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How Does Judaism Feel About Marijuana Use?

Followers of Judaism (the monotheistic religion of the Jewish people) draw on a rich history that is thousands of years old and adheres to the teachings of the Hebrew Bible. Though Judaism encompasses many sects (called movements) of the Jewish faith that have formed over thousands of years, all generally believe that cannabis is a low substance of abuse that clouds the mind and one's relationship with God. However, as science reveals more medicinal benefits cannabis can offer, views about the herb's use is evolving among some practicing the Jewish faith.

Academics and religious authorities within Judaism typically agree that marijuana was never referred to directly in the Bible or other sacred documents, and they also usually feel that cannabis should not be consumed. Many cite the opinion of Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986), an Orthodox rabbi-scholar and posek (an authority on questions related to Jewish law) who felt Judaism does not allow the use of cannabis because of its “harmful” mind-altering effects. Others argue that cannabis physically injures the user, and it prevents him or her from properly praying, studying the Torah, and performing Mitzvos (commandments).

While these views hold fast among many members of the Jewish faith, others have adopted the view that consuming marijuana for medical purposes and improve one's life is completely fine. Cannabis was approved as kosher for consumption during Passover in 2016 by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, who is widely considered the living authority on Orthodox Jewish law. 

There is also a theory proposed by Sula Benet (though almost universally dismissed by mainstream scholars) that the Bible does mention cannabis as a holy anointing oil in early Judaic rituals. The argument stems from the claim that the word “kaneh bosm” (a plant mentioned five times in the Book of Exodus) really means cannabis, but a mistranslation recorded the term as lemon grass or calamus.

To end, many within Judaism take into account a person's reasons for using marijuana when they consider how they feel about cannabis, as its medical use is more widely accepted, but its recreational use is still thought to be wrong.


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