Medical marijuana is permitted, but recreational use prevents us from being our best selves.
In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), essentially declaring a war on drugs, including marijuana. The American position and American law have come a long way since then. Last year, the US House of Representatives passed legislation to remove cannabis (marijuana) from the CSA. Currently, legislation is being considered to decriminalize marijuana and introduce a sales tax similar to alcohol.
Eighteen countries have currently legalized the recreational use of marijuana and 36 countries have approved it for medical use. The legal cannabis market is expected to reach over $40 billion in the United States by 2026.
The legal cannabis market is expected to reach over $40 billion in the United States by 2026.
With American public opinion and law increasingly embracing marijuana use, the question is, what does Judaism say?
In Jewish law, there is a general requirement to observe the civil laws of the land in which one lives when they do not conflict with Jewish law.1 Therefore, in addition to what Judaism says about marijuana, Jewish law demands obedience to the authority of civil law. If possession or use of marijuana is illegal, that is against Jewish law as well.
Does this mean that if it is legal, it is also permissible according to Jewish law and Jewish values?
It is important to distinguish between recreational and medical marijuana use. Talmud2 understood from the Hebrew phrase “v’rapoh yerapeihAnd3 It must provide for a cure “for which a person has a license to treat, even though the healing process in itself can violate other values such as not causing someone to bleed. What about treating pain even if there is no benefit to healing? May one violate Other values or taboos, just to ease the pain?
Rabbi Abraham Bornstein4 (1838-1910) establishes that relief from treatment applies not only to recovery, but also to pain management, even if there is no therapeutic benefit.
Based on this ruling, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach5 (1910-1995) and others concluded that the use of narcotic drugs, such as morphine, is permissible, even for terminally ill patients if necessary to relieve pain. Although morphine affects breathing and can precipitate death, it is allowed for the terminally ill because diminishing pain is a form of healing.
The extension of this ruling, Rabbi Yitzhak Zilberstein,6 A contemporary authority, she writes that despite the general negative approach to marijuana use, it can be used for medicinal purposes and for pain management, not unlike narcotics or pain relievers.
The Torah obligates us to live a healthy life and to protect our well-being in general. Talmud7 Derived from the verse,”Finchmartam Maud l’nafshoseichem, Be very careful to protect your soul, ”8 Mandate to be responsible in our lives. Does using marijuana violate your responsibility to live a healthy life?
Talmud9 He tells us that Raff, who lived in the second century, told his son Shea, “Don’t take any drugs.” Rashi explains that Raff was worried that the person would enjoy the “ecstasy” and would yearn to experience it over and over again. Why is this a problem? How is getting high and happy a violation of living healthy?
When we indulge in substances that cloud our judgment or threaten our consciousness, when we lose control and become undisciplined, we weaken our divine spirit.
Humans consist of two spirits, our animal spirit and our godly spirit. The animal spirit urges us to act impulsively and to indulge our impulses without discrimination. We describe someone who is out of control as behaving like an animal and someone who stuffs their face as eating like a pig. We are also endowed with a godly spirit and each of us is created in the image of God. The pious spirit is capable of discipline and self-control. It enables us to make choices consciously and enables us to regulate our behavior.
When we indulge in substances that cloud our judgment or threaten our consciousness, when we lose control and become undisciplined, we weaken our divine spirit, essentially surrendering our humanity. We are meant to live in the present, fully engaged and immersed in the present, aware of our surroundings, involved with our environment, responsible for our behavior and able to remember what we did and what happened around us. The use of substances, whether drugs or alcohol to escape our reality, to numb ourselves to pain, to feel heightened pleasure, or simply for amusement is submission to our essential selves, choosing an animal impulse over our divine spirit.
While drunkenness or ecstasy can lead to fleeting and temporary happiness, it is fake and short-lived.
Holiness requires awareness, alertness, and self-control. For this reason, the Torah10 Drinking wine is forbidden in the Temple, the holiest building, in the holiest place on earth. While drunkenness or ecstasy can lead to fleeting and temporary happiness, it is fake and short-lived. Rambam writes: “He who gets drunk is sinful and disgraceful and loses his wisdom. If he gets drunk before others, he defiles the name of God.”
Some argue that getting high or drunk actually enables religious growth and spiritual penetration by removing inhibitions and relieving stress, but this is wrong. Authentic, real, and lasting spiritual growth results from engaging our hearts, minds, and spirits in a conscious state, not by running away from them.
It’s important to note that while the research comparing the risks and side effects of alcohol and marijuana remains mixed, there is a fundamental difference between them. On Jewish occasions, on holidays and during life cycle events, wine is used in development To honor and honor this occasion. While Judaism frowns upon drunkenness, at the same time it involves raising a glass of wine to honor a special occasion. Wine can be enjoyed in moderation and consumed without being intoxicating while marijuana is an instrument of euphoria with some research arguing that it is a gateway drug.
Jewish law believes that although medical marijuana is permitted, its recreational use prevents us from being our best selves and is forbidden.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, one of the greatest American rabbis of the 20’sNS century, the rules11 Marijuana use is addictive, harmful, and prohibited. According to the National Institute of Health,12 30% of marijuana users have some degree of marijuana use disorder. In addition, search13 It explains that marijuana use kills brain cells and can be harmful to a person’s health and well-being. Marijuana use is associated with decision-making deficits. A person who is ecstatic cannot only observe a mitzvot properly, he or she is more likely to engage in behavior and choices that contravene Jewish law and contravene Jewish values.
Rabbi Feinstein concludes by reminding us that in Judaism we live for holiness, not happiness, and says, “We must do our best to combat this impure and unholy activity of the Jewish people.”
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a contemporary rabbi in Israel, addresses this question and arrives at the same stark conclusion. he is writing14 People who use marijuana become dependent on it and this dependence is detrimental to our ability to live our best. They tend to de-motivate people, affect memory, and inflate confidence in seriously unhealthy ways, he says, all of the assertions backed by research and contrary to a rich and ambitious Jewish life.
As people around the world adopt more lenient laws and views on marijuana use, Jewish law believes that although medical marijuana is permitted, its recreational use prevents us from being our best selves and is prohibited. We must satisfy the urge to “get high” by working hard to develop our spiritual muscles and deepen our connection to the Infinite Source of Creation.
- This is known in the Talmud (Bava Kama 113a) as Dina de Malchosa Dina, the law of the land is the law.
- Bava Kama 85 A
- Suns 21:19
- 453- Ali Awad
- Tecomin 23
- Perachus 32 B
- Divarim 4:15
- Pesachim 113 A
- Vayikra 10: 9
- Igros Moshe 3:35
- Shilas Shlomo 4:264
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