What The Dalai Lama Says About Marijuana

You might assume that Buddhists are okay with cannabis use because...well, they seem to be okay with pretty much everything that doesn't hurt anyone. But abstaining from intoxicants is one of the Five Precepts of Buddhism, though there is a debate about which ones you should avoid. Regardless, His Holiness the Dalai Lama - who turns 81 today - isn't laid back about marijuana.

During a 2014 interview, Elizabeth Dias of TIME magazine asked the spiritual leader if he had ever smoked marijuana.

"No. Never," the Dalai Lama said. "These kinds of substances are generally considered poison, very bad."

However, he was supportive of letting doctors and scientists decide if patients should use cannabis medicinally.

"But for particular illnesses, this is sometimes deliberately used. So that's up to the doctor, or up to scientists. The ability to judge reality is something very unique. Our brain is something very special. So if that is damaged, that's awful. So alcohol and drugs are very bad."

Coincidentally, that same year, the Australian rock band Dune Rats released a song called "Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana." So whether or not the spiritual leader supports cannabis culture, he's become a part of it.

Banner Image: The Dalai Lama speaks at the Edward Rall Cultural Lecture at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland on March 7, 2014 (NIH Image Gallery / Flickr)


After a battery of tests and misdiagnoses, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease twelve years ago, and thus began a long battle with trial-and-error medical treatments. I changed my diet several times, even though my doctors didn’t seem confident it would change much (it didn’t), went to physical therapy for pain-related issues, and took so many different pharmaceuticals I can’t even begin to recall each and every one. My days were foggy due to side effects from pharmaceuticals, such as steroids, that made me feel worse than I did before I even took them.

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