Cannabis in the Bible
While the sale and consumption of weed in America has become almost commonplace for, many do not condone it, due to their religion. Cannabis has long been considered sinful in the eyes of the Church, however this stance isn’t backed up by religious text. In fact, it has even been theorized that many Israelites and even Jesus might have used cannabis.
Note: Quotations of the Bible featured in this article are from the English Standard Version.
What is Kaneh Bosm?
Although weed is mentioned in the Bible, it is called by another name: kaneh bosm. The word kaneh bosm is a rough English transliteration of the original Hebrew. Etymologists have found that kaneh bosm has been frequently mistranslated to the word calamus, which is a fragrant reed found in the marshy climates of Egypt. Kaneh bosm is often credited to be the true root to the word cannabis.
Where is Kaneh Bosm in the Bible?
Kaneh bosm in mentioned in the Bible five times:
1. In this verse, God is advising Moses on how to create holy anointing oil. He tells Moses to: “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of fragrant reed..” -Exodus 30:22-23
2. Here Solomon is celebrating his wife’s beauty, comparing her to a garden and, “an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon..” -Song of Solomon 4:14
3. In this verse, Isaiah is predicting imminent judgement for the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and he tells them, “You have not bought me sweet cane with money, or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices…” -Isaiah 43:23-24
4. Ezekiel is speaking to the Jews and says, “and casks of wine from Uzal they exchanged for your wares; wrought iron, cassia and calamus were bartered for your merchandise..” -Ezekiel 27:19
5. Jeremiah berates the people of Pathros for being sinful, and kaneh bosm is vaguely mentioned when the people of Pathros are talking about their offerings to God. -Jeremiah 44:15-23
Each verse only mentions kaneh bosm in the context of an offering, for use in an anointing oil, as an item to be sold, or when describing someone. Not once was weed mentioned as something sinful, and every time it is mentioned, it is spoken about casually. While there are no negative connotations towards cannabis in the Bible, many people nonetheless associate smoking with sin.
Is smoking forbidden in the Bible?
This is a hard question that some people may struggle with. The short answer: it depends. The Bible never says specifically, “don’t smoke weed”, yet most people have been told time and time again that smoking is a sin. Stigma has a lot to do with what is considered sinful.
In Romans 14:14-15, it is said that, “nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love”. This verse states that nothing is inherently sinful by itself, but becomes sinful if it hurts someone close to you. Some might say that this would make smoking weed sinful, especially if those around you do not condone the consumption of cannabis.
But in Romans 14:19 it says, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” If smoking weed brings you peace and helps you to become more understanding of those around you, then it wouldn’t be considered sinful.
Saying weed is or isn’t sinful would be a blanket statement, but the truth is that it depends on the person. Smoking weed can become sinful if it causes you to stumble in your values and morals, but smoking weed isn’t sinful on its own. If you are trying to decide whether or not to smoke weed because you feel conflicted on the morality of it all, I say give it a shot. God and weed can go hand in hand when done right.
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