What does the Bible say about marijuana?

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Question: Does the Bible approve of smoking marijuana (pot)? It it always bad for us? Can a medicinal use of the drug be justified?

Answer: The Bible does not mention marijuana (pot) by name. In the United States, the legal use of this drug, either for recreational or for medicinal purposes, is a hotly debated subject. This is partly because the government considers the plant a high level controlled substance. Its possession is considered a federal offense punishable by up to one year in jail. Penalties for cultivating or selling marijuana are even more severe.

In 2014, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, there were a little more than 22 million citizens using marijuana (pot). It is estimated that 6.5 million of these individuals use it on a daily or almost daily basis. According to the agency, marijuana is considered the most widely abused illicit drug.

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In spite of federal law, as of 2017, twenty-nine U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have made it legal to use marijuana for certain medical reasons. The drug is used in these places to treat or improve the symptoms brought on by approved conditions such as HIV / AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, chronic pain and several others.

The use of marijuana is not directly addressed in Scripture. That said, the fact that God brought it into existence cannot be used, of itself, as a justification for using it today. He did indeed create all plant life, but not all plants are meant to be consumed by humans in one form or another.

Dried pot (marijuana) flowers
Dried pot flowers

Believers are called to honor God with their bodies because it is where his Spirit, which makes a person a true Christian, resides (1Corinthians 6:19 - 20). This means we should shy away from things that could defile or pollute it. We are also commanded to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to him (Romans 12:1).

Paul's second letter to the Corinthians indirectly addresses the use of marijuana (pot) when it states, "For you are a temple of the living God . . . says the Lord, 'and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you'" (2Corinthians 6:16 - 17). Christians are admonished to reject those things that are not good for them so that the Father can receive them. These, and other verses, point to the rejection of this plant for recreational purposes.

While the recreational use of marijuana would not be acceptable, its medicinal use is another issue entirely. A biblical argument could be made for using it in special cases such as with those experiencing chronic pain or someone who is suffering before they die. For example, Proverbs states the following principle which could be applied to medicinal marijuana use, "Give strong drink (alcohol) to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are of heavy hearts" (Proverbs 31:6, HBFV).

The above principle of using a substance to alleviate true suffering lends itself to a possible biblical (but not legal) justification of medicinal marijuana use. Believers, however, should always pray for God to reveal his will in their particular situations and be aware of the possible consequences that might come in whatever decision they make.

Additional Study Materials
Can we eat whatever we want?
Famous New Testament Last Words!
Did Jesus drink wine?
Why shouldn't we eat Ezekiel's bread?

MedlinePlus Web site
National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

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