Cannabis in the Bible – All You Need to Know

Cannabis in Bible

What verse in the Bible talks about cannabis? What other Bible verses should we consider? Is it true that Jesus used cannabis? Can we use cannabis in the kingdom of God? Let’s examine these questions.

Cannabis Created by God for Consumption

What better place to start than at the beginning?

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1, KJV

Foundational to the Christian faith is the belief that God created everything, and that we live in a good creation. We are not Gnostics, viewing the material world with suspicion as if it were created by some lesser deity. God knew what he was doing when he created the heavens and the earth.

According to the creation poem of Genesis 1, God created light on the first day and a firmament on the second day. On the third day of creation, God began by separating the water from the dry land, and then God then spoke all plants into existence:

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. Genesis 1:11–13, KJV

As with the rest of creation, when God made these plants, ‘God saw that it was good.’ Of particular note is the ‘herb yielding seed after his kind,’ which of course includes the hemp plant and the cannabis plant. Cannabis exists as a part of God’s good creation, and God did not make a mistake by including it.

Genesis 1 goes on to describe God’s creation of the sun, moon, and stars on the second day; animals that fly and animals that swim on the fifth day; and finally, land animals and humans on the sixth day. Having created humans in his own image, God then spoke to them:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Genesis 1:28, KJV

And what God said next is of particular importance:

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Genesis 1:29–31, KJV

So not only did God create ‘every herb bearing seed,’ including cannabis, but God gave all of these ‘green herbs’ to humans ‘for meat.’ The word ‘meat’ in the King James Version just means food or something you eat. In other words, God intended even cannabis to be consumed. These Bible verses don’t address how best to consume it or where the line is crossed into excess, but Genesis 1 demands that we at least acknowledge cannabis plants as being created good by God for our consumption.

This is further confirmed in the next chapter, where God himself plants the garden in Eden for food:

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8–9, KJV

And in this garden, the only prohibition was eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. None of the ‘green herbs’ were forbidden:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16–17, KJV

Cannabis Prescribed by God for Anointing Oil

The book of Exodus contains detailed instructions for everything surrounding the worship of God at the tabernacle. In chapter 30, God instructs Moses concerning the ingredients to be used for the holy anointing oil:

Moreover the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. Exodus 30:22–25, KJV

The King James Version renders the third ingredient as ‘sweet calamus,’ but some scholars have come to believe that ‘cannabis’ would be the more accurate translation. The Hebrew word itself is ‘kaneh-bosm’, and it may be with good reason that it sounds so similar. Chris Bennett, in his 1996 article, Kaneh Bosm: Cannabis in the Old Testament, writes the following:

The first solid evidence of the Hebrew use of cannabis was established in 1936 by Sula Benet, a little known Polish etymologist from the Institute of Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw.

The word cannabis was generally thought to be of Scythian origin, but Benet showed that it has a much earlier origin in Semitic languages like Hebrew, and that it appears several times throughout the Old Testament. Benet explained that ‘in the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament there are references to hemp, both as incense, which was an integral part of religious celebration, and as an intoxicant.

Benet demonstrated that the word for cannabis is ‘kaneh-bosm,’ also rendered in traditional Hebrew as kaneh or kannabus. The root kan in this construction means ‘reed’ or ‘hemp’, while bosm means ‘aromatic.’ This word appears five times in the Old Testament; in the books of Exodus, the Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

The word kaneh-bosm has been mistranslated as calamus, a common marsh plant with little monetary value that does not have the qualities or value ascribed to kaneh-bosm. The error occurred in the oldest Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint in the third century BC, and was repeated in the many translations that followed.

If Benet and Bennett are correct about rendering ‘kaneh-bosm’ as ‘cannabis,’ then that means the holy anointing oil prescribed by God for the Israelites to use in their worship was composed in part of cannabis oil. And that would mean that even Jesus, the Word of God himself, may have used cannabis oil during his ministry.

Here’s something the Gospel according to Mark records about Jesus’ twelve disciples:

And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. Mark 6:13, KJV

Deb Button of Stoners 4 Jesus explains in an interview why she believes this would have included cannabis oil:

I’m quite certain it had to be cannabis because they talk about using that oil, not just for anointing, but healing. There’s no other thing I can think of that you could infuse in olive oil that would heal you. Even more recently, they found residue of cannabis in a lot of those ancient anointing jars. Again, it’s like with wine in the bible: Who knows how strong it was. There probably wasn’t as much THC. I don’t know, but my theory is it probably was cannabis oil, and cannabis was definitely more medicinal back then. It does have a lot of healing capabilities.

To review what we’ve covered so far, the Bible teaches that God made cannabis as a part of his good creation, and he intended it to be consumed. There’s no doubt that cannabis oil has tremendous healing properties, and cannabis oil was likely included in the holy anointing oil used by the Israelites and possibly even Jesus himself.

The Apostle Paul asks,

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? 1 Corinthians 6:9, KJV

So is there anything unrighteous about cannabis? Well, there’s nothing at all in scripture about cannabis. The Bible is simply silent on it. But Paul does go on to say the following:

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Corinthians 6:12, KJV

So this is key: If ‘all things are lawful’ for the Christian, then using cannabis is certainly included. But is it expedient? Are we brought under its power? We’ll circle back to those questions, but first let’s consider another passage from Paul:

Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8–10

In this text Paul doubles down on a theme that he and Jesus both repeat frequently—that love is our only requirement. And Paul here defines love as working no ill (or doing no harm) to a neighbor. So we must ask, does using cannabis cause harm to a neighbor? No? Then it can be done in love. And if it can be done in love, then it is certainly acceptable for Christians to use, especially in the context of CBD oil which brings healing relief from a variety of maladies.

Cannabis in Conclusion

In summary, God created cannabis. It is a part of God’s good creation, and it is intended for our use. Cannabis oil seems to have been an ingredient in the Israelites’ holy anointing oil, which even Jesus himself probably used for his healing ministry. And while the Bible never mentions cannabis, the Bible does praise drinking alcohol, even though drinking is far worse for your health.

With all these factors considered, the conclusion is pretty straightforward. God gave us the gift of cannabis, and Christians who use CBD oil to treat their illnesses are completely free from any condemnation from the Bible, or from God.

Carson Mills
Carson Mills
Carson Mills is a freelance writer and editor. He lives with his family in Washington state, where he enjoys the beautiful scenery, as well as the freedom afforded by Initiative 502. When not nose-deep in a book, he’s usually blogging about some controversial point of theology.

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