L. Ron Hubbard, science fiction author and founder of The Church of Scientology, once wrote, “...the single most destructive element present in our current culture… is drugs.” It isn’t surprising Hubbard believes this.
Like most religions, Scientology is established upon tenets, such as the Code of Scientology or the Code of Honor, both of which assist in the journey to, “true spiritual enlightenment and freedom.”
And alongside these codes, there are attitudes and daily practices a member is expected to adopt—one of them being, NO DRUGS. It is clearly stated on the website, “Scientologists do not take street drugs or mind-altering psychotropic drugs.
They consider drugs cause extremely damaging effects on a person—physically, mentally and spiritually. Specifically, that drugs decrease awareness and hinder abilities. They are a “solution” to some other problem, but ultimately prove an even bigger problem.”
Last month in Los Angeles, California, the Church of Scientology hosted an event for the Foundation of a Drug-Free World, to address the truth about cannabis.
The event was led by three speakers: Sergeant Glenn Walsh of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Gerry Marshall, a drug rehab expert, and Normal Taylor, a representative from the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.
Their stance on cannabis was not different from L. Ron Hubbard’s. All three asserted marijuana is harmful, a gateway drug, and that these beliefs aren’t propaganda, they are fact. Though, what is interesting about this event is not what was said, but the organizing parties; the foundation is a non-profit that is extensively backed by the church.
This affiliation demands us to ask: Does the Church of Scientology inform the information being distributed by the foundation? At this event and beyond? Although the spokeswoman for the foundation, Megan Fialkoff, insists it, “is a secular, nonprofit public benefit corporation,” it seems probable.
Offering free online booklets on a spectrum of drugs, the foundation’s information is not just anti-marijuana, it is misleading and deceitful, a booklet of lies. They write, “studies also suggest that prenatal (before birth) use of the drug may result in birth defects, mental abnormalities, and increased risk of leukemia in children,” that men who smoke could become sterile, and that continued-use causes psychosis.
To be appalled isn’t enough because the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, and therefore the Church of Scientology, are infiltrating the common perception of cannabis, especially among the young. Reaffirming the church’s belief in drug-abstinence, the foundation like many anti-drug initiatives— think “Just Say No”— utilize a fear-mongering approach to drug education.
The Foundation for a Drug-Free World’s information and resources have pervaded public school systems across the country, including New York City, which is cause for alarm because this zero-tolerance way of discussing drugs, with teenagers especially, is not practical. It disregards the inevitable; young adults will be confronted with drugs, and because they are being told to just not participate, they won’t have the ability to make an informative decision.
“It’s all built on fear, misstatements, and exaggerations,” said Jerry Otero, former supervisor of Brooklyn’s Drug Prevention Program. “It’s like if drivers education consisted simply of sitting down and showing kids pictures of crashes— and nothing else. No one would learn how to drive.”
Yep, Scientologists hate cannabis, and that is okay. But, when religious institutions begin to pervade and influence the common perception of drugs— even with just financially supporting a non-profit organization— there are indisputable consequences. Cannabis is far from destructive Mr. Hubbard, but stigmatization is.