The question of if Christians can smoke weed or not hasn’t traditionally been a gray answer. When it was illegal, it was a black and white answer because it was off-limits to those who are “subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1), but now that recreational marijuana is becoming legal in more states, the question stands if Christians can or can’t smoke weed.
Can Christians smoke weed? The Apostle Paul tells us that all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). If the Christian is smoking weed for the sole purpose of getting high, they should absolutely not participate because it is not possible to smoke marijuana and not violate Paul’s expectation of always being in a position of sober-mindedness (1 Peter 5:8-9). Therefore, it is wisest for Christians to not go down that road. But if they are using marijuana solely for medical purposes, no other resource helps, and the Christian is not getting high from it, I would say it’s not a sin but I would encourage them to use much wisdom and caution ensuring that it is advised by a medical professional.
Cannabis is a plant that was not intended to get man high. Getting high causes a person to be disengaged not only from people, but also from life in general. It can easily become a passive way of “dealing” with issues by disengaging from them rather than seeking counsel from the Lord.
If using marijuana is for the purpose of trying to escape something or trying to find comfort, it becomes an idol because we’re placing comfort in it above comfort in the Lord, and 1 Corinthians 10:14 tells us to flee from idolatry. As followers and righteous heirs of Christ, we need to be seeking the Holy Spirit as our comforter. Most people who smoke marijuana smoke it to escape something when they should be running to the Lord instead.
As The Gospel Coalition says, if the purpose of consuming the marijuana was for nourishment and taste, we would need to eat only an amount that would not cause the intoxicating effect – about 200 mg of marijuana leaves. In theory, then, it could be possible to ingest marijuana with no sinful intentions. But of course, in almost all cases, the recreational use of marijuana is done with the intention of achieving some level of intoxication. And if the intent of the recreational use of marijuana is to achieve some level of intoxication, then it is clearly a sinful motive and action.
As DesiringGod mentions, as Christians, our goal is knowing and experiencing the full and undistorted reality of the glory of God in our resurrected physical bodies (1 Corinthians 15:12–49; Philippians 3:20–21; 1 Corinthians 13:12).
God is glorious beyond measure, and Christians seek to experience the reality of his glory, for the sake of his glory. Sin has distorted our vision and corrupted our world. Ever since sin first entered the world, all of us have been born spiritually dead, unable to discern the true glory of God (Ephesians 2:1–5; Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 4:4).
When we experience the redemptive work of Christ through the Holy Spirit, we are awakened to the reality and beauty of God (2 Corinthians 4:6). But until we see Him face to face, we still see His glory as through a glass dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). As redeemed believers, we are on a journey to knowing Him without obstruction. Therefore, we do not want to distort reality; rather, we aim to know Him as He really is. We want to see things as they really are.
The Christian use of any kind of psychoactive substance should always align with this gospel goal of looking to see things clearer. We do not want our vision of reality distorted.
Liz at ChristianPost.com brings up a great point regarding marijuana use. She says “If you’re a Christian and believe that smoking weed benefits your health or leads you to better experiences with God, I’m not going to point out your error using scripture references, medical studies, or fear-based shaming tactics. However, I ‘d like to propose to you that there is something better. There is more available in your relationship with Christ and his Kingdom than you ever dreamed.
I believe in our day and age many are yearning for something more, for a deeper spiritual life. This yearning–for better health, peace of mind, and freedom from illness/affliction–is actually a God given desire. Yet, when God meets you in your brokenness and calls you to deeper waters, deciding that you can use a substance to jimmy-rig your mind and body is only a recipe for idolatry.
If you’re longing for something more, then perhaps the question for you is not Is it permissible and beneficial to smoke weed? Rather the question should be Is this longing (for contentment, peace, physical wellness, and more) only satisfied by Christ? Is there more available in my relationship with Jesus than my previous experiences would dictate? My personal experience says the answer is YES.”
Questions to Ask Yourself
It’s important to ask yourself questions about why, as a Christian, smoking weed is something you want to participate. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What are the benefits of marijuana that could help me get closer to the Lord?
- It is beneficial?
- Am I using it to glorify God?
- Is this holy and honoring to the Lord?
- Is this pleasing to the Lord?
- Is it wise?
- Is it best?
- Is it ideal?
- What is the motivation of the heart?
- Why do I want to smoke it?
What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible doesn’t provide a black or white answer regarding marijuana. It doesn’t mention many modern sins specifically by name, as these names were created long after the Bible was written, but there are also no recorded events that describe a person smoking pot directly. There are priests who lit incense, but that is a different thing altogether, and they weren’t smoking them.
The Bible doesn’t explicitly call marijuana sinful, but the better question to ask is not “Is this sinful?” but “Is this wise?” If you are genuinely interested in doing God’s will and being in an intimate relationship with Him, smoking marijuana should not even be a consideration of yours.
