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Response to a Casual Marijuana User

Response to a Casual Marijuana User



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?


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, 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.
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Discussion (222)
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.
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.
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.
Boca Raton FL
October 30, 2014
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
October 26, 2014
The Bible doesn't say about lots of things, like the smartphone. If so please tell me where and what it advises should one have a smart phone, even if it becomes an obsession? what danger is Marijuana? it can be over used, we are speaking of moderate consumption. Wine can also be over used. rational? not sure what you mean. You want to see bad, you see bad. Why don't you see the good?

Really what is natural state of mind? All kinds of things one could criticize, too much coffee, too little sleep, always on the smart phone doing G-d knows what, always obessing about some thing or other, why this need to not live and let live, here for the most part
October 9, 2014
Daily Mail, Oct 7, 2014
The story about cannabis.
Facts - for a long time people saw a cure in tobacco and in opium smoking too. It was adviced to use them even by the educated people of that time...I see the same happening with cannabis. If you need something to get high, you already have a problem. And it only means you do not have a God in your hearts.
September 23, 2014
Two (or more) wrongs don't make a right!
No questions about it! It is and has been done for thousand years and everywhere on earth. But that doesn’t make it right! I don’t know what and if the Bible says anything about it. If I believe some of the Bible guidances, I certainly don’t know it all--same for everyone else. What I really believe is that the bible advises to not hurt anyone or yourself voluntarily by any means, unless you are in danger, and taking drug is, unless used for medical reasons. Of course, I’m sure it relaxes you so much that you are more opened to communication but is it really rational one? Or is it induced by the drug, which in normal times might not be the person’s real intent at all. It is not a natural state of mind. I am not criticizing anyone for doing so, I’m just expressing my views on this subject.
Boca Raton FL
September 22, 2014
Feigele, people have been getting high for 5000 years plus. if you look at other cultures, people get high. In Yemen, they chew the Ghat leaves, in the Pacific islands, they have one form or another of the Betel nut, South America, India, everywhere people do get high. The question is what does Judaism say, is it a good idea to 'just get high', assuming that there is no medical need. I would say, that if someone was going to learn Torah or do some community or other Mitzvah, and then consumed some Cannabis, and decided to watch Tv, then I agree that is trashy, from Judaism perspective. But for some cases Cannabis helps in Judaism. And also, not all cannabis consumers means that they don't want to converse and hang out with you. In some cases, the opposite, for many people cannabis helps to stimulate conversation and closeness. It all depends. We are seeing that not everyone who tries cannabis ends up with it throughout their lives, it's not everyone's cup of tea.
Glen Rock
September 22, 2014
Adamster I think that is probably what will end up happening. That medical is legalized federally and that it will be more controlled as medicine. Hopefully they will allow us the medical technology from places like Israel in relation to Cannabis.
Yaakov Mark
Los angeles
September 22, 2014
Leave me alone, dont bother me!
Of course it has to do everything with drug why this kid was killed. Stone or not, he knew he had possession of an illegal drug in his pocket and he panicked, and that’s the reason he flew from the cops, otherwise no other reasons to run. But, there were no reasons for the cops to shoot at him and kill him. Why don’t they ever shoot in the legs if they have to? We need more medicines, if no cures, for lots of diseases and suffering and if extracting CBD from Cannabis can help, then be it, I’m sure G-d would give his blessing to alleviate people’s pain. But where I don’t agree, is taking drugs for pleasure only when you can find other ways to enjoy yourself without getting high and in the clouds, while people around you cannot reach you. It is a very selfish way to tell people, I’m not here for you so leave me alone, don't bother me.
Boca Raton FL
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