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Can I smoke marijuana for health reasons?

Weekly Q&A

Can I smoke marijuana for health reasons?
Posted on March 23, 2021  - By Dr. Scott Shiffer

I’ve been advised by my doctor to smoke marijuana for my health issues. He mentioned that it would help me significantly compared to my medication which has higher side effects. As a Christian, my understanding about the matter is to stay far, far away from drugs. What should I do? What does the Bible say about something like this?

About four and a half years ago, my mother passed away from colon cancer. During the last couple of years, she had a lot of struggles and one of the medications that proved to be most helpful for her was Marinol. 

Marinol is a pill that uses a synthetic version of cannabis (found in marijuana) to help patients improve their appetite and manage pain. That being said, I have spent a significant amount of time thinking through how Christians should deal with medication and natural remedies for managing pain.

Most Christians do not think anything of using a Hydrocodone or OxyContin pill. These pain relievers are actually stronger opioids than morphine. In reality, even prescription medications can become very addictive if not used properly. In fact, addiction to pharmaceutical drugs is often found to be more rampant than addiction to things like cocaine or heroin.

What to consider

I think there are two factors we should keep in mind when determining what kinds of substances to put into our bodies.

First, genetics, mental health disorders, and environmental conditions (peer influence, abuse at home etc) typically determine the likelihood that someone would develop a substance abuse disorder. If these issues would likely have an impact on you, then staying away from powerful drugs — even for medical purposes may be a good choice.

Second, as Christians, we need to realise that God created plants and gave us skills in learning how to use them for our own benefit. He also created humans and gave them minds that He expects us to use to help humanity. 

Some great minds have utilised chemistry to find ways to help people medically. God allows people to create medicines to aid people in their struggles. He also gives us wisdom in how to use natural plants and other things in our world to create remedies as well. 

God created plants and gave us skills in learning how to use them for our own benefit

Unfortunately, many things in this world are no longer used properly because of the Fall. Everything is corrupted and things that are meant to help can now also be used to harm.

Scripture does not condemn the use of marijuana or any other medication specifically, but it does discuss using some natural medicines such as leaves for healing (Ezekiel 47:12), using medicine made from fig fruits (Isaiah 38:21), and using oils for medicine (James 5:14).

Some also cite Galatians 5:19 as an argument against using pharmaceutical medicines. However, the Greek word in question here is used contextually to refer to a person who uses spell-casting and not to pharmaceutical drugs. 

A matter of conscience

I believe that God expects us to use natural remedies and lab-created medicines for healing. Our God is the Great Physician, and He allows medicines to help ease our pain. 

Along with using medicines though, we must be responsible. We should not use medicines when they are not needed, and we should not overindulge in medicines to the point where their healing effects become more harmful than helpful.

If your doctor believes that smoking medical marijuana would be beneficial to you (and perhaps more beneficial than other prescribed medications), I believe that is an acceptable use. If your conscience will not allow you to move to that point, I recommend asking if you could try another form of medication first to see if it provides the needed relief. Using it for its intended purpose to heal is not wrong, especially if done in accordance with medical professionals.

Dr. Scott Shiffer

About Dr. Scott Shiffer

Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Faith and Culture Now, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations, including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for many years. Scott is married and has four children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges every day.



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