For Erik Steckman, marijuana was the drug of choice. And that’s where the choice ended. From that point forward, he progressed through a long drug addiction that landed him face-to-barrel with a .357 magnum revolver.
His story, and many others like it, bear consideration as Oklahoma gets ready to vote on State Question 820, which legalizes recreational marijuana in the state.
“When I was 15, I started smoking cigarettes, and then I got a few sips of wine at a friend’s house,” he said. “At 16, I smoked pot for the first time, and for the next 20 years I spiraled into the most addictive drugs on the streets.”
Steckman had already advanced into meth amphetamines in his teen years. Eventually, he was mixing methadone and Xanax, which impacted him like Heroin.
“I developed anger issues; I had psychosis, and I became suicidal,” he remembered. “It impacted my relationship with (my future wife), and there were incidents of violence.”
A young daughter was already in the house by that time, and the things she witnessed still torment Steckman today. Through tears, he recounted how the girl would hide when her parents began to fight.
Eventually, he landed in a rehab facility, but the treatment had little effect. The day he was dismissed, he was back on pills again. It wasn’t long before he got back to meth, too.
“I remember being out in my shop, and I was high,” Steckman said. “I had my .357 revolver out, and I was cleaning it. With that gun, if you just pull the hammer back and release it, it will go off. As I pulled a rag across the hammer, that’s what happened and the gun fired. There were powder burns on my face. The bullet must have missed me by only a few inches.”
That was the wake-up call for Steckman, who was 35 at the time. He began to cry out to God, but he noticed that his prayers were all self-centered. “I kept hearing myself say, ‘me, me, me,’” he remembered.
Then one day while working in his body shop, he sensed God telling him, “It’s not about you. It’s about what I did for you.” In that moment, Steckman confessed Christ as savior, and the change was instantaneous.
“It was like a switch was flipped,” he said. “I smoked cigarettes for a little while longer, but the alcohol and drugs were over immediately, and it wasn’t long before the cigarettes were gone, too.”
Today, Steckman, now 46, is among the most active members at Carnegie, First, where he teaches the middle school boys Sunday school class, works in the sound booth on Mondays and Wednesdays, and serves as one of the leaders for the Kids Outdoor Zone ministry.
His thoughts on the legalization of marijuana? “Marijuana never satisfies,” he said. “I am a living example. I can’t say with certainty what would have become of me without marijuana, but I know that marijuana played a significant role in abuse.”
And Steckman, who still owns and operates his body shop in Carnegie and now has five children, fears that the public is ignorant of the long-term consequences of marijuana and its evolution as a drug.
“You can take it in a gummy now, you can vape it, you can take it as an oil extract,” he pointed out. “We were once outed by the smell, that’s no longer the case. It’s also much stronger now than when I smoked it, and it will continue to intensify in its strength as users seek new and better highs.”
The infiltration is staggering.
“It’s all over the schools, and it’s in the churches, “Steckman said. “People would be surprised how many kids have it, and it’s not just the kids. It has been glorified as the social thing to do.”
The rampant availability is one of the counter arguments used by advocates for the measure. He has a response.
“If we know it’s destructive, why would we make it easier?” he said. “This isn’t coming from someone who has no experience with it. I have intimate experience with it and still see its impact, even though I don’t live that life any more. I can spot it, and it’s not good.”
More than that, it carries a significant spiritual component.
“The fact is that it’s sin, and it’s going to lead to something much worse for a lot of people. In our culture and in Scripture, we see that sin is never satisfied, “Steckman said. “Marijuana is an example of that very thing. It has a domino effect. There is no explanation that anyone presents that is a good reason to tip over the next domino. I know that from personal experience.”
For that reason, Steckman is hoping that opponents of the measure will turn out in force, and he has a dose of reality as individuals consider their participation in the election: “If people stay home, or if they don’t vote ‘NO,’ they will contribute to the problem and set themselves up for years of regret, both personally and in the life of our state and communities.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The preceding article was written by Kenny Mossman, an Oklahoma Baptist pastor. For resources and other articles warning of the dangers of recreational marijuana use and against SQ 820, visit oklahomabaptists.org/sq820.