August 17, 2011 | by

I have always smoked marijuana. I find it to be less harmful then alcohol. I want to know if there is any Jewish law against doing this. I feel the civil laws against this are ridiculous. I know three cancer patients that would have died as much as ten years ago, but smoking pot allowed them to eat and stay strong all through their fight with the cancer.

The Aish Rabbi Replies

Marijuana is forbidden for many reasons:

1) It harms the mind and body. This is a violation of "Ushmartem Et Nafshotaichem" – the Torah commandment to guard one's health (Deut. 4:15). There are medical studies relating to marijuana smoking to infertility and/or birth defects. Even if marijuana does not harm the bodies of certain individuals, it certainly impairs them mentally and leads to faulty understanding, and laziness in Torah and mitzvahs.

2) Smoking marijuana creates a great craving to eat food, even when one isn't hungry. This may lead one to gluttony, which the Torah warns against in the case of the rebellious child. (Deut. 21:18)

3) Smoking marijuana creates other cravings and relaxes one's moral guard, which breaks the commandment of "Don't go after your hearts and eyes," the injunction to keep our physical drives in check.

4) Depending on the situation, one who smokes marijuana may be breaking the commandment to honor your parents. (Exodus 20:12 and Deut. 5:16)

5) Smoking marijuana is in violation of the commandment "Be holy," according to the interpretation of Nachmanides. (Leviticus 19:1)

6) One final issue is that Jewish law enjoins us to obey the laws of the country in which we find ourselves. That is an additional reason why – at least in America – that smoking marijuana would go against the Torah. However, if medical opinion does come out in favor of legalizing its use in certain situations, that would be a factor which would be weighed in possibly allowing it.

(see Rabbi Moshe Feinstein – Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:35)


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