Galatians 5:19 says “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
As Revelation.co says, the word sorcery above was highlighted in this verse because “sorcerers” in the olden times used to use herbal and odd concoctions to induce drug highs. In fact, the word used in the Bible for “sorcery” is pharmakeia, which is where we get our modern word “pharmacy.”
Just based on those verses alone (and there are other similar verses to be found), it becomes quite clear that smoking pot, being a drunk, or doing any behavior which causes a person to become “high” for recreational purposes is wrong, probably illegal (depending on where you live), and definitely a sin.
As DesiringGod says, recreational cannabis distorts reality and numbs people to the ability to experience life as it truly is. Even a relatively small amount of THC puts the infrequent user into a fog. A larger amount can potentially cause paranoia.
There is a reason that marijuana has long been associated with the couch, a bag of chips, and a television remote. Put another way, marijuana has never been associated with engaged parenting. Regular marijuana use causes disengagement, dulling individuals into a long-term, slow, and subtle numbness. If you ask almost anyone who has formerly used cannabis on a regular basis, he will speak about this phenomenon. To confirm this testimony, studies have shown a high correlation between regular cannabis use and the clinical diagnosis of Amotivational Syndrome.
Statistics About Marijuana
As DrugAbuse.gov states, Marijuana is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the United States, after alcohol. Its use is widespread among young people. In 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults used marijuana in the past year. According to the Monitoring the Future survey, rates of past-year marijuana use among middle and high school students have remained steady, but the number of teens in 8th and 10th grades who say they use it daily has increased. With the growing popularity of vaping devices, teens have started vaping THC (the ingredient in marijuana that produces the high), with nearly 4% of 12th graders saying they vape THC daily. In addition, the number of young people who believe regular marijuana use is risky is decreasing.
- Based on current standings, tax revenue from marijuana will increase by 1.19 billion USD from 2017 to 2020.
- California rules from both legal and illegal marijuana amassing to a total of 5.6 billion USD.
- Nevada saw an increase in legal cannabis of up to 131% in 2018.
- Washington had the largest growth rate of legal cannabis by up to 242% as of 2015.
- According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, a large percentage of those arrested for crimes test positive for marijuana. Nationwide, 40% of adult males tested positive at the time of their arrest.
- Of adults 26 or older who used marijuana before age 15, 62% went on to use cocaine at some point in their lives; 9% went on to use heroin at least once; and 54% made some nonmedical use of mind-altering prescription drugs.
- Next to alcohol, marijuana is the second most frequently found substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal automobile accidents.
- People who use marijuana prior to the age of 12 are twice as likely to experience a serious mental illness compared to those who first use marijuana at age 18 or older.
- Marijuana accounts for 17 percent of admissions to treatment facilities in the United States, second only to opiates among illicit substances.
- Approximately 4.0 million people aged 12 or older in 2016 had a marijuana use disorder in the past year, which represents 1.5 percent of people aged 12 or older.
- As of 2019, eleven states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana for people over 21 years old.
- 48% of Americans have reported using marijuana in their lifetime
Physical Effects of Marijuana
Drugabuse.gov gives us a list of a few physical effects of marijuana:
Breathing problems. Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and people who smoke marijuana frequently can have the same breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco. These problems include daily cough and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and a higher risk of lung infections. Researchers so far haven’t found a higher risk for lung cancer in people who smoke marijuana.
Problems with child development during and after pregnancy. Marijuana use during pregnancy is linked to lower birth weight and increased risk of both brain and behavioral problems in babies. If a pregnant woman uses marijuana, the drug may affect certain developing parts of the fetus’s brain. Children exposed to marijuana in the womb have an increased risk of problems with attention, memory, and problem-solving compared to unexposed children. Some research also suggests that moderate amounts of THC are excreted into the breastmilk of nursing mothers.
Intense nausea and vomiting. Regular, long-term marijuana use can lead to some people to develop Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. This causes users to experience regular cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, sometimes requiring emergency medical attention.
Increased heart rate. Marijuana raises the heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking. This effect may increase the chance of a heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be at higher risk.
Here are a few more physical and psychological effects given to us by Healthline:
Impaired judgment. THC alters the way you process information, so your judgment may be impaired.
Memory problems. THC changes how information is processed in a part of your brain called the hippocampus. It can affect your ability to form fresh memories.
Bronchitis. Frequent smoking can irritate your bronchial passages and increase your risk of bronchitis.
Increased lung cancer risk. Smoking marijuana may lead to long-term lung problems, such as cancer.
Marijuana use has also been linked to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, temporary hallucinations, temporary paranoia, and worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.
No matter how you use marijuana, the drug can cause immediate and long-term effects, such as changes in perception and increased heart rate. Over time, smoking marijuana may cause chronic cough and other health issues.
