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What Does the Bible Say About Marijuana?

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What Does the Bible Say About Marijuana?

Examining God’s Word makes clear whether He approves of consuming this plant.

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The topic of marijuana can be perplexing to Bible readers. This is because it is not mentioned directly in Scripture. No straightforward verse says, “Thou shalt not use cannabis.”

What makes the discussion more complicated is that societal norms are softening around the use of the drug—not to mention recreational use has been legalized in areas of the United States.

“Pot is so popular that, in 2015, its sales surpassed Girl Scout cookies, Oreos, and Dasani bottled water. By 2026, analysts predict it will match, and eventually outpace, America’s $50 billion wedding industry,” a 2017 Time Magazine article stated.

Even now, marijuana is more popular than cigarettes. A 2022 Gallup poll showed that 16 percent of Americans reported smoking marijuana, while only 11 percent had smoked a tobacco cigarette.

As of mid-2023, only six states still maintain a complete ban on the drug. Others have not legalized it but have adopted more lenient stances such as permitting its use for medical purposes.

Where should Christians land on this topic?

Think about other substances that have generated religious questions. One is alcohol. Jesus Christ’s first public miracle in John 2 involved turning water into wine at a wedding—a clear reference. This and other plain verses show Christians can enjoy alcohol responsibly while avoiding drunkenness.

Meat is another example. In Leviticus 11, laws regarding clean and unclean animals clarify that Bible believers can freely enjoy eating meat, with the understanding that there are specific animals designated as “unclean” by God that are to be avoided in their diet.

Without specific references to marijuana, one could reasonably ask, “Are Christians free to use it?”

Some conclude God does not care, it is just a personal choice, or a gray area. Others go as far as to claim that marijuana appears in the Bible, possibly under a different, ancient name.

Yet Romans 12:2 instructs us to “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” That verse leaves no room for assumptions! There must be a way to “prove” whether the God who “fearfully and wonderfully” designed our bodies (Psa. 139:14) allows us to use marijuana.

How can we learn God’s will on something the Bible seems silent about?

To uncover the answer, let’s analyze verses that reveal God’s teachings about plants and substances such as cannabis and their effects. We will address some of the most obvious—though often misinterpreted—scriptures, making the answer undeniably clear.

“Every Green Herb for Meat”

Genesis 1:29 says this: “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.”

Does this passage imply that all plants on Earth are suitable for human consumption?

If we read the next verse carelessly, it could seem that way: “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (vs. 30).

This verse appears to indicate that marijuana, being both green and an herb, is appropriate for human consumption. However, this logic presents a significant problem: The deadly poisonous nightshade, rosary pea and oleander would also have to be considered safe for human consumption. But consuming these plants can result in death! Even the smoke produced by burning oleander can be lethal.

It is evident that although God created these toxic plants, He did not intend for them to be consumed, smoked or injected. He provided certain plants for our consumption, while others are not meant to be used that way. This is similar to how God differentiated between clean and unclean animals.

While the passage above does mention “every green herb,” it does not describe what humans should consume. Instead, it pertains to providing food for animals, birds, reptiles and insects. It does not in any way give us a license to use marijuana.

Genesis 2:9 describes trees that are “good for food.” Realize that to say that certain trees are “good for food” demands that there are others that are not “good for food.”

“All Things Are Lawful”

The New Testament verse of I Corinthians 6:12 also has the potential to lead to erroneous conclusions if we are not careful. The apostle Paul wrote, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

From this, some conclude that as long as a person does not become controlled by—addicted to—marijuana, its use could be considered “lawful” in the eyes of God.

Yet if we assume that this apostle literally meant that “all things” are acceptable so long as we do not become addicted to or dependent on them, then that would mean occasional acts of murder, adultery, stealing, false testimony, coveting, idolatry, blasphemy, dishonoring parents, pride, envy, jealousy, gossip, slander, hatred, anger, rage, drunkenness, rebellion against authority, selfishness, hypocrisy and so on, should all be regarded as “lawful” too as long as we do not become “under the power of any,” right?

Also, since our discussion pertains to a substance, then all substances should be considered “lawful” for consumption if people do not let them control their bodies. This would include cyanide, arsenic, mercury, ricin, and strychnine.

Of course, both arguments above are ludicrous. Absurd as these assertions sound, this is where such reasoning leads. Alleging that I Corinthians 6:12 permits marijuana use is just as ridiculous.

