Craig Gross, author, Craig Brain podcast host and founder of XXXchurch.com, is spearheading dialogue based on his own experience and conversations with Christian leaders around the nation regarding marijuana use among Christians. Through his new website, christiancannabis.com, Gross wants to help facilitate discussion that has previously been avoided in the Church about the possible benefits of the plant that has historically been demonized and condemned.
Gross grew up in church, well aware of the stigma surrounding marijuana, especially among the Christian community. As someone who only consumed alcohol in strict moderation, Gross never imagined that using cannabis would be a need or a desire. But when frequent and severe migraines began to plague his body and interfere with daily life, he sought every imaginable explanation and solution for his pain.
“I saw more than 20 specialists and doctors in quest of an answer to my chronic, debilitating migraines,” said Gross. “Doctors administered MRIs and MRAs in an attempt to diagnose my pain, but they continually came up blank. There was no explanation for my problem, and the various drugs I was prescribed over the years did nothing to ease my pain.”
Sometime after the regular migraines set in, Gross came across a Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN documentary about a little girl suffering from seizures who found almost total relief in cannabis.
After finding no solution for his ongoing migraines, Gross, who had never considered cannabis to be anything but a dangerous drug, finally decided to receive his medical marijuana license and try cannabis, very sporadically, at first. The ingrained stigma against drugs made him ashamed to be using marijuana, even though he consumed it as a medicinal solution.
“For the longest time, I didn’t tell anyone about my use of cannabis and wrestled with a number of questions. Would it be okay for me to take cannabis? Did I need to consume it in the form of a brownie or a cup of tea for it to be acceptable? I realized there are not black and white answers,” said Gross. “I have a pastor friend who takes Zoloft for his depression, and nobody bats an eye, but marijuana is perceived as being different despite studies showing its medical benefits.”
His mindset began to change when he found THC mints, each of which contains 5 milligrams of cannabis, a small yet effective dosage. The affordable and discreet form released him from the fear of being a Christian who used cannabis, and he started to take the pills regularly. The results were astounding, changing his physical health for the better and increasing his ability to be a more present husband, father, friend and Christ-follower. Since 2017, Gross has continued to use and benefit from THC mints.
The freedom Gross found in cannabis ultimately improved his relationship with God, as he realized it is not the abstinence from or indulgence in any substance that brings one closer to the Lord. Rather, what he found is, when he surrendered his stigmas, prejudices, and concerns to God, he opened the way for God to work in his life like never before.
“Individuals diagnosed with depression take antidepressants to help de-fog their thoughts,” said Gross. “As someone who struggles to focus, a problem that was compounded by my chronic migraine pain, cannabis helped me to clear my head in the same way, allowing me to focus on God sans the distraction of physical ailment or wandering thoughts.”
Having built his XXXchurch ministry on the concept of being transparent, Gross began openly discussing his use with Christian leaders. He quickly realized that despite the fact that more and more states are legalizing marijuana, churches have not opened dialogue about whether its use is theologically, morally or medically accepted. For this reason, he created christiancannabis.com to encourage dialogue and educate Christians about the realities of marijuana based on his own personal journey.
“I know my position is controversial to some and that not everyone will agree, but I think Christians have more freedom in this arena than we’ve traditionally allowed for,” said Gross. “God works in mysterious ways, and He has certainly worked a mystery in me by taking me on this journey of de-stigmatizing a substance that has brought so much relief to me, as it does for many others.
“When I started XXXchurch more than a decade ago, no one ever imagined discussing porn within the church,” said Gross. “My hope is that in the years to come, the Church can have an open, loving and productive conversation about cannabis in the same way we now talk about porn.”