpretation of the deal “underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitments.”

A White House fact sheet issued after the deal states that Iran is committed to “rolling back key elements,” including halting the enrichment of uranium beyond 5 percent, neutralizing its stockpile of near-20 percent uranium, stopping enrichment capability, and halting progress on the growth of its 3.5 percent stockpile of uranium.

But Zarif brought up a valid point in his interview with cnn. None of these commitments involve dismantling the infrastructure that makes production possible. Yet this is exactly what the U.S. has repeatedly said that Iran is going to do. Zarif continued the interview: “The White House tries to portray [the deal] as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program. That is the word they use time and time again.”

Zarif went on to say that “we are not dismantling any centrifuges, we’re not dismantling any equipment, we’re simply not producing, not enriching over 5 percent.”

Zarif is completely correct in saying that the perspective Washington is trying to portray is false. Read for yourself the “key elements” for “rolling back” the nuclear program by clicking this link. You will see that there is nothing about destroying nuclear infrastructure.

Now consider the statements that the U.S. has been using. “Roll back” is a curious term. What is being rolled back? Is Iran being forced to take any real steps backward? Neutralizing its stockpile of near-20 percent uranium could be considered a step back, but is hardly effectual considering it doesn’t destroy Iran’s ability to start producing more at a moment’s notice. Halting enrichment isn’t a backward step; it’s just standing in place.

Bret Stephens from the Wall Street Journal explained that the demand of the deal on Iran was to “Not stop or suspend [nuclear technologies], mind you, much less dismantle them, but merely reduce their pace from run to jog when they’re on Mile 23 of their nuclear marathon” (Nov. 11, 2013)

In response to Zarif’s comments, a senior U.S. official told cnn, “We expected that the Iranians would need to spin this for their domestic political purposes, and are not surprised they are doing that.” This statement is disingenuous if it isn’t ignorant. Tehran is far less interested in selling the Geneva deal to its population as it is determined to gain nuclear weapons for itself.

The general population in Iran should be excited about the nuclear deal. After all, it means sanctions relief that will save the ailing economy and halt the skyrocketing cost of living. The main opposition to the deal comes from radicals and hard-line Islamists—but they pose little threat to Rouhani so long as the ayatollah, Iran’s supreme leader, continues to support Rouhani’s decisions.

The Iranian regime isn’t merely attempting to appease domestic opponents by saying that it won’t be dismantling its nuclear program. Iran is actively demonstrating that it has no plans on ending its quest to obtain nuclear weapons! The Geneva deal will not force it to stop, despite how the U.S. might portray it.

White House officials are continually using terms such as “roll back” and “dismantle” in an effort to sell the Geneva deal both domestically and internationally. But as Iran is showing, it is a sham. The deal doesn’t entail Iran making any lasting changes. This is no historic breakthrough.

In an article released shortly after President Obama’s infamous phone call to Rouhani, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said that Iran “knows that the U.S. is finished! There is nothing to stop its nuclear ambitions! And it isn’t going to relax—it is going to proceed full steam ahead!”

That is exactly what we see today. Tehran is taking advantage of loopholes, ignoring agreements and exploiting the weak deals that the international community has made. Continue to watch as Iran charges ahead with its nuclear ambitions. It is all headed toward the fulfillment of great prophecies in the Middle East, including the rise of the king of the south—a power bloc of radical Islamic nations to be headed up by Iran.

If you are interested in the way that world events are unfolding in the Mideast, and want to understand more than the who, what, when and where—to grasp the all-important why—then be sure to pick up a copy of The King of the South, and History and Prophecy of the Middle East. These booklets—along with the articles published on theTrumpet.com, will give you a comprehensive insight into the prophetic significance of the ongoing turmoil in the region, and the joy-filled conclusion that today seems so out of reach.

Christ’s Digression After the Fourth Seal

There are seven seals covered in the book of Revelation. In fact, that is what the book of Revelation is all about. Jesus Christ explains those seven seals in Matthew 24. After He covers the first four seals He digresses away from the main subject and goes back to A.D. 70 and Jerusalem. He digressed just before the fifth seal, or the Great Tribulation. What does that all mean?