The Contemporary English Version offers a more explicit rendition of this verse: “Some of you say, ‘We can do anything we want to.’ But I tell you that not everything is good for us. So I refuse to let anything have power over me.”

Interestingly, Paul repeated a similar statement almost word-for-word in a later chapter, providing a clearer qualifier: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (I Cor. 10:23).

When properly understood, Paul’s statements warn us to make wise choices in our actions, rather than endorsing the use of substances like marijuana.

“Be Sober”

I Thessalonians 5:6 states, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” So far, we have focused on verses that could be confusing if not read carefully. The command here, however, is plain: Be sober.

Getting high on cannabis is incompatible with being sober. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Recent marijuana use (defined as within 24 hours) in youth and adults has an immediate impact on thinking, attention, memory, coordination, movement, and time perception.”

These impairments can make it difficult to think clearly, maintain focus and make rational choices, leading to poor decision-making and an increased likelihood of engaging in behavior we might avoid when sober. This increases the risk of accidents, particularly when performing tasks that require precision or quick reflexes.

The CDC also reports, “After alcohol, marijuana is the substance most often associated with impaired driving.”

At this point, you might wonder why moderate alcohol consumption is considered acceptable in the Bible while moderate marijuana use is not. That is a valid question.

The simple answer is that alcohol—not marijuana—is God’s chosen substance for moderate merriment. Had God intended marijuana for “recreational use,” we would find references to it in His Word. However, Ecclesiastes 10:19 mentions “wine” as the merrymaking substance, not cannabis. The Hebrew word yayin is translated as wine 136 times in the King James Version.

In the New Testament, Jesus Himself told the disciples, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine [wine], until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s Kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). The Greek word for vine is ampelos, which is always translated vine. The marijuana plant is not a vine. The grape is.

Nevertheless, God does not show favoritism toward any form of intoxication. Inebriation, whether from alcohol or marijuana, will hinder a person from entering God’s Kingdom.

It is worth noting that long-term abuse of alcohol and marijuana tends to have distinct effects. Alcohol abuse is associated with physical problems like liver disease, pancreatitis and heart damage. On the other hand, while smoking marijuana can cause lung damage, its abuse primarily impacts the mind, possibly leading to conditions like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

“Sound Mind”

II Timothy 1:7 states, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The Greek term for “sound mind” means self-control.

Marijuana is well-known to alter the mind, making it more challenging to control one’s cravings or maintain sound judgment. For example, one common effect is an increase in hunger, often called “the munchies.”

The potential implications, however, go beyond merely making you insatiably hungry. Multiple studies have linked marijuana use to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions, particularly among teenagers and recreational users who experience depression.

NBC News recently quoted a psychiatrist based in New York City who has observed a notable outcome: “Of all the people I’ve diagnosed with a psychotic disorder…I can’t think of a single one who wasn’t also positive for cannabis.”

Although some proponents argue that cannabis has no significant impact on the mind, it is worth considering why people consume it if not for its mind-altering (psychoactive) effects. It would not be popular if it were no different from the weeds growing on someone’s lawn!

“No Rule Over His Own Spirit”

This verse presents a powerful analogy that perfectly applies to marijuana use: “He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Prov. 25:28).

Marijuana is often referred to as a “gateway drug” due to the increased risk it is said to bring for further substance abuse. While researchers debate to what degree this is true, one thing is certain: It is a spiritual gateway drug.

Some religions build ceremonies around marijuana, using hallucinogens to connect with the spirit world. Even when not used for religious purposes, people who do drugs often say that getting high opens their minds. This is dangerous!

Experienced ministers of God who have counseled individuals struggling with demonic issues understand that these fallen angels often target those who lack firm control over their minds. Recreational drugs like marijuana—in all forms, not just when smoked—only exacerbate this problem, as they contribute to the loosening and opening of a person’s mind instead of helping them keep proper control.

Consider the words of Jesus Christ: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he comes, he finds it swept and garnished. Then goes he, and takes to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26).

The lesson here is straightforward. When a person has a demon expelled, it is crucial to actively fortify the walls of their mind—the opposite of loosening them—to prevent ending up in a worse condition. Any substance that degrades a person’s ability to control their mind must therefore be avoided.

“Gird Up the Loins of Your Mind”

The next verse builds on the previous one: “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 1:13).

