There are two postures that seek confirmation of cannabis in the free interpretation of the Bible. One supported by scholar Chris Bennett and the other by John Schoenheit. This article sheds some light regarding the association of the Bible and marijuana.
Genesis for a good start
"And said Elohim, Behold, I give you every herb that sows seed on the face of the earth, and every tree that bears within it the fruit of the tree," Genesis 1: 29-30. These words seem quite direct enough, and yet cannabis and other psychoactive active medicinal plants are rejected within our societies according to Chris Bennett, the author of Sex, Drugs and Violence in the Bible (2001)
Cannabis has Scythian origin
The first serious evidence of the Hebrew use of cannabis was established in 1936 by Sula Benet, a Polish etymologist at the Institute of Anthropological Sciences in Warsaw. The word cannabis was generally considered to be of Scythian origin, but Benet demonstrated that there was an earlier origin in the Semitic languages such as Hebrew, and that it also appears several times in the Old Testament references to hemp, both as incense, which is an integral part of religious celebration, and as an intoxicating substance.
Benet demonstrated that the word for cannabis is kaneh-bosem, which traditional Hebrew also makes by kaneh or kannabus. The root "kan" built means "hemp" or "reed", while "bosm" means "aromatic." This word appears five times in the Old Testament: in the Book of Exodus, the Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
The hidden history of marijuana in the Bible
When we take the chronology of the biblical references to the kaneh-bosem, then we have more than the revelation of the history of cannabis within the Old Testament. Another more exciting and secret story emerges, that of the suppression of the cults of Astarte, also called Ashera, known to the ancient Semites as the Queen of Heaven.
The first reference to the kaneh-bosem in the Old Testament appears with the shaman prophet Moses. At the beginning of his shamanic career, Moses discovered the Angel of the Lord in the flames of the burning bush. In the time of Moses, cannabis was used as hallucinogen by the ancient worshipers of Asherah, the Queen of Heaven. Asherah was also considered a Hebrew goddess.
The priestesses of Asherah before the foundation of Jerusalem mixed cannabis resin with myrrh, balsam and perfumes and then coated their skin with this mixture and also burned it.
The God is in the cloud
A reading of the Old Testament reveals that Yahweh "came to Moses in the midst of a cloud" and that this cloud came from the smoke produced by the burning of incense. Ralph Patai tells us about this in The Hebrew Goddess: "Yahweh made temporary appearances in the tent. He was a God visitor whose appearance or disappearance of the tent was used as oracles.
One should also remember the ancient Persian sage Zoroaster, another monotheist like Moses, who heard the voice of his God, Ahura Mazda, while he was in a shamanic ecstasy produced by cannabis. The Greek oracle of Delphi also revealed its prophecies from behind a veil of toxic fumes.
The inner vision obtained through the use of cannabis, whether inhaled in the Tent of the Tabernacle or applied to the skin, may have been interpreted by Moses as messages from God. This is similar to modern shamans who interpret their experiences with hallucinogenic plants as containing divine revelations.
Consciousness obtained through Cannabis
In his book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind", Julian Jaynes offers an interesting explanation of how the development of consciousness may have taken place. Although he fails to recognize the primordial role that hallucinogenic plants may have played in the development of consciousness, Jaynes proposes a revolutionary theory. In his book, Jaynes argues that ancient peoples were not as fully conscious and enlightened as contemporary humans. They were incapable of introspection, experiencing their own superior cognitive functioning as hallucinations - the voices of the gods, heard as in the Old Testament or in the Iliad - which tell a person what to do in circumstances of novelty or stress.
The second appearance of marijuana in the Bible
The second trace of cannabis in the Bible is found under the name of kaneh and appears in connection with King Solomon. In Solomon's Canticle of Solomon, one of the finest passages in the Old Testament, Solomon mentions kaneh to describe his fiancée.
"Nard and saffron, kaneh and cinnamon, With all the trees that give incense; Myrrh and Aloe, with all the principal aromatics "Song of Songs IV: 8-14.
The third reference to cannabis in the Bible
The following direct reference to the kaneh-bosem appears in Isaiah, where God suppresses the Israelites for, among other things, not offering him his Sacred Herbs.
"Thou hast not offered me thy sheep for a burnt offering, and thou hast not honored me by thy sacrifices; I have not tormented you for offerings, and I have not tired you for incense. Thou hast not bought spices for me, and thou hast not satisfied me with the fatness of thy sacrifices; But thou hast tormented me with thy sins, Thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. " Isaiah 43: 23-24.
John Schoenheit is not agreeable to these associations
This member of the Christian Spiritual and Truth movement, and protagonist of the organization's YouTube channel, based on Ephesians 5:18 ("Do not get drunk with wine: it's debauchery. 'Spirit') finds in the Bible only references to substances that alter the mind 'and which are considered to be prohibited by the text.
According to John Schoenheit it is wrong to smoke cannabis for pleasure as this alters the mind. You no longer think the same thing, you no longer feel the same way. "The mind is seized by drunkenness," according to his video on YouTube. It even establishes a link between cannabis and demonic possession. "The use of drugs that alter the mind is a way to get the demon into your life," he says. Similarly, according to Schoenheit, favorable to therapeutic marijuana, its use is acceptable "if it is really made to serve God".
But John Schoenheit - host of the evangelical YouTube channel Truth or Tradition - disagrees with Bennett. He argues that there are no references to cannabis in the Bible, but passages discussing intoxication suggest that consuming marijuana is wrong in the same way that getting drunk is sinful. He also suggests that cannabis might have been benign once in the Garden of Eden -- before sin entered the world through Adam and Eve's disobedience. But since then, it has become a dangerous substance that can lead to demonic possession.
Check out his take in this video.