• A medical marijuana bill is on the ballot in Arkansas for the upcoming election. Apparently marijuana can help relieve the symptoms of a significant number of diseases. Anyone who has watched someone has a seizure will find it difficult to vote against this issue.

Our recent family vacation to Colorado was a madcap adventure. The weather was beautiful and we actively enjoyed the mountains and wilderness. About half-way through our trip, I asked my youngest, “We’ve gone backpacking, mountain-biking, 4-wheeling and whitewater-rafting – what would you like to do next?”

“Bowling!” he answered. Sigh.

Needless to say, we did a lot of things that the kids enjoyed. But I also did some things I wanted to do. For example, we visited Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monastery in Abiquiui, New Mexico. It was a moving experience to say the least.

But I did something else. Something my kids were not allowed to do. I went to a recreational marijuana dispensary in Durango, Colorado.

Don’t worry, I did not buy anything, I was merely window shopping. I was curious about recreational marijuana and its availability. So I simply walked up a flight of stairs, showed my driver’s license and found myself in a dark room with all kinds of marijuana and accessories on display. Under acrylic table tops I saw many varieties of marijuana that could be purchased for up to $500/ounce (cash only, please).

Several things about this experience caught my attention. First, the marijuana they sell is very strong, some claiming almost 25% THC. The potency of these greenhouse varieties is much higher than the plants grown on a Madison county hillside. Also, I was the youngest customer in the store – everyone else was in their 60s and 70s. These were ‘regulars’ (the clerks knew them by name) which tells me any stigma related to smoking marijuana in a town like Durango is long gone.

But the main thing about my experience was the sadness I felt. Yes, some use marijuana to help them with medical issues, but, for the most part, this store was selling a product for people to get high. The only reason for using recreational marijuana is to introduce a chemical into your body that alters how you feel. It’s like going into a liquor store where only pure grain alcohol is sold. Or a buying pornography (where window shopping is vastly different). I was sad because there is a tremendous market to legally sell a substance that offers an artificial short-cut to feel better about your life.

I am not interested in short-cuts. Or chemicals. Or pornography. Or anything that exploits my own body for short-term pleasure. Because despite all the sad and tragic events we may experience, there are always authentic and honest ways to face our problems. God knows we will suffer in our lives, but chemicals and short-cuts do not provide sufficient opportunities for personal growth, spiritual maturity and faithfulness. So I’d rather hike up a mountain trail, campout under the stars, read inspirational words, pray, confide in good friends, play with a child or pet an animal. The list of healthy, life-enhancing things we can do is endless and costs much less than $500/ounce. For that matter, you can even go bowling.