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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 (114)
August 27, 2014
A very well put anecdote, however, as a user of pot I would like to enlighten with truth. The first problem is short term memory loss, every smoker suffers from this. If you think this is not a problem, imagine getting important instructions, then, within minutes, you have forgotten them. (there goes the job). Secondly, it can cause severe paranoia and in some cases schizophrenia, (it lets demons into your soul). So, medical purposes for aches and pains, stomach pains, yes, it does work. It may be less harmful than tablets, the truth is, the problems usage causes far out way any of the benefits. I find singing and praising G-d gives me a natural 'high' that also relieves all my pains, I have no fears as I totally trust God, Issiah 43. My peace and rest come from Him and Him alone, when in doubt, pray it out. The psalms are like the healing balm of Gilead, like alcohol, we should use all forms of 'extras' with great caution, "a little wine is good for the belly", moderation is Godly
Brisbane Au
August 27, 2014
Cannabis conspiracy
'Cannabis is one of the safest therapeutically active substances know to man' FDA

The toxic dose of cannabis 40 000 to one.
That's impossible to consume...there are no recorded deaths.
August 27, 2014
Of course, a family member of marijuana, hemp, does not contain the drug that gives you the "High" but it was also banned in many countries. But hemp, which can be used for about 55 ooo thousand different applications ranging from building houses to a very successful cancer cure was lumped together with the drug and criminalised. The reason for this was the Du Pont company in the USA discovering Nylon and manipulating the American Government in order to protect it's own income. Plain, ordinary GREED. PITY SUCH THINGS ARE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. I asked a Rabbi about using hemp and he said it was not mentioned in the Torah and so there would be no harm in using it. Shalom.
Jan Stander
August 27, 2014
The state of Illinois recently passed Daniel's Law, legalizing the use of medical marajuana. The law was named after my late husband. He died before the law went into effect, but his doctors believed that marajuana would have relieved his pain better than narcotics. If Daniel had access to marajuana sooner, he might still be alive. HaShem made marajuana for a reason, unfortunately, it has become linked to more dangerous drugs. Please do not let your prejudice stop doctors from prescribing a less dangerous solution.
August 26, 2014
also, in the example of the baal Koreh, In my case, they pay me for reading. So it wouldn't occur to me to be intoxicated. It's also too early in the day... It's not appropriate time to have a shot. I was never a shot person myself. I took in large amounts of alchohol. Have not had any for 7 + years. and btw there is evidence that it has very helpful health affects even if not 'medicinal'. Of course one can live without it, but why do we prohibit when so many worse things are allowed such as gambling, tobacco, the alchohol. cell phones use while driving. I take a bus to work, I see every day people in the car talking and texting. Do we ban the cell phone because some people are irresponsible? no. we live with it. we try to educate for responsible use. it has a good effect. perfect? no but then what tell me.
Glen rock
August 26, 2014
RE: Drugs for fun?
DFF? you're not even close. Stop blaming Marijuana for all the bad in the world.
1. Not as dangerous as alchohol. You must be joking. 40000 deaths a year in the USA alone. road accidents, road rage, violence. hangovers, liver damage, too much sugar intake.etc.. What does MJ have like that? nothing.
2. Lung Cancer. Wrong. also most of us now use vaporizers and edibles. And even smoking does not lead. this has been disproven scientifically.
3. Gateway? no. disproven. No medical group agrees with this.

4. Complacent. not a factor. You can't discount all the high level acheivers in every field of endeavor. It's not a hard drug.

5. Americans. No you are ascribing a scape goat, according to your analysis of America and the world. But one could just as illogically say it's the obsession with sports or sex, or fb or millions of thngs.

6.DNA changes. no. no proof, this is afirst show us a link.

7. People can speak to G-d however they like. Based on what.
glen rock
August 26, 2014
a few things to add
Good article, but I would add a few things. First, the physical/psychological effects of pot are of concern, since there is evidence they cause anxiety, hamper cognition and memory, induce laziness, and even trigger major psychiatric illnesses (especially among the young. It should be avoided for that reason.

Second, R' Moshe Feinstein wrote a teshuvah on marijuana which is well worth reading. As one of the foremost Orthodox halachic authorities in America for the last several decades, many Jews should consider his ruling binding.

Third, you're right about dark chocolate -- for that reason, in our family we're not allowed to eat it past breakfast!
Upstate NY
August 26, 2014
AWFUL of you..............................
Bringing Heaven down to Earth - is the most amazing book I have, it has helped me through more life challenges than you know, I quote it too Jews and Non-Jews alike - regularly getting awed looks and feel it is truly Judaism distilled and simplified..

But this article by you is a shame....... Not once do you mention Cannabis-Induced-Psychosis and whilst I'm not a Dr. even I feel I meet one new patient a week whose life has been wrecked (or partially damaged) by mental-illness - and in every case a more than qualified Physician has said so. Please don't tell me the link is tenuous - the whole thing is like Tobacco and lung-cancer........... And the long-term effects on the non-susecptible are no good either - selfishness (Jewish ?) Memory-loss, attention-deficit etc etc - How are these Torah attributes, even in a small way ?

When Rabbi D.R.Twerski agrees with you - I'd like to see it.

If you had any true wisdom or humility you'd withdraw this awful unqualified article immediately.
August 26, 2014
My Explanation Of The The Rebbe's Responce
The truth is – as interviewed on MyRebbe – someone asked this question of the Rebbe and he replied that the problem with an artificial high is that it’s artificial. In other words, Judaism and Chassidus in particular desire for you to be happy – now the difference between being happy and high, is that in the former, as it was intellectually motivated – say as the Baal Shem Tov teaches “one should always be happy by seeing the good in everything” – and as the intellect is the part in us that can balance the sometimes conflicting demands in us, hence as the Kabbalistic imperative to balance joy with a touch of misery (as stated in Tanya) therefore, we don’t suffer the major side-effect of addiction, losing all balance in our lives.

In other words, many people not only become addicted to the basically pleasurable chemicals released through endorphin etc. creating natural substances, but can even be addicted to the pleasurable spiritual “nirvana” which according to Kabbalah Chassidus is considered like death (ratzu bli shuv...) for ultimately, our ultimate goal is not in feeling good, but doing good!
Rabbbi Wineberg
August 26, 2014
I am a goy. That must be clear from the start.

In light of the prohibitions against becoming intoxicated in the Book Of Proverbs, I cannot imagine any justification for the use of marijuana.

It is intoxicating. Its use can lead to no good.
Vincent Ettari
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