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Not taking into account Dina D'malchusa, what are the Halachic problems with smoking marijuana? Is it allowed?

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Inspired by zaq's comment –  Shmuel Brin Oct 10 '11 at 2:19
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the title question and the actual question are in direct opposite directions, someone answering no might mean not allowed or no halachic problems –  Avraham Oct 14 '11 at 12:17
    
Related: Is one allowed to smoke (cigarettes)? –  Shmuel Jan 2 '12 at 4:49
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Guys do you guys know that marijuana is saver than alcohol and drinking alcohol is okay? I mean how come so many people say no? I mean cocaine is one thing. Ganja is not even addictive. Torah doesn't prohibit drinking alcohol. So why would it prohibit smoking ganja, marijuana, and ecstasy, which are all much saver. What about when it's legal? –  Jim Thio Feb 28 '12 at 15:02

7 Answers 7

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Igros Moshe has a tshuva regarding smoking Marijuana. He forbids it for several reasons:

  1. It damages the body. Moreover, even if people claim that people are not harmed, their intellect is harmed, which is a worse damage than damaging the body. It prevents one from understanding Torah, Davening, and keeping mitzvos properly.
  2. One gives himself extra cravings, worse than those for food and drink. This is a sin which we learn from the "Rebellious son", which is punished for his cravings for food, even though the food is one hundred percent kosher. All the more so it is forbidden to create within himself a new craving for something that he naturally has no desire and no need. Moreover, just like the reason that we execute a "Rebellious son" (even though he didn't do any sin worthy of execution) is because we see that he will come to robbing the population, so too drug use is a step towards robbery.
  3. It is a lack of honoring one's parents, who are no doubt upset by the son's actions.
  4. Kdoshim Tiyhe (be holy) is a positive commandment. According to the Ramban, this commandment means not to be "disgusting with the Torah's permission".

He finishes off that it is a clear-cut prohibition.

R' Adin Even-Yisrael (Steinsaltz) wrote what the Lubavitcher Rebbe told him in a private audience about drugs. He said that the whole point of the Torah is for one to be a master over himself. Drugs (as well as other addictive and psychoactive substances) make themselves the master over him.

Even though one could say that bread is also psychoactive, yet drugs are worse, as they are addictive. Once one is addicted, it's almost impossible to quit.

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Since R. Moshe wrote his tshuva, the scientific community has established that smoking marijuana is less dangerous to the body (and others) than drinking and is not addictive. Furthermore societal attitudes have changed significantly -- we've elected a number of Presidents who have openly admitted to using it. So if the "metzius" has changed, I have a hard time understanding the relevance of his tshuva. Are there any more recent tshuvot on the topic? –  Curiouser Oct 10 '11 at 4:04
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@szmear, you might as well (and with about equal validity) say, "Moses did indeed worship idols... The proof is to be found throughout the archeology of the ancient world" - since, after all, every other known human society of the time did so. But of course that proves nothing; we are a unique nation, עם לבדד ישכון ובגוים לא יתחשב, and what other "sages in history" did is no proof whatsoever about what ours did (or what we should do). –  Alex Jan 2 '12 at 2:28
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@szmear, you know, it is particularly incorrect to claim that about Moshe Rabbeinu, he of whom Rambam (Hil. Yesodei Hatorah 1:10, 7:6) makes a point of stressing that his prophecy consisted of the ultimate intellectual knowledge of Hashem that a human being is capable of reaching - i.e., he used his mind and nothing else. But in a lesser sense too, the same is true of our other prophets. You will search in vain throughout Jewish literature - long before the 20th century - for any statement that prophecy requires the consumption of any substance. –  Alex Jan 2 '12 at 3:05
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@szmear, your arguments are speculative at best (including how much organic chemistry Alex knows). Also, please see the FAQ's concerning etiquette. You should not call someone a fool here. –  YDK Jan 2 '12 at 6:04
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Regarding the actual answer here, I am confused by the section about addiction. Wine is addictive, and can make you drunk. Marijuana itself is not addictive. (Though acting stupid and carefree is) –  avi Jan 2 '12 at 11:10

Reb Moshe answers NO you may not smoke marijuana Here are the list of his reasons:

Firstly like the Ben Sorer Umoreh the rebellious son. A Ben Sorer Umoreh steals meat and wine and scarfs it down. He is addicted to physical pleasures, he will come to do anything to support his habit robbing and killing too. In order to prevent this we kill him before it happens. Drugs go under the same spectrum, that is the people who use the drugs usually become strongly addicted and to maintain their habit might come to the same unethical behaviors so plainly the reasoning would make marijuana use non Hallachic.

