Cannabis in Religion – Mixing Both Spirituality’s

Cannabis in religion, hand in hand for eons. With so many states legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis and more and more legalizing the recreational use of the plant, we have come a long way since the days of total prohibition. This opens the doors for more people to explore the spiritual side of cannabis usage.

Sure, many of us know about the Jamaican religion of Rastafarianism that use cannabis in religion. However, Rastafarians are not the only religion to consider the hemp plant sacred. Here are some others:

  • India

Cannabis use for spiritual purposes in southeastern Asia was so profound that a multitude of religious groups incorporated the smoking of cannabis into their practices. Naths, Shaivites, and Devi worshippers use it within their devotional practices.

Cannabis in Religion

The plant is even mentioned in the Indian creation myth as one of the five nectars of the gods. The original myth has the gods churn the Ocean of Milk in their search for Amrita, the elixir of eternal life. One of the results of their efforts was cannabis. 

  • Ancient Greece

Herodotus, who was also known as the “Father of History” tells us that the Scythians and the Assyrians both used cannabis spiritually. Scythians burned the leaves in communal structures for ritualistic and euphoric purposes. Assyrians used cannabis to ward off evil spirits. They also burned the plant during funeral rituals.

  • Japan
cannabis in japan Cannabis in Religion
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Like the Assyrians, people in ancient Japan used cannabis to ward off evil spirits. The spiritual practice of Shintoism believes that evil and purity cannot coexist. They used a gohei, a long stick with undyed hemp fibers, which were burned. By waving the gohei at a person or inside a structure, evil spirits were driven away.

Many of the spiritual uses of cannabis are rooted in the fact that cannabis is a psychoactive agent. To define that in the most basic terms, cannabis alters the way the brain functions.

While most drugs are categorized by their effect: being a stimulant, a depressant, or a hallucinogen, cannabis is often left out of any of these categories? Why? Because cannabis use can result in all three. Cannabis does have some mild hallucinogenic qualities. It can also act as a mild stimulant with effects that can also mimic a depressant, another reason why cannabis in religion has been around for centuries.

The “high” you feel when you smoke, vape, or otherwise consume cannabis can lead to some pretty interesting psychoactive changes:

  • Altered perception – for some, time dilates. For others, time can speed up
  • Changes in mood
  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria

With high doses, some people can experience anxiety and paranoia along with auditory and visual illusions. The hallucinations are not generally present until very high doses are consumed.

Keeping all of this in mind, how you ingest marijuana has a profound effect on how the psychoactive chemicals that lead to these effects are obtained and to what extent.

Scientific research indicates that smoking cannabis through traditional means: a joint, a bowl, etc., really does not deliver as much of the cannabinoids that bear the responsibility of those effects. In fact, as much as 88% of those active cannabinoids are burned up and rendered ineffective. Compare that to just 5% when vaporizing the plant.

However, vaporizing either the dry herb or a concentrate oil or wax delivers more of the active and psychoactive chemicals. The trade-off is that you generally need to smoke less to get the same high versus traditional smoking methods. So vaping is a much better and cheaper method of delivering cannabinoids to your body’s receptors.

The spiritual use of cannabis has been around for millennia. In fact, it is gaining in popularity. Soon everyone with a willingness to explore can use cannabis as a new route to spiritual experiences.

Cannabis in religion, been around for centuries and will continue.

Michael Jacobs – Creative content specialist at