You may have heard of Craig Gross as the founder of the edgy XXXchurch in Pasadena California, a ministry that helps people break free from pornography addiction. It certainly takes gumption to form a ministry like that, so it may not be so surprising that Gross is now tackling another highly controversial issue within the church: weed.
Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, but states are opening up their legislation on it, with some legalizing cannabis for recreational use and others only for medicinal use. Gross started using marijuana in 2013 for his migraines, which he couldn't get relief from any other way.
But he also found it helped him worship and find peace. "You can talk to my wife or my kids who say, Craig’s a better human being because of this. There’s a different awakening that kind of happens. So I’m not going to be one to judge like you should get stoned and eat pizza all day long,” Gross shares.
Gross distances himself from the stereotypical pothead: "I don’t smoke anything with a match, with a light. I don’t have any drug paraphernalia at my house. [I have] some mints, some edibles, I have a certain kind of pen that doesn’t even have … I’m not the guy rolling a joint in the bath with my kids there,” he says.
“There’s very appropriate kinds of ways that this stuff is dispensed and shared today that is not like, oh, there Craig goes lighting up today. It’s very discreet kind of things. And so I’m more comfortable with that than lighting up a bowl and smoking it like that; that doesn’t interest me," Gross explains.
Now Gross is out to bring marijuana to Christians. He knows the stigma and the controversy, but he wants to dispel the idea that weed equals sin. And he's out to dispense as well, via his website Christian Cannabis.
“Today feels like 2002, like XXXchurch did. Putting three Xs in front of the word church is similar to putting the word Christian in front of cannabis. It’s the dumbest thing. I’ve thought about this for so long, everyone hates the name … but I needed it to be so clear and so direct. ... It means Christians talking about cannabis. It doesn’t mean we have better holy spiritual weed than you do. There’s not such a thing. So I thought, let’s just have fun with it and call it what it is because this will hone in on the conversation for our market. Our market is Christians that love the Lord,” he says.
Of course, Gross has gotten considerable criticism. But he remains undeterred. “Some of the things I needed marijuana for early on, I don’t need it for [anymore]. I’ve learned how to do that. Some persons are like, ‘Craig needs weed to pray.’ That’s not what I said. I said it slows my mind down that doesn’t make a to-do list that makes it easier to pray. I’ve practiced those things and have had incredible encounters with the Lord with no drugs associated,” he says.
On his site, weed is marketed in various forms for various purposes. Take for example the "Peace Pen."
“Peace is hard to come by, whether in our world, or in our person. Perhaps it feels as though your brain is waging a war against you. Quiet it. Perhaps it feels as though your body is breaking down. Give it relief. Perhaps the frenzy is threatening to overwhelm you. Be still. Perhaps you feel like all is falling to pieces. Know that it isn’t,” the description says.
Taking the opportunity for criticism even further, Gross recently launched Christian Cannabis at the Coachella music festival on 4/20, a day known to celebrate weed.
“I live in California. I’ve gone to Coachella for the last three years. It dawned on me when it was 4/20 and it was Easter weekend … I was going to launch this later. I was going to think about it. Overthink it. And I was just like, this seems like the perfect weekend. 4/20 and Easter,” he says.
“I went to Coachella and saw one of my favorite artists that I’ve ever seen and I used marijuana before seeing him. It was amazing,” Gross tells The Christian Post. “I’ve never lifted my hands in a worship service ever, ‘cause I was raised Baptist. … I’ve done that in my bathroom worshiping with marijuana by myself.”
Gross certainly has the confidence of a strong salesman. But some Christians aren't sold, like the one below whose comment was liked by many readers.
"This does not make sense, people confuse being emotional with being spiritual. Cannibis takes your emotions high, but this has totally nothing to do with worship. It is very unscriptural. Can you imagine God telling people in the bible to drink wine so they can worship him better? God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4 vs 24). Worship God in the Holy Ghost by being filled with the Spirit, not be being high with alcohol or cannabis (Eph 5 vs 18-20)," wrote Chidiebere.
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