Even if a situation was such that the use of marijuana seemed to be medically justified and did not require judicial action, the elders would need to give consideration to whether the brother or sister can be viewed as exemplary and thus qualified for special privileges of service. (Philippians 3:17; 1 Timothy 3:10-13; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 5:2, 3) For example, while it is not the responsibility of the Christian congregation to enforce the laws of “Caesar,” if a person chose to use marijuana in a way that was in conflict with the law, the individual would have to assume the responsibility for any consequences resulting from his decision. (Matthew 22:21; 1 Peter 2:13, 14) One of these could be the loss of respect from the congregation, which, if that were to happen, would render that one unqualified for special privileges. Also, how is the marijuana taken? Is the brother or sister smoking it? While the mind-altering effects of ingesting marijuana in food or by means of a pill or vaporizer may in many respects be similar to those caused by smoking it, the latter would hardly promote respect for one as a minister of God. (2 Corinthians 6:3, 4) Therefore, if a Christian chose to smoke marijuana to treat his or her medical condition, that one would not qualify for special privileges in the congregation. Nor could one be used for such privileges if his or her medical use of marijuana other than by smoking became a source of stumbling in the congregation or community. – 1 Corinthians 10:31-33.
If a member of the congregation was using marijuana for medical purposes, we trust that this article will assist elders in providing further help. Elders can help one to understand the Scriptural principles involved. They can kindly assist a brother or sister to evaluate their motives and the circumstances under which one is using marijuana. Thereafter, if one decides to use marijuana for medical purposes, the body of elders can review the factors discussed in this article to determine how a brother or sister’s use of the drug should be viewed in the light of Bible principles. As explained above, one’s situation might be such that the elders can leave the matter between her and Jehovah if marijuana has been authorized by a doctor as a legitimate treatment for a medical condition and a doctor is in some way actively involved in monitoring her progress as a result of using the drug. It should be noted that the amount of “supervision” may vary from doctor to doctor. If such time passes, a Christian should take the initiative to check back with his or her doctor.
Thus, while the elders are not in a position to make a full evaluation of a brother or sister’s situation medically, the can help one to make an honest and realistic analysis of one’s motive for using marijuana. Has that one been using the drug as a last resort after making efforts to find more acceptable treatments? If so, then the body of elders might conclude that one’s use of marijuana for medical reasons with a doctor’s active supervision can be handled by two elders giving counsel in the spirit of Galatians 6:1, as noted above. On the other hand, if one has a history with drug abuse, could one’s motives have primarily to do with a desire for marijuana’s euphoric effects or to use it only as a preferred but unnecessary crutch in coping with daily life? If the body of elders in weighing all the factors is convinced that one’s motives are clearly questionable and that one’s situation constitutes a misuse of drugs that should be handled judicially, it is important that, before proceeding, the elders should write to their local branch office, giving details for their conclusion. – Shepherding textbook, chapter 5, paragraph 15.