This Higher Learning LV™ Interview is with a special guest. Miguel Torrez, a retired Lieutenant Commander with the United States Coast Guard and devout Christian, is also a vocal proponent of cannabis medicine. This Tampa Bay resident, husband, and father of three is host of a unique podcast.
Despite potential backlash from within both the military and evangelical communities, Torrez launched and hosts a weekly podcast called "The Conversation, Cannabis and Christianity." He and his guests discuss "the human condition, cannabis, belief systems, Jesus Christ, destiny, and more," according to an official statement by the podcast.
Miguel Torrez of The Conversation, Cannabis and Christianity podcast
Torrez brings a colorful and successful background to his podcast that includes an undergrad in English and Government from The University of Texas at Brownsville and two decades in the military. He holds a Masters degree in Christian Apologetics from Liberty University and is a registered medical cannabis patient with the state of Florida.
Below, Higher Learning LV™ interviews Torrez about his cannabis-themed podcast and how his personal use of marijuana and his religious and spiritual beliefs affect one another.
Higher Learning LV™: "You host a unique podcast called 'The Conversation, Cannabis & Christianity.' What inspired you to interview dozens of thought leaders within the cannabis and hemp space and take the arguably risky move of openly discussing the cannabis plant in a positive light?
"I view cannabis as a part of the creation account in the biblical book Genesis. It is a plant that has been used by cultures for thousands of years."
"As background for readers, you describe your podcast as 'Helping the cannabis user understand Christ and the Christian understand cannabis. Is the cannabis plant synonymous with cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine? Or, is it a plant that God put on earth for us to use?'"
Miguel Torrez: "I view cannabis as a part of the creation account in the biblical book Genesis. It is a plant that has been used by cultures for thousands of years and has subsequently proven to have profound medicinal value. This all makes sense through the lens of the Judeo-Christian creationist framework.
The Torrez Family in Florida
"Yet, in the U.S. and other nations, many Christian denominations advocate for adherence to civil law when it comes to marijuana, forgetting that the plant is part of creation—just like the people who use it. Because of the abuses done in the name of Jesus, and abuses done in the name of creation/marijuana, I try to help close the biblical gap between Christianity and cannabis by talking with people."
HLLV: "You reside in Florida, a notoriously conservative state that offers its citizens a thriving medical cannabis program, but not adult-use legalization. 1) Do you believe the medical program is truly serving the needs of patients in Florida and 2) do you think Florida should adopt adult-use legalization in the near future?"
"It is hard to say the State of Florida, or any state that does not allow patients and citizens to grow this herb, is truly serving the needs of its patients."
MT: "To your first question, my family and I returned to Florida in May 2021 after I retired from the U.S. Coast Guard. I was very thankful for the state's medical marijuana program. However, patients and citizens across the nation cannot grow their own marijuana. It is hard to say the State of Florida, or any state that does not allow patients and citizens to grow this herb, is truly serving the needs of its patients.
Torrez served in the U.S. Coast Guard
"Yes, I do think Florida should adopt adult-use marijuana legalization. But I do not think it will do so in the near future. I do not have any special insight into the politics of the state, but Florida appears to be doing very well economically and its governor is viewed as a potential presidential candidate.
"The legalization of homegrown and recreational marijuana will be determined by the political fashion of the perceived times, which is typically shaped by money. With a growing medical marijuana program, Florida has bolstered its population.
"I believe it is biblically sound to view and use plants, including marijuana and natural psychedelics, as medicines and that this is biblically supported."
"As a retired military planner who specialized in working with federal, state, and local governments and stakeholders, I would be disappointed if a contingent of thinkers planning both homegrown and recreational marijuana has not already been tasked with developing a framework for moving forward in Florida."
HLLV: "As a Christian, do you feel an ethical obligation to utilize the plants of the earth, including hemp and marijuana, for the improvement of the health of humans?"
MT: "I believe it is biblically sound to view and use plants, including marijuana and natural psychedelics, as medicines and that this is biblically supported. The Christian's typical response to resisting marijuana legalization is to cite federal law and state that marijuana is illegal.
"In my opinion, this perspective is firm with Church leadership and many congregations. This is why the idea of medical marijuana use being an agenda item for Church leadership meetings is not likely. On 'The Conversation, Cannabis and Christianity' podcast, I had a talk with James Patrick Fiore, a retired 30-year career evangelical. Pat sheds some light on how some major denominations make decisions. It is not always based on theology.
"At the same time, Church denominations are not primary employers. The ethical use of marijuana needs to be addressed by citizens, advocates, elected and appointed leaders, entrepreneurs, health care insurers, medical professionals, industry stakeholders, and organizations of faith. This includes those with no faith (faith in nothing is still faith in something)."
"The ethical use of marijuana needs to be addressed by citizens, advocates, elected and appointed leaders, entrepreneurs, health care insurance conglomerates, medical professionals, industry stakeholders, and organizations of faith."
HLLV: "Christians and members of other religions sometimes report that cannabis, at least the cultivars (strains) that reduce anxiety and produce relaxation, helps them center themselves for religious study, meditation, or prayer. Has this been your personal experience?"
MT: "Yes. Without a doubt, psychoactive agents that relax will facilitate a calmer state of mind that can allow one to receive and understand information, especially biblical scripture, through a different lens.
Lieutenant Commander Miguel Torrez
"However, cannabis is not a talisman. Some people eat, drink coffee or soda, have a glass of wine, or smoke a cigarette before or during study of any subject. Today, marijuana may relax someone to better understand what they are consuming with their mind. Later, marijuana consumption could result in a nap and a glass of water.
"Here is a scriptural fact about the idea of worry from The Gospel of Matthew, 'And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life's span?' (Matthew 6:27 NASB). Everyone will worry. But we must ask ourselves: What are we putting our trust in to quell that worry and is that source finite?"
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