Religious use of Cannabis

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, and the herb yielding seed…

-Genesis 1:11

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
-The United States Constitution

In many different cultures and religions that predate the United States or Christianity, the cannabis plant has been used as a spiritual and religious sacrament. Much like the use of wine in Christianity, cannabis has also been used as part of spiritual rituals and ceremonies. From Hinduism to Rastafarianism to Christianity, many cultures and religions have adopted this plant.

By Rich Michaels

Hindus have used cannabis in religious ceremonies as early as 1000 BCE. The plant has been consumed in a ritual observing the goddess Shiva. Also, during the festival of Holi, the plant is consumed in a religious drink called bhang. According to the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report: “there is abundant evidence… which shows not only that ganja[cannabis] is offered to the god and consumed by these classes of worshippers, but that these customs are so intimately connected with their worship that they may be considered to form in some sense an integral part of it.” To outlaw the use of cannabis would be to outlaw traditional Hinduism, which is essentially what the U.S. has done.

While Hinduism (one of the worlds largest religions) is the most obvious example of religious cannabis, there are many other religions in the U.S. that have a history with the plant. In Christianity and Judaism, the “holy anointing oil” mentioned by the Old Testament had cannabis as one of the main ingredients. The more modern religion of Rastafarianism (recognized by the Supreme Court as a religion) is quite popular among youth and african-american culture. Bob Marley, a famous supporter of Rastafarianism explained cannabis as a symbol of religious freedom in his popular quote “The more man smoke herb, the more babylon fall.” Babylon is seen as an oppressive government that limits religious freedom… in other words, the exact government that the Founding Fathers did not want to make.

Even more recently has been the emergence of an entirely new religious philosophy: cantheism. Cantheism is a word that signifies any and all attitudes towards the cannabis plant as a religious experience. While not technically a religion itself, it is a philosophy that examines the inherent religious nature of man’s interaction with the cannabis plant. The current legal argument in the U.S. against cannabis is that the laws are constitutional because they prohibit no specific religion from growing or consuming this plant. The fact is, they are openly prohibiting all religions from performing an ancient religious action: interacting with the cannabis plant. My conclusion is that all laws that prohibit cannabis in any way contradict the Constitution of the United States on behalf of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and especially Rastafarianism and Cantheism.

Not only that, but the Constitution itself was written on hemp!

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