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The Hidden History of Cannabis in 4 World Religions

  • by Alfonso Colasuonno

Is cannabis holy?

Even the most ardent cannabis enthusiast might have a difficult time suppressing a smirk in response to that question.

But is it really such an outlandish proposition?

Granted, in the modern era, the orthodox opinion of Hindus, Jews, Christians, and Muslims is that cannabis is not something to be indulged in, at least for recreational purposes.

However, when you dig a little deeper, a different story begins to emerge.

Could it be that the current mainstream positions on cannabis and faith are simply one perspective, and that perspective can be countered not only from outside of the context of these religions, but from inside as well?

Cannabis plants in religious history - Goldleaf

We are presenting these passages from religious texts and commentators because they have been interpreted by some to be pro-cannabis. Read on to decide for yourself:

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” – Genesis 1:29

This Biblical passage states that God created all flora for our meat (i.e. consumption). Cannabis can thus be perceived as permitted—perhaps even encouraged—in the Jewish and Christian traditions.

“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” – Genesis 9:3

In this verse from the book of Genesis, God communicates to Noah and his sons that he has given them “the green herb,” a possible allusion to cannabis.

“But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” – Isaiah 43:22–24

In the King James Bible, the word “kaneh” (i.e. an abbreviation for kaneh-bosm) is translated as “sweet cane.” Other versions of the Bible translate kaneh as calamus, another type of plant. Given the reference to incense in the preceding sentence and the longstanding tradition in many ancient cultures of burning cannabis and “eating the smoke,” it is not outside the realm of possibility that this word has been mistranslated and that God is indicating in this passage that offerings of cannabis are pleasing to Him.

“There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.” – Mark 7:15

Jesus states in this verse that nothing that a person consumes can defile them. Some understand this to mean that cannabis consumption has no effect on a Christian’s salvation.

“It is the secret. In it the spirit ascends to the highest spots on a heavenly ascent of disembodied understanding.” – Al-Is’irdi

According to Chris Bennett of Cannabis Culture, the above quote from revered 13th century Islamic poet Al-Is’irdi is a direct reference to hashish. While Muslims overwhelmingly view alcohol as haram, or forbidden by Islamic law, hashish has occupied a gray area throughout the centuries. Some sects of Islam, like the Sufis, have widely consumed hashish to draw closer to Allah. Other less pot-friendly Muslims simply view hashish and other forms of cannabis as makrooh (i.e. a disliked, yet not forbidden, act).

“Asvattha, Darbha, King of Plants, is Soma, deathless sacrifice. Barley and Rice are healing balms, the sons of Heaven who never die. Lift yourselves up, ye Healing Plants, loud is the thunder’s crash and roar.” – Atharva Veda, Book 8, Hymn VII: 20–21

Soma is a substance referenced in the Vedas. Some believe it refers to bhang, an edible cannabis drink. This assertion is perhaps backed up by the fact that Shiva and Kali, two of Hinduism’s foremost deities, have extremely strong associations with cannabis.

Do your family members or close friends view cannabis in a negative light? Learn a few effective ways to change their mind about cannabis by reading this post.
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