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Prices and Pot

Menu Prices

When Marie and I were dating, we used to go out to eat for $20, and that normally included a beer for each of us and the tip. I’m talking about middling restaurants, of the Chi Chi or Bennigan’s type. I distinctly remember that $20 was the magic number because, as a poor college kid, I’d always make sure I had at least $20 in my wallet before taking her out.

Those days are gone, obviously, but it seems restaurant prices today are skyrocketing and portions are shrinking. I have little doubt that they’re merely reflecting rising food costs. According to this article, food prices went up 5% last year, but I have a hard time believing it was merely 5%. Based on the restaurant prices I’m seeing, I would’ve thought the increase was closer to 20%. I’ve talked to other people who have expressed similar sticker shock when looking at the menu prices of their favorite restaurants.

Just one of the many times that I’ve scratched my head and grown skeptical that we’re receiving correct information from the media. More on this point tomorrow.

Marijuana and the Church

According to The Atlantic, the Pope denounced drug violence during his trip to Mexico. From the New York Times:

For his audience in Mexico, where Catholics are distraught over the deaths of 50,000 people since the government’s war against drug cartels began in late 2006, Pope Benedict emphasized that Mexico’s violence was caused by greed. The church, he told reporters on the papal plane, has a “great responsibility” in a country that is 83 percent Catholic to guide young people away from that false promise, “to educate the conscience, teach moral responsibility and strip off the mask, the idolatry of money that enslaves mankind.”

Is the Pope attacking drug violence or drugs in general? It seems like he’s focusing on drug violence, in which case the obvious remedy is to legalize the drugs. Of course, the Church also condemns the use of drugs. From the Catechism:

2291. The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.

But what exactly is a drug? Does it include marijuana? The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers no further guidance on section 2291. I searched for information on the web. I couldn’t find a single trustworthy Catholic source. I’m sure there must be a few orthodox discussions or analyses out there (Mark Shea? Catholic Exchange? Catholic Lane? Amy Welborn?), but the cyber-silence on the issue is startling. If you have any links you can recommend, I’d greatly appreciate it if you email me or post them in the comments section below.

And even if the Church condemns marijuana use, it doesn’t necessarily mean it supports the continuing criminalization. I don’t know the Church’s position on the drug laws when it comes to a milder drug like marijuana. Again, any links are appreciated.