What Does the Bible Have to Say about Weed?
Marijuana. Pot. Weed. Cannabis. Whatever you might call it, it’s cited as the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States, though a growing number of states are legalizing it for medical and recreational purposes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 48.2 million people were using weed in 2019, and a 2022 confidential Gallup reports 16 percent of Americans say they smoke weed.
Some people claim it’s harmless, or at least far less harmful than drinking alcohol or taking chemically produced medications for certain ailments. Others say it’s a mind-altering, delusion-inducing gateway drug whose use leads to other, far worse addictions.
But what does the Bible say about weed?
While the Bible doesn’t specifically mention weed, marijuana, or other drugs, God’s word does have plenty to say about the importance of staying in one’s right and sober mind — particularly as the devil is on the prowl.
What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Weed’?
Weed is among the more popular slang terms used for marijuana, or cannabis. Other terms include pot, herb, ganja, grass, and more. Some think the term “weed” is derived from the word locoweed, a type of plant that grows in the western United States that is very harmful to animals. Others think the term simply described what the substance looks like. Essentially, weed is derived from the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis sativa, or hemp, plant. People take the dried greenish-gray tops of the plant and use them for mind-altering effects, whether for recreational or medical purposes.
Weed can be smoked by hand-rolling it into cigarettes or placing it into blunts (cigars) or in bongs (pipes). It can also be infused into drinks such as teas or mixed or baked into cookies, cakes, brownies, or other items. Some people also use vaporizers with weed, also called “vaping.”
People have used weed for many years for recreational purposes — that is, to “get high.” Weed is a psychoactive drug, meaning it alters the mind. The main ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), unleashes the chemical dopamine and stimulates the part of your brain that responds to pleasure. Many people enjoy the feeling it produces and use it to feel good, or to relieve stress, though it doesn’t produce the same feeling in all people. In some people, weed makes them feel anxious, afraid, or paranoid.
It also evokes physical symptoms, affecting motor skills, distorting your sense of time, heightening your senses, or impairing or lowering your inhibitions or judgment.
Other people use weed for medical purposes. Some research suggests weed can reduce inflammation, relieve pain, minimize nausea and vomiting, relax tight muscles, stimulate appetite, reduce anxiety, and possibly kill cancer cells or slow tumor growth. Some report reduction in seizures. People with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma are among those who cite weed as helpful in alleviating their symptoms.
Weed is not legal everywhere. In the United States, some states (22 as of this writing) have legalized recreational use, while medical use is legal in most states (except seven as of this writing). A handful of other nations, including the Netherlands, Canada, South Africa, and Mexico, also have legalized its use.
What Does the Bible Say about Weed?
The Bible doesn’t specifically mention marijuana, cannabis, THC, or any other element related to weed, nor does it mention any other drugs. But it has plenty to say about the importance of keeping a sober mind, as well as avoiding drunkenness.
Therefore, it is helpful to look at what the Bible says about mind-altering substances or situations to discern what God is saying about drug use today. Indeed, the Bible has plenty to say about sobriety and intoxication.
While weed and wine are different substances, both do produce intoxicating effects. But although it is possible for a person to have a glass of wine without intoxication, with weed, it is not necessarily the same. According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, a person who smokes weed typically feels the effects almost immediately, and they generally last from one to three hours. This is because the THC and other chemicals in the plant quickly pass from the lungs into the bloodstream and then the brain. Those who eat weed feel the effects slightly later — 30 to 60 minutes — because the chemicals first pass through the digestive system. Effects vary depending on the quantity, quality, and method of consumption.
Alcohol is mentioned frequently in the Old and New Testaments, as are numerous calls to remain sober and avoid drunkenness. So we can read much from the Bible’s warnings against drunkenness to guide us as Christians regarding weed and other mind-altering substances.
Here are a few Bible passages that specifically address this:
Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
Proverbs 23:19-21: “Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”
Galatians 5:19-21: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
1 Corinthians 5:11: “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”
Proverbs 20:1: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
Is Using Weed a Sin?
While the Bible does not specifically prohibit the consumption of alcohol or drugs, including weed, it warns against the abuse of them. And because of the rapid and euphoric effects of weed, this potential for abuse is higher. For it’s not necessarily the substance that is the issue but, rather, the potential harm it can do to a person, or the potential to lead a person astray.
You might live in a place where it is legal to use weed. But you might still refrain because you want to avoid opening yourself up to a mind-altering state that can let in evil, or put you closer to the edge of a dangerous precipice.
The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ — but I will not be mastered by anything.”
Some say that using weed in moderation is fine. After all, Jesus drank wine, and the apostle Paul urged his mentee Timothy to drink a little wine to help with his stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). Weed and wine, they theorize, are similar.
But the wine of that day wouldn’t have had a high alcoholic content, and Jesus (being sin-free) certainly did not get drunk. Studies indicate the effects of weed are more potent, so weed and wine are not necessarily one and the same.
Still, no verses say drinking alcohol, or smoking weed, or anything else of that nature is a sin — as long as it doesn’t lead to drunkenness or a similar altered state of mind.
The bottom line is that whatever substance is at hand, God doesn’t want us to be led astray through the altering of our minds.
What Should Christians Consider before Using Weed?
If you are considering using weed, whether for medical or recreational purposes, the most important thing you should do is pray about it. Then consider whether using it will induce a mind-altering state that could cause a wall or problem between you and the Lord.
In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said our most important priority should be to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Would your use of weed interfere with this? Would it cloud your judgment or take your focus off Him?
Secondly, consider whether it could affect your judgment or ability to serve the Lord in a negative way. Proverbs 4:2 urges, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” And Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”
Third, consider the reason why you might wish to use weed. For instance, if it is for a painful situation, is the pain something God is using to help or teach you in some way? Sometimes it’s perfectly good and well to avoid pain — that is not a sin. But other times, the pain is a lesson in and of itself.
In Matthew 27:34, the Bible shares how at his crucifixion, Jesus was offered wine to drink, mixed with gall, but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. Gall and wine together is thought to have produced a narcotic, which would have dulled his senses and eased some of the pain. Some scholars believe he refused the wine to fully experience the agony of the cross, as his crucifixion was intended to atone for the sins of humanity, and he chose to bear it in full.
It can be confusing when some of the questions we have about modern-day life aren’t specifically addressed in the Bible. But if we read with the Spirit in our heart, we can understand what God is telling us. For instance, the word “Internet” or “computer” is nowhere in the Bible, but many of us certainly understand that the rules of in-person public engagement apply to online engagement, even if Jesus said nothing about chat rooms or Instagram feeds.
Consider this as you consider what the Bible reveals about weed.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Olena Ruban
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.