OKLAHOMA CITY - At the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO)'s annual meeting, religious leaders from across the state passed an anti-pot resolution, concerned about the future of the plant in the state.
Blake Gideon, senior pastor of Edmond's First Baptist, is also president of the BGCO, and he says it's a time for them to come together and discuss business, including their ongoing work and commitment to foster care. But they also discussed the path they fear the state is on regarding laws on marijuana.
"One of the things we’re concerned about is the possibility of a bill that would promote recreational marijuana," said Pastor Gideon. "We as southern Baptists believe it would be detrimental to our society."
The BGCO passed a resolution at the annual meeting, taking a stance on the cannabis in Oklahoma.
"The resolution also stated that we collectively, as a Baptist convention, we stand against recreational marijuana because it puts our families and neighborhoods at risk for exploitation."
But pro-marijuana organizations say untrue stereotypes are at the core of those concerns.
"We're still fighting the 'Reefer Madness,'" said pro-cannabis advocate John Frasure. "I was only medicinal cannabis when I first started out but with all the changes the legislature is trying to do with the laws, I'm ready for recreational."
Frasure is with the Oklahoma Cannabis Trade Association and Oklahomans for Health, two pro-marijuana organizations focused on promoting medicinal marijuana for people suffering with chronic pain, PTSD and other conditions.
Pastor Gideon says the legalization of medicinal marijuana creates a slippery slope for recreational marijuana to become part of the conversation.
"Look at the response in other states," said Gideon. "It has proven to be detrimental to people’s families and to society as a whole. Rise in crime, automobile accidents due to recreational marijuana. At the end of the day marijuana inhibits ones ability to think clearly and it alters their sense of reality."
But Frasure thinks those other states show quite the opposite.
"Lets look at what they’ve done for schools in other states, what they’ve done for the roads, the amount of people employed in those other states," said Frasure.
Pastor Gideon is concerned about the safety of overall society if marijuana was sold freely.
"There’s already enough drunk drivers out there," he said. "The last thing I want are high drivers meeting my children on the road."
"I do not think people should be driving high," said Frasure. "We have patients on the road with Hydrocodone and Xanax, they're not worried about them? Cannabis does not affect like Hydrocodone or Xanax."
Pro-marijuana organizations like Green the Vote agree that the sale and use of dangerous and addictive drugs are bad for community, but criticize the BGCO's resolution. Meanwhile Pastor Gideon emphasizes that he, and other Baptist leaders hope to help, and are willing to minister to anyone suffering with addiction.