Through our examination, it has already become obvious that consuming marijuana opposes the act of girding one’s mind. This brings together three crucial elements. We cannot maintain hope for the grace to be granted us at Christ’s Return unless we maintain sobriety. Achieving sobriety is only possible when the loins of our minds are girded. The use of recreational drugs such as marijuana hampers this process.

A Drug Fact Sheet published by the U.S. Department of Justice states: “When marijuana is smoked, the active ingredient THC passes from the lungs and into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the organs throughout the body, including the brain. In the brain, THC connects to specific sites called cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells and influences the activity of those cells.”

As we delve deeper into these scriptures, the picture becomes unmistakable: There is no provision for marijuana use if we are trying to live God’s Way.

“Pharmakeia” and “Pharmakos”

A list of “the works of the flesh” is outlined in Galatians 5:19-21. It includes sins such as “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies...”

The Greek term used for witchcraft in this passage is pharmakeia, which Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines as “the use or the administering of drugs.”

Similarly, in Revelation 22:15, those pictured outside the Kingdom of God include “sorcerers [pharmakos]...”

Note that while these terms are related to the word pharmacy, they do not condemn pharmacists or pharmacies, nor do they imply that all pharmaceuticals are inherently evil. Instead, they pertain to specific drug use that leads a person to act against God’s will.

Revelation 9:21 introduces another list. It mentions people who did not repent of their “murders, nor of their sorceries [pharmakeia], nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

Drug use is depicted in this verse as something individuals should have repented from. Repentance means to change—to turn away from sin. Sin is the transgression of God’s Law—what He says to do or not do. Read I John 3:4.

Biblically, the consumption of marijuana should be understood as a sinful act that can ultimately disqualify Christians from entering the Kingdom—this is serious.

“Idols in Their Heart”

God told the prophet Ezekiel, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face...” (Ezek. 14:3).

This prophecy reveals that idols encompass more than the typical graven images found in worldly churches. There are also “idols of the heart [mind].”

These idols are particularly dangerous because they are not easily recognized for what they are. The final verse of the book of I John warns, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (5:21). Anything we prioritize above God’s will has the potential to become an idol. This includes marijuana.

Understand this substance as God does—it is an idol of the heart. If a person who wants to obey God desires to use marijuana, they should ask: “Why would I consume such a substance?” If the response is, “Well, it just helps me relax,” why not rely on God’s Spirit to achieve the same result? If we ever feel the need to rely on a substance for relaxation rather than using God’s Spirit as our “Comforter” (John 14:16), we undoubtedly have an idol. Regarding idolatry, God is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5). His instruction is always to “flee from idolatry” (I Cor. 10:14).

No wonder the terms witchcraft and sorcery are biblically interchangeable with drug use!

When applying Ezekiel 14:3 to marijuana and similar drugs, individuals may literally be putting “the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face.” God is explicit.

God’s Final Say

A Christian’s ultimate goal is to cultivate God’s holy and righteous character, aspiring to one day join His Family. This process involves allowing Jesus Christ to dwell within us, enabling Him to live through us by the power of His Spirit (Gal. 2:20).

With this in mind, it is worth reflecting: Would Jesus Christ, if He were physically present on Earth today as He was in the first century, engage in marijuana use? More pointedly, ask yourself: “Would He consume marijuana through me?”

Seriously take a moment to ponder! The answer should be obvious.

No longer should this topic be perplexing to Bible readers. The reason God’s Word does not speak directly about marijuana is because it does not have to! The Bible provides timeless principles that apply to all such substances.

Marijuana is just one among many other drugs that could someday be legalized by the governments of men. This should be unsurprising, as human leaders tend to legalize what they cannot fully control. This is understandable in a world disconnected from a God who outlines right from wrong (Isa. 59:1-2).

God’s stance on marijuana is clear. The same proof can be applied to any other mind-altering substance that may become popular in society. You can take this article, replace its references to marijuana and statistics about it with any substance in question. Then, voila, you will have God’s answer. The title could stay almost intact: What Does the Bible Say About [enter latest legalized mind-altering drug]?” The scriptures would remain applicable because, as King Solomon wisely said, “There is no new thing under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9).

Suggesting the Bible condones the use of marijuana requires disregarding or outright rejecting God’s plain words. While the legal status of marijuana may now vary according to manmade laws, it is undeniably regarded as illegal based on God’s Word.

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