Cannabis in the Bible – References

Cannabis: Bible References

In this article, we’ll provide a brief and straightforward overview of the possible references to cannabis in the Bible.

First, as a herb, the cannabis plant was included from the beginning as part of God’s very good creation:

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

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

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 everything 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

Later passages in the Bible reaffirm such herbs as having been given to humans for our use:

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. Genesis 9:3, KJV

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle,
And herb for the service of man:
That he may bring forth food out of the earth;
And wine that maketh glad the heart of man,
And oil to make his face to shine,
And bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
Psalm 104:14–15, KJV

Additionally, many Christians see the “tree of life” which God planted in the midst of the garden of Eden as representing cannabis, at least symbolically if not literally. This is due to the healing properties of medical cannabis:

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 the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Genesis 3:22–24, KJV

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:1–2, KJV

Similarly, some see the “plant of renown” from Ezekiel as representing cannabis:

And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Ezekiel 34:29, KJV

When God gave Moses instructions for making holy anointing oil, the third ingredient he gave is, in Hebrew, kaneh-bosm. Although the King James Version translates it as “calamus” or “sweet cane,” some scholars believe that it actually refers to cannabis:

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 [kaneh-bosm] 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 acannabishecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. Exodus 30:22–25, KJV

Four other Bible verses, using the shortened form kaneh, likely refer to cannabis as well:

Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits;
Camphire, with spikenard,
Spikenard and saffron;
Calamus [kaneh] and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense;
Myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters,
And streams from Lebanon.
Song of Songs 4:13–15, KJV

Thou hast bought me no sweet cane [kaneh] with money,
Neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices:
But thou hast made me to serve with thy sins,
Thou hast cwearied me with thine iniquities.
Isaiah 43:24, KJV

To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane [kaneh] from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me. Jeremiah 6:20, KJV

Dan also and Javan going to and fro occupied in thy fairs: bright iron, cassia, and calamus [kaneh], were in thy market. Ezekiel 27:19, KJV

Assuming that cannabis was used in making the holy anointing oil, then it’s also possible that Jesus and his disciples used this same cannabis-infused oil in their healing ministry:

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

No one is ever recorded to have used cannabis in the Bible, but we can still consider applying the basic ethical principles of the scriptures as provided by Jesus Christ, the Word of God, who gave us very simple guidelines:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:37–40, KJV

And the Apostle Paul affirmed the same:

Owe no man any thing, 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 neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8–10

In summary, God created the cannabis plant as part of his very good creation, and he intended it for our use. Many Christians believe the “tree of life” and the “plant of renown” refer to cannabis. The Israelites probably used cannabis as part of their holy anointing oil, and Jesus and his disciples may have used the same. Cannabis receives a number of other passing references in scripture. And ultimately, Christians are free to use medicinal cannabis products, such as CBD oil which does not have any hallucinogenic after effects, so long as our doing so is carried out in love and commits no wrong against a neighbor.

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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