Second, drugs are unhealthy like regular smoking so "Nishmartem Linafshsechem".

A third thing Reb Moshe brings that drugs cause a lack of concentration, thereby ruining one Concentration by Teffilah and ability to learn Torah.

Fourth most parents disagree with the behavior, so drug use violates the commandment to "Honor ones father and mother."

Fifth the Torah says Kedoshim Tihiyu this means there should be a degree of separation from excessive pleasures. Drugs definitely fall under this prohibition so all these reasons leads Reb Moshe to the conclusion that marijuana use is against Halacha.

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I assume you mean "yes", not "no"? –  msh210 Oct 10 '11 at 3:53
    
@msh: the polarities of the question title and the question body are reversed. :) –  Alex Oct 10 '11 at 3:55
    
@Alex, ah, true, I hadn't noticed the title. –  msh210 Oct 10 '11 at 3:58

Many US states, Canada, Israel, and other countries worldwide, allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

For a detailed list of several nations' cannabis policies, including for medical use, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_cannabis

The benefits of marijuana for people with a range of chronic (pun intended) illnesses are numerous: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/05/health/cbsdoc/main4844665.shtml

Furthermore, part of R' Moshe Feinstein's answer is predicated on family being ashamed of you for smoking. If a person (G-d forbid) had cancer, or any other serious illness, and smoking marijuana helped ease their suffering, regain appetite, and contribute to their recovery - no one would be ashamed.

Based on all of this, and absent any specific prohibition in Torah, I would say that, according to halacha, one may smoke marijuana for medicinal reasons, in a jurisdiction where it is legal to do so.

In a jurisdiction where even recreational marijuana use is legal (or at least decriminalized) - it seems to me that the rest of R' Feinstein's answer would apply to any intoxicating and/or inebriating substance.

So, to whatever extent one is allowed to consume hard liquor in halacha, one ought to be able to consume marijuana - again, IF you are in a jurisdiction that allows it.

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@szmear I've seen too many people who fry their brains and destroy their lives from chronic use of chronic. However, to mollify those who want to play word games, in their quest to legitimize their self-destruction, bitul torah, and bad midos (laziness), I have emended my answer to reflect my original intention of the word "intoxicating". –  user1095 Jan 2 '12 at 8:10
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@szmear if marijuana does absolutely nothing, then why smoke it? And if it does something through inhalation, then defining it as toxic or not is completely subjective. –  avi Jan 2 '12 at 8:30
    
@avi, Will, note that szmear has deleted his or her comment, so you might wish to do the same (or not. As you wish). –  msh210 Jan 2 '12 at 16:15
    
@msh210 Thanks for the heads up. I think I'll keep it there. Any future reader will infer from my response what his original comment was. –  user1095 Jan 2 '12 at 16:27

It seems that HaRav Musafi Shelit"a (Q&A 57,505) says that it isn't Asur, rather just not a proper thing to do.

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Yosef separately asked if you could quote the teshuva. I can't convert a question to a comment on a different question, hence this clumsy linking. –  Monica Cellio Jul 5 '13 at 4:35

Not a drug

First of all, we are not arguing about a drug. It was given that name by modern society. Is a plant made by G-d to be a food for us:

כט וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי לָכֶם אֶת-כָּל-עֵשֶׂב זֹרֵעַ זֶרַע אֲשֶׁר עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-הָאָרֶץ, וְאֶת-כָּל-הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר-בּוֹ פְרִי-עֵץ, זֹרֵעַ זָרַע: לָכֶם יִהְיֶה, לְאָכְלָה. ל וּלְכָל-חַיַּת הָאָרֶץ וּלְכָל-עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּלְכֹל רוֹמֵשׂ עַל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-בּוֹ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה, אֶת-כָּל-יֶרֶק עֵשֶׂב, לְאָכְלָה; וַיְהִי-כֵן. לא וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה, וְהִנֵּה-טוֹב מְאֹד; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי. {פ}

And God said: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed — to you it shall be for food; and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is a living soul, [I have given] every green herb for food.’ And it was so. And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Cravings

Another point (and this is why I agree with those who ask for newer sources): Giving yourself extra cravings, if it is not permitted when it comes to marijuana, is also not permitted when it comes to alcohol, tobacco, cholesterol, candies, soda, etc. More people die due to the things I just mentioned than due to marijuana. Following this logic, nobody should ever eat a large greasy meal and soda and, if someone does, he is going brutally against the Torah. Giving candies to children would also be wrong.

