Cannabis and Spirituality

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By: Melissa Cornwell

As I watched this Sunday’s church sermon on my local church’s Facebook page last week (we are social isolating in our household due to high risk conditions), our pastor’s sermon prompted me to wonder if I was really an acceptable candidate to join this church’s membership.  Am I being judged and found wanting?  Is this church really where I should be worshipping- where I feel accepted, welcomed, and able to worship freely?  After moving to a new location recently, I never really paused to consider whether my cannabis use for medicinal purposes and advocacy/ activism would be frowned upon by my fellow church members.  I certainly do not hide this fact.  To me, medicating with cannabis is no different than a diabetic administering themselves insulin or a pain patient medicating with a prescribed pain reliever.  With the pastor’s description of “acceptable” church group members, it reinforced to me the need to reexamine whether my spiritual needs are being met or not.  I decided to set out on a quest to gather the latest information available online about organizational support and prohibition of cannabis by the differing religious groups.

Cannabis support among the differing religious organizations ranges from using cannabis to enhance spiritual development and transcendence (known as an entheogen) to strict prohibition regardless of medicinal properties.  One group, the Rastafari in Jamaica, believe the cannabis plant to be the Tree of Life referenced in the Book of Genesis.  It has been recently discovered that early Christians and Jews utilized cannabis in religious rituals.  Trace evidence of cannabis use at holy sites has been documented but still fiercely debated.  Many scholars believe cannabis use was documented in the Old Testament of the Bible.  It is believed that the plant called kaneh bosm in the Book of Exodus might in fact be references to cannabis use.  In Exodus, God commanded Moses to make a holy oil consisting of myrrh, cinnamon, cassia, and kaneh bosm.

The following is a summarization of attitudes and beliefs gathered from among different religious websites.  It is certainly not all-inclusive and may not reflect individual sects of religious groups which may have a differing viewpoint on cannabis use.   Most religious prohibition beliefs are based upon avoiding intoxication

Opposed                                     Favor                               Support medicinal

Orthodox Islam                                Hinduism                             Baha’i

Assembly of God                              Rastafari                              Catholic

Baptist                                             Taoism                                 Islam

Protestants                                                                                   Judaism

Assembly of God                                                                              Sikhism

Pentecostal and holiness                                                              Buddhism

The Church of Jesus Christ and                                                   Presbyterian, Methodist, United Church of

       Latter Day Saints                                                                               Christ, Episcopal

Scientology                                                                                         Confucism

Hopefully, if you are having a crisis of faith and questioning your religious support, this will help you along your journey.  Many new church factions have been formed in the last century that specifically support cannabis use in their membership, whether for spiritual, recreational, or medicinal use.  These include The THC Ministry, Cantheism, Temple420, The Church of the Universe, and more.  One church, the First Church of Cannabis was founded in Indiana in 2015 by a reformed Jew.  This church has received tax exempt status from the IRS and monthly membership dues are $4.20.

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