Today we look at Judaism and its relationship marijuana in a modern contemporary setting. We’ll find out whether Jewish Law prohibits the use of recreational marijuana and why.
Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world – much older than Christianity and Islam. It’s teachings are documented as far back at 8th Century BCE. Judaism is monotheistic and has approximately 14 million followers globally, a markedly small number considering it’s influence on the Western world and long history.
You don’t have to be an orthodox jew to guess that marijuana isn’t a major tenet of the jewish faith. In fact, aside from anecdotal speculation that Christ himself may have smoked weed it’s fair to assume that weed smoking within the ranks of orthodoxy is not commonplace.
So, is marijuana kosher?
The individual opinion on one Rabbi, Aaron Tendler of JewishAnswers.org, when asked “Is it permitted to smoke marijuana?” gave this response:
“It is obviously forbidden to smoke marijuana, as this violates many basic laws of our Torah. First of all, it physically injures the person. Even if there are people who are not physically affected by this, it mentally affects the person as it destroys his mind, and prevents him from understanding things properly. This is a terrible thing, since not only can the individual not properly study Torah, he also can not pray and properly perform Mitzvos (commandments), since doing them mindlessly is considered as if they were not done at all.
Furthermore, he is creating within himself a very strong desire, which is much stronger than the desire to eat, etc. which are necessary for a person to live. There are many that can not control and withstand this desire. This is a very grave prohibition, as we find that a Ben Sorer U’Moreh [is killed] (See Deut. 21:18) for creating within himself a very strong desire, even though it is to eat Kosher food! How much more so it is forbidden for a person to bring upon himself an even greater desire, especially for something that a person does not need at all…”
Another Rabbi, Efraim Zalmanovich, weighed in on the use of drugs within the jewish community within his booked Alcoholism in Judaism:
“Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden.”
But how about medicinal marijuana?
Rabbi Zalamovich weighs in again – he thinks medicinal use of marijuana is entirely permissible.
If the drug is administered to relieve pain, then the person giving it is “performing a mitzvah,” and the person using the drug is using it “in a kosher fashion.” According to the Israeli health ministry, approximately 11,000 Israelis use medicinal marijuana, including people with post-traumatic disorders and Parkinson’s disease.