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Does the Bible talk about cannabis? I don’t know. Maybe. That may not be the answer you wanted to hear, but it’s an honest one.
Given the lack of solid evidence, I feel it’s best to remain agnostic on the issue. So, that’s where I’m at.
Sure, some scholars suggest that cannabis is indeed mentioned in the Bible. In fact, 20th century anthropologist Sula Benet argues that it was included in the recipe for the anointing oil God directly gave to Moses (which can be found in Exodus 30:22–33).
The case is not settled, however. Most “mainstream” scholars believe her conclusions—as well as those who follow her—are erroneous. If that turns out to be true, then cannabis is not at all mentioned by name in the Bible.
However, that does not mean we can’t use the Bible to gain insights into how we, as modern Christians, should approach the cannabis issue.
First off, God is the God of all creation, just as Genesis 1 so rightly says. This means that God is the creator of every plant yielding seed, every tree yielding fruit, and every herb yielding, well, whatever herbs yield. It also means that all of creation is good, because, after all, we have a good God. Hence, every plant that God has made is good in some way or another.
Now, just because the whole of creation is good doesn’t mean that the Bible is silent on how to be discerning in the world. For instance, Ephesians 5:18 commands:
Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit.
On the other hand, wine, being made from grapes, is also celebrated in the Bible. Jesus’ first miracle in the gospel of John is turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1–11). And wine is included in the Eucharistic meal—probably the most famous meal in all of history. Again, what is crucial is discernment. And so, when it comes to cannabis, perhaps we need to examine how the plant is used, and what the fruit of that use happens to be.
In the case of CBD, an oil produced using cannabis, the fruit is very, very positive. Not only will CBD not get you high or produce any intoxicating effects, it can actually provide relief for insomnia, anxiety, depression, nausea, and many other problems. It has also been approved by the FDA for treatments to reduce seizures.
That’s very good fruit indeed.
Let’s also consider what Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians:
All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, for ‘the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s. 1 Cor. 10:23-26
One thing is strikingly important for our consideration, which is, if we apply what Paul is saying to what our Christian stance on cannabis should be, we’d likely have to conclude that while cannabis may not always be beneficial for everyone and may not always help build up, it should be completely lawful. And further, it may in fact be beneficial to some. Hence, we would have to decide for ourselves whether it is or not, and then act in accordance with what the Spirit is telling us.
One thing we can’t really conclude from this passage is that Christians should be making cannabis unlawful simply because they don’t like it. That is to say, just because some of them don’t like cannabis, just because it doesn’t help build them up, and just because they opt to not consume it, doesn’t mean it should be unlawful for others to partake in the herb. Especially if some partake of CBD oil to heal their illnesses. For them, this is very beneficial.
As Christians, we really should, first and foremost, be focusing on loving others and giving glory to God, not what plants we don’t think others should consume. I love what Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 10 with:
So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved. 1 Cor. 10:31-33
I think what Paul is trying to convey here is that it doesn’t matter what one eats or doesn’t eat, drinks or doesn’t drinks, even uses or doesn’t use. What matters most is that we live at peace with one another and that we give thanks and glory to God by living a life oriented toward love, grace, and mercy.
Where the Bible is relatively silent on cannabis, it’s abundantly clear on how we should treat one another. And with that lens of love that we are given through Christ, we should then be able to lovingly approach any issue, including cannabis.
We’ll know whether cannabis is right for us, for example, when we can honestly answer questions like these: “Does it make me more loving? Does it make me more at peace with others? Does it help me be more forgiving? Or, does it do the opposite?”
To close: I’m sorry for not really answering the question in the title. To be honest, there really is no dogmatic answer I could give. I have my beliefs, but overall, I’m pretty agnostic (In case you care, I tend to think Benet is correct and that cannabis was a part of the holy anointing oil). What I am convinced of, however, is that in Christ there is freedom to use medicinal cannabis products like CBD.
Peace be with you.
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