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


7 Answers 7


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 that 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 Tih'yoo (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, especially for b'nei y'shiva.

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.

  • 28
    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
    Commented Oct 10, 2011 at 4:04
  • 1
    As noted in another answer, this may depends as well if the person is doing it for medicinal purposes. In that case, much of the tshuva may well be irrelevant.
    – nagah
    Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 7:34
  • According to this article, at least 30% of Marijuana users get withdrawal symptoms, and 9% actually get addicted. According to this article, 8.3% of Americans suffer from alcohol abuse. Decide for yourselves what it means. drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/… & ncadd.org/about-addiction/alcohol/facts-about-alcohol
    – Rafael
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 2:40
  • could you elaborate on "especially for b'nei y'shiva"? If something is forbidden why is it more so forbidden to someone in yeshiva?
    – Dude
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 14:43
  • 1
    @Dude I think his language was "may God save us from this scourge, especially our yeshiva boys."
    – Shalom
    Commented Feb 26 at 21:10

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.

  • How is alcohol different? Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 1:40
  • 1
    With the occasional exception of the parent part, every one of these reasons is totally inaccurate.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 4:33

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.


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.

  • 1
    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. Commented Jul 5, 2013 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.


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.


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.


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.

  • 3
    Are you saying cinnamon can't be a spice because it's a plant? Because that logic is sorely lacking.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 23:44
  • 3
    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
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 23:56
  • 3
    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
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 23:58
  • 2
    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
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 0:31
  • 3
    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
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 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.

  • 2
    It is Asur according to Rabbi Feinstein. I hope that makes more sense. Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 15:26
  • 6
    That was mentioned in two previous answers.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 19:18
  • is easy to say not bringing fonts... And if the use is private?
    – juanora
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 22:08
  • 2
    The Gemara in Erubin basically says that one is forbidden from getting drunk in public - Source, please. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 10:17

Genesis 1:29 is very clear that all seed-bearing herbs and frut-bearing trees are food. Marijuana is a seed-bearing herb so it is most certainly food. It was used as such before this whole stupid prohibition.

Please note that there is a huge difference between organic drugs and alcohol. Alcohol affects judgement, organic drugs dont. This is why God killed 2 sons of Aaron and established of prohibition of drinking in the Tabernacle Tent.

Also, marijuana was most likely one of the components of Holy Incense (nataf).

  • 4
    But what about the laws of preserving one's health? Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 8:30
  • What laws? Also, eating marijuana is not harmful at all. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 8:38
  • This this answer for ideas of various other (Jewish) laws that could forbid it. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 10:16
  • 4
    So too hemlock is food. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 20:08
  • You can get organic alcohol if you want Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 20:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .