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Response to a Casual Marijuana User

Response to a Casual Marijuana User

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Question:

A while back, I was struggling with hard drugs and going downhill fast academically and socially. Since then I have experienced a series of ups and downs, but today I have a good job and live happily for the most part.

Now, here is my dilemma. I smoke marijuana on a casual basis, and do not see it having a negative effect on my life. I have strayed far away from the hard drugs I once took, and feel that marijuana is a safe way for me to indulge myself from time to time. I am a musician, artist and thinker, and hopeful I’m not sounding like a 1960s cliché when I say I have a somewhat more profound, surreal and exciting experience when I do this.

I suppose my question is this: What are your thoughts on my occasional, casual use of mj?

Answer:

What complicates this question is that it’s not just the substance, but also the social issue. In other words, the issue is not just the drug itself, but how it is used—and how it is used depends principally on its social context.

For example, as I’m sure you know, even though marijuana is not without its fair package of damage, alcohol is really a more dangerous drug. However, Jews have created a social ambience for it that greatly limits the dangers involved. If you had lived in Baghdad 100 years ago, there may have been something similar for the use of hashish.

Marijuana today brings with it a lot of social baggage. It also doesn’t come with that traditional context of kiddush and l’chaim—and quite the contrary. Right now, that may not affect you. But what will happen when you decide to start a family? You have to buy it, hide it, explain it …more and more problems.

Bottom line, it’s not only the chemical effect of the marijuana on you—it’s everything that goes along with it.

I’ll give an example from a very different but similar situation:

Chocolate is one of my greatest weaknesses. Problem is, once I start eating dark chocolate, I get strong cravings for it. But dark chocolate is a stimulant, and most of my family—me included—are very sensitive to stimulants. Meaning that if I or one of my kids eats enough dark chocolate after 4 PM, there’s no way we’re going to be sleeping until after 2 AM.

So, in order for me to eat chocolate, I need to…

  • buy it when there are no kids shopping with me
  • sneak it into the house
  • hide it where they don’t suspect
  • take it out and consume it when none of them are around
  • wash out my mouth afterwards—they’re so good at detecting these things.

Nevertheless, my compulsion for dark chocolate was so great, I tried anyways. Needless to say, I was eventually discovered.

But what really shook me up was what my children learned from this. It wasn’t just that they said, “Hey, Daddy’s got chocolate and he’s hiding it from us!” That’s bad enough. What’s worse is that they emulated my behavior: They snuck the chocolate from my hiding place, hid it and ate it at night.

I like chocolate, but I don’t want my children to learn to steal, lie or cheat. Today, there are no dark chocolate bars hiding in my secret place.

That’s chocolate. With Mary Jane and all she brings with her—the implications for kids, the social milieu, the parties, the dealers, the street—okay, you’re intelligent, you can work it all out.

It’s not fair unless I provide an alternative: Attend a Torah class at your local Chabad House. The teachings of the chassidic masters and the kabbalists are great meditation material. Throw your mind into something deep and mind-altering—only that in this case, you are the one altering your own mind. And you can also go work out at the gym for 30 minutes. You’ll get high, higher than you could imagine.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Discussion (228)
March 17, 2015
Don't smoke on Shabbes. Kne-Bosim is the only good drug...that includes alcohol and especially tobacco, cigarettes are toxic with deadly chemical added.
Josh
Hobart
March 17, 2015
Ha Ha Ha! Very funny, Sorry!
Where does vodka comes from? Isn’t from fruits too or vegetables like any other wines? All I know is usually the kiddush is done over wine. I suppose some people go to the extreme using something a bit stronger. Is this a general tradition? I don’t think so. Don’t pour all the Chassidishe in one cup! Vodka was customary for Russian, Polish and people living in the bitter icy cold of Siberia to warm up their heart and soul and stay alive. It was handed down from generation to generation but might have stopped with the new ones. Although I do not believe in alcohol, I do have a certain respect for these people as our ancestors. But I would not encourage anyone to follow on their trail today.
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
March 16, 2015
To Feigele
I thought it was evident that when I spoke of alcohol abuse in chassidishe circles, I wasn't talking about wine. "Brown" and "white" are not wines. Have you ever seen the result of people making kiddush on vodka? I have. On occasion, I've also had to avoid stepping in said result.
Shmuel
Chicago
March 15, 2015
discussion
This discussion no longer goes according to sechel. Chabad don't openly support medical cannabis, because there are enough good people already in jail for this.
This has nothing to do with Juidaism, and all to do with living in a opressed state, Mitzrayim!
Anonymous
Hobart
March 13, 2015
Kids are getting high from the THC in cooked brownies all the time. I do not get it. Anyway, your question regarding Kashrus is simple. Its not milk or meat, nor is it pork or animal in anyway. All the plants are Kosher. The question here is if getting high is halachically acceptable. In that respect their are different rabbinical opinions and so you can rely on an opinion that says its ok, I am sure. (Disclaimer: I am not a Rav and my halachic answers should not be relied upon) You should ask your Rav. Is it antithetical to the practice of Judaism? Since Judaism teaches us to reduce our lust of pleasure and physical things, and instead to focus our lust for spiritual things, I would say Marijuana fits that bill. Others will say what about alcohol? My own opinion is that alcohol in moderation, leaves the system quite nicely while THC sticks in the brain and accumulates over time. I believe that over time it makes you less spiritually sensitive.
Yaakov Mark
Los Angeles
March 11, 2015
Ignoring the social aspects and recreational use...
This plant, this herb can be cooked with. It can be added to our food to enhance taste and we do get a little nutritional value from it. We have receptors in our body that is specifically designed to absorb the compounds found in the plant itself. The way I use this is during cooking. THC the psychoactive chemical mostly evaporates as long as the temperature is at a certain level. With all of this information, using it as an herb to cook food, does it meet the scriptural requirements to be regarded as Kosher?
Anonymous
Brooksville, Florida
October 31, 2014
Again, two (or more) wrongs don’t make one right!
All right, there is alcohol already, which has been developed from fruits also for thousand years—someone must have left them to rot somewhere and realized that it tasted ok, then we all know the effect of that result. So why add another intoxicant to the group? You keep mentioning the “Chassidishe circles” as if they were the only group on earth to drink wine, which is enjoyed all over the world. Wine has its benefit in vitamins and other nutritious values that Marijuana doesn’t have. But, today we discover that this plant has also some medicinal benefits and as such should only be used for that purpose. We all have our share of “tsures” in this life and I could also use the help of something but I know deeply that it wouldn’t solve anything. Reality is here to stay not illusions of a short moment.
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
October 31, 2014
Don't be silly
Marijuana isn't "here to stop your life." It's an intoxicant, of course, and any intoxicant can be abused (as alcohol so often is in chassidishe circles, with very little condemnation). The argument that since we have liquor we don't need another intoxicant works great for those who want to get high and like where alcohol takes them. And if they don't? Tough luck. At the next farbrengen, they can choose white or brown. The שר המשקה will be bringing bottles around regularly. By the way, despite what you may have heard, controlling one's behavior is far more difficult under the influence of alcohol.
Shmuel
Chicago
October 30, 2014
It's your life...
New technology is here to improve your life while marijuana is here to stop it, while under its effect your mind is at rest not going anywhere. This is your life and as such you make your own choices, which we are not arguing with, but as human buddies, we are to warn anyone of possible risks and taking such chances is a gamble, as is any other abuses. We can’t always involve the Bible as excuses. It takes knowledge, common sense, wisdom and experience to make decisions.
Feigele
Boca Raton FL
October 30, 2014
@adamster
adamster you bring up so many good points. Why should we add marijuana to the long list of other temptations that we already have. our inhibitions are what help us to control these things in our lives and we are gonna take a drug that wipes out our inhibitions so that my ability to control everything else goes away while I am smoking it, and eventually while I am not smoking it.

Yes sugar, caffeine, lack of sleep, sex, etc. are all things that can get out of hand. Marijuana will only make it worse.
Yaakov Mark
Los Angeles
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