June 25, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — When you think of a Catholic University, you probably think of a top-notch school with high moral standards, a focus on shaping future thought leaders, and strengthening Christ-like ideals of love, forgiveness, charity, and hope in their student body.
Yet for Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, a Jesuit institution, the aspirations are much higher. They want to teach your college-aged students about cannabis agriculture, law, and policy, and the challenges and opportunities of working in this booming industry. For a six-month course, at the low price of $2,950 (payment plans available), you can receive a certificate proving that you’re ready to grow, harvest, and sell cannabis.
The university’s website touts the industry’s growth and potential. A promotional video highlights that the cannabis job market is enjoying an astounding 135% growth — renewable energy, counseling/psychiatry, and home health care industries are growing at a much lower rate of 100% or less.
And perhaps this is all true. Cannabis is a growing industry in the nation, especially as laws begin to ease and the stigma of cannabis use lessens. But it doesn’t take away the fact that we’re still talking about marijuana. A drug. A substance that is known to have harmful effects.
Pediatrics, the official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published an article in 2017 covering concerns with the significant increase in recreational/medical marijuana use across the nation due to loosening legislation. The article explained that the “adverse effects of marijuana have been well documented. Numerous published studies have shown the potential negative consequences of short- and long-term use of recreational marijuana in adolescents. These consequences include impaired short-term memory and decreased concentration, attention span, and problem-solving skills, all of which interfere with learning. Alterations in motor control, coordination, judgment, reaction time, and tracking ability have also been documented. These effects may contribute to unintentional deaths and injuries among adolescents, especially those who drive after using marijuana. Negative health effects on lung function associated with smoking marijuana also have been documented.” The article further explained that the “adolescent brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex areas that control judgment and decision-making, is not fully developed until the early 20s, raising questions about how any substance use may affect the developing brain.”
The preeminent authority on the developing mind of the adolescent child or young adult clearly states that marijuana — or cannabis, as society likes to euphemistically refer to it — is not good for the brain. One of the key takeaways is that it can negatively impact learning and brain development.
Does this not concern Saint Joseph’s University leadership and faculty? Are they not in the least concerned that by teaching a course on marijuana it won’t influence their students to partake in this drug? What about students they taught starting to sell the drug to others?
I first learned of this course by way of an online ad, which means the school’s marketing department is putting significant resources behind a public awareness push of the program. Perhaps it’s seen as a potential cash-cow for their university, especially considering the industry’s growth.
When I looked up the school — I must admit I wasn’t familiar with the University prior to seeing the ad — I was amazed to find that this school still claims to follow a Christian theological viewpoint. Their own mission statement states that they’re trying to find God in all things.
I find the mission statement and the course offering to be utterly inconsistent. Is it a biblical perspective to pursue mind-altering drugs, whether to use or sell? Categorically, no. 1 Peter 5:8 explains that we are to remain “sober” and “vigilant.” This requires clear thinking and an unaltered mind.
Instead we must spend our energy in the pursuit of Christ for our strength and salvation. Philippians 4:13 teaches us that in Paul’s most difficult moments he turned to Christ for his strength. We must do the same. Psalm 62:1 explains that only through the Lord do we receive salvation. Only He provides the ultimate solution to our problems.
The solution is not marijuana. The solution is Christ, and the leadership of Saint Joseph’s University should know this.
For a university that claims to be in search of God in all things this course is an utter shame. For an institution that wants to teach and help young adults grow, it’s unimaginable to think that they would focus their efforts on something so harmful as marijuana. Perhaps the reason comes from the fact that the world has accepted it. It’s been rebranded as cannabis — a miracle drug — perhaps a new snake oil for the 21st century. Or perhaps it’s simply moral relativism.
Jason D. Bland is a Doctoral student at Regent University, specializing in Strategic Leadership. His writing focuses on leadership as well as social and political commentary from a conservative, Christian worldview. He has led organizational operations in both the military and civilian sectors, and also provides freelance leadership consulting and coaching.