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The short answer to this question is “No.” The Bible never overtly mentions using cannabis. It does, however, very possibly, mention cannabis on a couple of occasions. More on that in a moment.
It should not be too surprising, however, that the Bible possibly mentions cannabis. Given that it’s been well established that in the Ancient Near East, cannabis served a variety of purposes, both practically and ceremoniously: as clothing, paper, cord, sails, fishnet, oil, sealants, incense, and food, of course.
Here are but a few of the Bible verses some scholars—folks like Dr. Sula Benet and Eliezer Ben Yehuda—believe reference cannabis, either explicitly or otherwise:
The Lord spoke to Moses: Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, two hundred fifty, and two hundred fifty of aromatic cane/cannabis (kaneh bosm), and five hundred of cassia—measured by the sanctuary shekel—and a hin of olive oil.Exodus 30:22–23
God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the fact of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. Genesis 1:29
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
Nevertheless, it could also be argued that none of these passages have cannabis specifically in mind. Even the Exodus 30 passage is currently in question, as scholars are conflicted. To that end, how should every day Christians like us respond to the issue? And, further, should we even be looking for specific passages in order to affirm or deny the Christian case for cannabis usage?
The answer to the first question should be simple: Look to Jesus.
As Christians, Christ should always be the lens through which we approach the world. If it isn’t, we should probably ask ourselves why we are even calling ourselves “Christian.” But I digress.
Turning to Jesus, then, what is made clear is that it isn’t what we put into our bodies that is central, it’s what comes out that counts (Matthew 15:11). In other words, when it comes to our sense of morality, it isn’t what we ingest, it’s how we speak to others and how we treat them.
Does this then give us license to put whatever we want into our bodies regardless of the consequences? Of course not! Given that we are made in the image of the invisible God (Genesis 1:27), our duty, just as the Apostle Paul reminds us, is to treat our bodies as a holy temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). Part of doing that is to be sober-minded (1 Peter 5:8) and to avoid drunkenness (Ephesians 5:8). And so, while it’s crucial to understand that emphasis needs to be placed on how we treat our fellow human, it’s just as important to regard our body as a God-given gift that should be treated with utmost respect. This is a large part of how we “live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25) instead of “the flesh.”
Now, don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t necessarily that mean using cannabis defiles our bodies, or that it prevents us from being in the Spirit or one with Christ. In fact, many have testified to the fact that it can be super beneficial for them, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
CBD – an oil derived from cannabis – is especially beneficial to people who suffer from epilepsy, depression, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, and a lot more. The research is only now beginning to explore just how beneficial CBD can really be, but one remarkable discovery was that the human body has built-in cannabis receptors called an endocannabinoid system which makes it easier for us to absorb the healing properties found in cannabis.
Perhaps due to the fact that CBD doesn’t get you high, the FDA recently approved the very first CBD-related drug – known as Epidiolex – to treat epileptic seizures. So medical doctors can now legally prescribe the drug for the first time ever.
So, as cannabis-related drugs like CBD continue to become legal for medicinal use, what should we do about that?
As usual, discernment is key. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
With that in mind, all we have to ask ourselves is this: Regardless of what the Bible may or may not say about using cannabis, does cannabis benefit us, bringing us more in line with the perfect mercy of the Father (Luke 6:36), or does it harm us and others, causing us to be confused and fearful and full of malice?
You’ll have to decide for yourselves, just as I have for myself.
This brings me to the second question posed above: Should our focus as Christians be simply to look for biblical passages in order to establish a dogmatic stance on using cannabis? Well, to be frank, I don’t think it should be. Here’s why;
Given that the Bible is a collection of writings that not only chronicles Israel’s tumultuous history but also their progressive understanding of God, we must realize that not every writer is going to always agree on everything. I know some folks will have a hard time with that statement, but it’s true nonetheless (Any decent survey of the Jewish prophets, for example, will affirm this.) Hence, even if one writer were to affirm cannabis, another may come along and condemn it. And vice versa. And although we don’t really find any such thing with regards to cannabis in the scriptures, it’s important to understand the broader concept.
So, given such a reality, what are we to do?
I don’t want to sound cliché, but for my money, it always comes back to Jesus. Regardless of what the Bible does or doesn’t say about using cannabis, we need to ask ourselves, “What do we think Jesus would say?” Of course, due to the fact that the New Testament gives no account of Jesus’ stance on this specific issue, any answer is going to be speculative. It would be nice if this weren’t so, but that’s simply not the case. Thus, what we have to do is take his overall message, wrestle with it in the same manner that Jacob wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22–32), and attempt to come up with an answer.
What we should realize, then, is that there is no one-size-fits-all response. It’s always going to come back to us: How does using cannabis affect us? How does it affect our bodies? How does it affect the way in which we engage with others, both in the Church and outside of it? Remember, as Paul once taught, all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). So, ask yourself, is it beneficial for you? Only you can truly know the answer.
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