EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was first published in the January 2023 edition of the Baptist Messenger 

A new year has begun, and people everywhere have made resolutions to eat better, exercise more, read their Bibles daily and kick bad habits.

On March 7, Oklahoma voters will have the opportunity to kick a cultural bad habit to the curb before it gets worse. To be specific, voters will consider State Question 820, which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in our state. Here are some reasons why voters should reject SQ 820.

SQ 820 is unwise and unnecessary. Oklahoma already has more marijuana dispensaries than any other state in the nation. SQ 820 would expand marijuana’s reach in our state, making Oklahoma “go to pot” even further. Oklahomans should reject the goal of making our state a “pot-smokers paradise” and, instead, focus on keeping it a pleasant place to raise a family.

Recreational marijuana creates easy access to a mind-altering, addictive substance that has proven adverse effects on the user, their families and communities. Recreational marijuana has been linked to addiction and proven to be a gateway to other risky behaviors. Legalization has led to increase casual use among Americans and an even greater surge among those who use cannabis heavily.

This state measure comes with empty promises and disguised consequences. Proponents of the state question have used phrases to advance their drugs’ cause, phrases like “sensible laws,” “the tax revenue will help education.” Socially liberal proposals promise good end results, but they often end up being empty promises that invite further social harm and breakdown.

Approving recreational marijuana means removing important legal barriers for trafficking these addictive, mind-altering drugs. Recreational marijuana leaves neighborhoods and schools vulnerable for exploitation.

Last November, messengers to the Oklahoma Baptists’ Annual Meeting approved a resolution against recreational marijuana. The resolution expressed alarm “at the rapid advance of acceptance of marijuana in our state… We pray that Oklahoma will put legal barriers between addiction and the communities it devastates, and that the church will work with Christ-centered ministries to reach people who are addicted to substances.”

On March 7, Oklahoma voters should share that same resolve. They should ‘just say no’ to SQ 820!