Laziness

Others say that marijuana makes people lazy. There are many kinds of marijuana. There are also many kinds of people. Some kinds of marijuana make some people lazier. But some kinds make some people less angry. And is not necessary to talk about how harmful anger is:

As our Rabbis said (Nedarim 22a): Whoever flares up in anger is subject to the discipline of Gehinnom as it is says in (Koheles 12:10), “Cast out anger from your heart, and [by doing this] remove evil from your flesh.” Evil here means Gehinnom, as we read (Mishlei 16:4): “...and the wicked are destined for the day of evil.” (Aggeret HaRamban)

If you know that marijuana makes you uncontrollably lazy, you should stop using it, just as you would if you got uncontrollable anxiety from drinking coffee, because we should avoid the yetzer and his traps.

Nothing is perfect. You always will have a yetzer for something in your life but “eize hu gibor, hakovesh et itzro” (avot). Also, there are many different kinds of marijuana. One can make you lazier; another can make you creative, happy, euphoric, etc.

Health

If the smoke is the problem, you can always include marijuana in cooking instead. If the marijuana itself is the problem, a medical opinion would be appropriate.

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Are you saying cinnamon can't be a spice because it's a plant? Because that logic is sorely lacking. –  Double AA Nov 19 '12 at 23:44
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Moreover, your reducito ad absurdum argument is actually absurd if you are willing to accept a non-rigorously defined acceptable level of natural cravings. Halacha is full of these kinds of standards. –  Double AA Nov 19 '12 at 23:56
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Finally, your claim that it helps prevent other greater evils is in no way a proof of its permissability, see for example judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18398/759 –  Double AA Nov 19 '12 at 23:58
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And I'm saying that marijuana is a plant and it is also a drug. One does not preclude the other. || It is not a natural crave in any society that hasn't experienced it. And either way, don't the values of our Torah society have any merit? You're missing the whole point of my non-rigorous definition. || I don't understand what you are saying, but whether or not it prevents anger does not prove if it is permissible or not. –  Double AA Nov 20 '12 at 0:31
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You're missing the whole point! I don't have to rank everything linearly and rigorously because it is non-rigorous. If you can't accept such a concept then you won't like my argument, and you will probably have issues with many other things in halacha as well. –  Double AA Nov 20 '12 at 17:52

It is Asur. One can bring many sources for this Issur. I would go as far to say that is an Issur Hamur MeDorayta. The Gemara in Erubin basically says that one is forbidden from getting drunk in public because of Hilul Hashem.

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It is Asur according to Rabbi Feinstein. I hope that makes more sense. –  Rabbi Gabriel Oct 19 '11 at 15:26
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That was mentioned in two previous answers. –  Isaac Moses Oct 19 '11 at 19:18
    
is easy to say not bringing fonts... And if the use is private? –  juanora Jul 22 at 22:08

If Marijuana allows you to open up your mind to ideas and perceptions in ways that you can't accomplish consciously and soberly, imagine how many new views and perspectives we will have toward G-d, religion, Torah, Talmud, etc. Just a thought.

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I disagree that the physiological effect of marijuana is most accurately typified as an "intoxication" (especially given the presence of cannabinoid receptors in the human brain) but I otherwise highly agree with the basic premise of your comment. –  user1139 Dec 31 '11 at 7:21
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I don't see how this is a proof that marijuana is allowed. There can be many benefits to a variety of items that are forbidden. Perhaps you should bring a source for your assertion. –  HodofHod Jan 1 '12 at 17:38
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@szmear: R. Moshe Feinstein's teshuvah is part of Torah too. –  Alex Jan 2 '12 at 2:30
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@szmear: You asked "where it says in [T]orah that marijuana is forbidden." You have been given a source that says just that. You disagree? Fine, it's a free country. But your opinion carries very little weight; find a halachic authority who agrees with your point, and we'll have something to discuss. –  Alex Jan 2 '12 at 3:07
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It is assur min hatorah to be stupid. And Marjiuna makes you stupid, wheather you use it or just try to convince other people that its perfectly good. –  avi Jan 2 '12 at 8:33

protected by Shmuel Brin Jan 1 '12 at 3:59

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