The effects of marijuana on the body are often immediate. Longer-term effects may depend on how you take it, how much you use, and how often you use it. The exact effects are hard to determine because marijuana has been illegal in the U.S., making studies difficult and expensive to conduct.
Scriptures to Consider
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” -1 Corinthians 5:11
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.” – Titus 3:1
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18
“Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:21
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12;2
“Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” – James 4:4
The one New Testament theme that we can see is that God takes joy in self control, and He wants us to be like Him. One can argue that if someone smokes marijuana to get high, they are not efficiently practicing self control.
Paul explicitly calls drunkenness a sin, but not alcohol itself. Smoking marijuana is similar, but the major difference is someone can have a couple drinks without being drunk, but it is not possible to smoke marijuana without it impacting your motor functions and inhibiting the parts of your brain that help you be self controlled. So it is possible to drink a beer and not lose self control, but it’s not possible to smoke a blunt and not lose some element of self control. If one hit of marijuana makes you high even in the slightest, there’s no way to smoke it and still obey the Bible’s commands against drunkenness.
So What About CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical that comes from cannabis plants and is found in marijuana. Until recently, CBD oil contained tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the most active ingredient in marijuana which creates a “high” in its users. Now, most CBD oils extract THC so it doesn’t contain much, if any. So knowing this information, is it okay for Christians to use?
The CBD is the oil that people use to help with various medicinal purposes. People use it for anti-inflammatory purposes, for anxiety, for a reduction in epileptic seizures, an increase in pain relief, for acne, insomnia, and Alzheimer’s. CBD oil works these benefits without the mind-altering symptoms that accompany THC. Also, according to a World Health Organization report, CBD does not produce addictive effects that are common in abused drugs. “In particular, unlike other drugs of abuse, it does not activate the mesolimbic dopamine (reward) pathway in the brain or potentiate the effect of rewarding electrical stimulation.” This means those who use it won’t get addicted to it.
Christianity.com gives us insight on what the Bible might have to say about CBD oil. They say “The Bible doesn’t have anything specific to say about CBD because its writers would not have encountered this. Although CBD didn’t really come into existence as its own product until 1963, the Bible might have a thing or two to say about what Christians should do when we encounter gray areas.
We should, of course, avoid abusing any substance that can affect our state of mind (Ephesians 5:18). Anything that impairs our judgment can compromise our conscience and allow for spiritually poor decisions. And, considering CBD oil is not regulated, that can allow for certain vendors to slip elements into the products (such as THC), which can affect our judgment.”
I have personally used CBD balm for carpal tunnel in my hands, and after using it just a few times, I’ve experienced major pain relief after trying many other sources for relief. I highly suggest it for anyone who suffers from carpal tunnel or arthritis of any kind, but it’s important to make sure that it has no THC in it.
Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes
In clinical trials, medical marijuana has been shown to be safe and effective in relieving pain, decreasing inflammation, controlling seizures, reducing anxiety and depression, and easing nausea related to chemotherapy.
Smoking marijuana can have some element of medical benefits, however the two overarching things is 1. the medicinal benefits are far less than what people make it out to be, and 2. there are products that will give you the same or better benefits. Just like a glass of red wine is good for your heart, there are other foods or organic grape juice that help the same, if not more. Just like the medicinal properties of wine is a good argument in favor of wine, there are other or better things with the same properties that don’t have the risk of getting drunk.
If the only drug or the best drug is medical marijuana, I won’t say it’s sinful but I will say it’s an extreme situation. Patients do, however, report many benefits of CBD, from relieving insomnia, anxiety, spasticity, and pain to treating potentially life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy.
Other Reasons to Avoid Pot
Here are some more practical reasons to avoid pot.
Some people will argue against this, but a quick search on Google for the phrase “I’m addicted to pot” should bring up ample results and testimonies of real people struggling with this addiction. As drugabuse.gov states, marijuana use can lead to the development of a substance use disorder, a medical illness in which the person is unable to stop using even though it’s causing health and social problems in their life. Severe substance use disorders are also known as addiction. Research suggests that between 9 and 30 percent of those who use marijuana may develop some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.
We’re called to be good stewards of our finances, and pot is incredibly expensive. You’d be surprised how expensive it is to continue using pot, especially if you have a habit of using it regularly.
It Could be Potentially Dangerous
Especially if you don’t know where it’s coming from, pot can be potentially dangerous because it can be unknowingly laced with something. There have been many, many cases of people either dying or suffering from severe brain damage from smoking pot that they didn’t know was laced with a chemical.
If You or Someone You Know Needs Help in Quitting
If you or someone you know needs help in quitting, please seek support from friends, family, and even a local church. If that doesn’t help enough, then please don’t neglect seeing a drug addiction rehab facility. There are so many ways to get help, and you can stop smoking pot. Pot addiction is very real, and it has devastated many people.
The national helpline is a treatment referral routing service. It is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information. The number for the helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).