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What Is the Jewish Stance on Marijuana?

What Is the Jewish Stance on Marijuana?



I am asking this question in all seriousness, as it troubles me to not know what the Jewish belief is regarding marijuana. 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 is the Jewish standpoint on this issue?


I don’t think we can say that there is a “Jewish stance” on marijuana. It’s much more a social issue than anything else. That’s because the issue is not the drug itself, but how it is used—and how it is used depends principally on social issues.

For example, as I’m sure you know, alcohol is a far more dangerous drug than marijuana. 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. 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 so much 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

  1. buy it when there are no kids shopping with me
  2. sneak it into the house
  3. hide it where they don’t suspect
  4. take it out and consume it when none of them are around
  5. 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. Then go work out at the gym for 20 minutes. You’ll get high, higher than you could imagine.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for

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 (159)
September 1, 2014
A good example with the chocolate. And good advise to look for sth to replace the addiction.

About the marijuana.
Canabis is and will be a drug. There is no light or hard drugs. There are drugs that destroy your family and its futere in one or in few generations. The harmlessness of canabis seems to be a pure invention of the addicts themselves. The stories about vast number of research being carried out and proved that there is no harm etc., are just self deceiving stories. In fact, drugs leave a long lasting effectbon the quality of your reproductive health. That means, your future children are much more likely to develop some kind of mental and/or phisical demage. Everything comes at cost.The same with alcohol. And you will give over the willingness to have a smoke to your kids. The end of the story in one way or another is very sad. So stay away from everything and teach the same to everyone around you. For doing the opposit and not doing anything is a sin.
Juris Bogdanovs
August 31, 2014
קנה בוסם = kaneh bosem. In the Torah in sefer shmot when Moshe is giving the ingredients for the anointing oil he commands them to use cannabis(which I'm sure came from their own crop). All of our answers are in the Torah all the time
August 31, 2014
Cannanis medicine
A lot of interesting comments, especially from irvine rosenfeld, who gets his cannabis from the us government to treat his illness.
Cannabis has been used as a medicine for at least 5000 years, in china. I did some research and the early Christians outlawed it. Although the Romans used to use it. The CIA is against it because it makes people think for themselves...
I heard the Rebbe said a cigarette would be invented that would be harmless. Tobacco in the us is grown with radioactive fertilizer. So I think he was referring to medical cannabis.
Probably the most dangerous drug is 'ice' a concentrated form of speed. Highly addictive and deadly, I have heard of illegal cannabis being mixed with it. Perhaps it's happened to me I don't know. But I have never willfully tried any dangerous drugs, except alcohol and tobacco, the latter which I greatly despise...
So clearly cannabis is not a gateway drug. It needs to be legalised and regulated, so we can know we are getting a quality product!
August 31, 2014
here is the issue
The thing obviously, is that there are many real medical benefits, many medicinal', and then there's the healthy people who 'just want to get high'
of the last, we seem to be 'against', and then some will be against medical mj because they feel it leads to the healthy people having their legalization.

the thing is, non legalization, hurts the medical patients, because it keeps the black market, the high prices.

Then they say but its ok the way it is, this way less people would try it.

you have to ask yourself, if the alchoholics, would switch to cannabis, as we are seeing in Colorado and Washington, isn't this better?

And my theory is that hard drug use would lower because, currently there is no weed only dealers, for the most part, they deal in anything they can get. so one day, the cannabis consumer goes to his dealer, who offers free sample of hard drugs. you know this happens, i can attest to this.

so wouldn't it be better to let people consume cannabis in a safe place?
glen rock
August 31, 2014
I had edible before shule, I participated in the shiur, davened w. gr8 kavannh, talked 2 people, at Shalosh seudas, usuaaly I go home, I am shy by nature, this helps to free me from shyness. wat is the problem? moderate use.
August 31, 2014
12 step
12 steps for mj hardly exists. for alchohol, cocaine, yes there are many. I went once to mj 12 steps in nj. there are maybr 3 groups in entire state. mine fizzeled anyway, now there's 2, means people don't have problem.

look, the issue is not if u like it, but should I have the freedom.

all harms' mentioned by the dr. here, no proof, show us links.
glen rock
August 30, 2014
Jewish Stance On Marijuana
Great reply, Rabbi! You got to the only real issues, and debunked the "Reefer Madness" espoused by the uneducated, intolerant ones who are criticizing you. They could show that milk from a mother's breast is a "gateway drug," simply because it came first, yes, it gets the child high, woozy, and sleepy) while still justifying their own boozing. The liquor lobby owns their minds on this.
Satellite Beach, FL
August 30, 2014
Maybe it's because I'm from Holland, but here it's no issue. I have 2 kids and a boyfriend that loves smoking weed. The kids don't see a difference between a cig and a joint and they know it's not healthy. Here it's not associated with dealers, 'the streets' and danger, because it's legal. He feels relaxed when he smokes and no one needs to hide anything. I agree it's not very healthy physically, but it's a plant. Didn't G'd give us nature to enjoy it? I also took magic truffles with him when the kids were at their grandparents (I never smoke or would never use drugs when they're around, cause I wanna be there for them when they need me). I must say, taking the truffles I saw life in a very new perspective. It made me very philosophical and made me understand myself so much better. I got new insights in life that help me stay more positive every day now.

For me it's just an occasional (and in Holland legal) thing to use some natural drugs, but I'll stay far from anything chemical.
August 29, 2014
@Adamster This is not a Republican Democrat debate where you stick to your own talking points. Go research the other side from the medical industry, not from the pot medical industry and you will find much different.

@Andy You also need to research the modern research about using the helpful parts of the plant to make pills without the harmful parts. They have found many medical uses beyond headaches. Living in Los Angeles though the medical dispensaries are a joke. But far be it from me to disallow real medicine from the plant.
Yaakov Mark
Los angeles
August 29, 2014
I just believe thetr are a lot of age appropriate areas that one has to be careful with when dealing with children. Take sex, for example. Married couples "hide" to have sex, "lie" about what they are doing, and take time away from their children, possibly, to have time for themselves. I do not believe there is much social baggage that goes along with pot anymore, though some remains. When the Volstead Act came into being alcohol sales went underground, sales skyrocketed, and people died. Minors should never have to be exposed to dealers who offer them crack, heroin, cocaine, or any of the hard core drugs. Society should legalize it. Over 50% of Americans use marijuana. Why do we insist on sending young people/people into an ungodly penal system for using pot, which is incorrectly labeled as a narcotic? The animal rights people would not let animals stay in the confines we impose on human beings. ASAM has proven addictions to be a chronic/primary brain disease. Incarcerate for disease?
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