In most people’s minds, religion and cannabis are probably like the wrong ends of two magnets—they just don’t go together.
A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that religious Americans were much less likely to partake in cannabis products of any kind than those who claimed no religion. Among participants who were religiously affiliated, only 54 percent believed cannabis should be legal for recreational and medicinal purposes, compared to a whopping 76 percent of the unaffiliated.
But the times are a-changing. Our public understanding and perception of cannabis has evolved over the past few years. With that, the numerous potential medical benefits of cannabis products have become more clear to many, including some religious organizations.
It may surprise you that over ten religious organizations have released statements condoning the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. We’ve listed a few of their statements below.
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The Episcopal Church
The Episcopalian Church was way ahead of its time in terms of accepting medical marijuana. The Christian denomination first condoned the use of the substance all the way back in 1982, decades before other religious organizations.
At that time, the church released a simple but revolutionary statement: “The Episcopal Church urges the adoption by Congress and all states of statutes providing that the use of marijuana is permitted when deemed appropriate by a licensed medical practitioner.”
Even this early, religious leaders in this denomination recognized the potentially helpful effects of marijuana. They even went as far as advocating for political change, urging political leaders to allow marijuana for medical use under federal law.
This statement was huge for those fighting for legal cannabis use. Released by the largest religious organization on this list, it was an early sign of support from a source that surprised many at the time.
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Union of Reform Judaism
One of the next religious organizations to make a public statement wasn’t a Christian movement, but a Jewish one. The Union of Reform Judaism released an official statement that supported the medicinal use of marijuana.
In the statement, the Union resolved to “support federal legislation and regulation to allow the medicinal use of marijuana.” In fact, they even went further than that. They urged the Food and Drug Administration to expand the scope of their investigation. They wanted New Drug applications for cannabis products as well.
Here, too, the religious organization goes as far as to suggest political action. They state that necessary changes need to be made in “local, state, and federal law to permit the medicinal use of marijuana.”
Like the Episcopal Church’s statement, the key here is that the Union is specifically supporting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. They believe that people who are ill should not be deprived of the relief and support that cannabis-based products could provide.
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The Presbyterian Church
This Christian denomination is one of the largest religious organizations to make a statement condoning medical marijuana. The denomination published a resolution that made its support for cannabis quite clear in 2006.
Their statement declared “support for the medicinal use of cannabis sativa (also known as marijuana),” and a direction for the Presbyterian Church “to actively urge the Federal government to amend and adopt such laws as will allow the benefits of marijuana treatment for such diseases as cancer, AIDS, and muscular dystrophy.”
With this statement, the large denomination began to use its significant influence to argue for the adoption of marijuana-based treatment.
Progressive National Baptist Convention
Another Christian denomination came out publicly in support of medical marijuana legislation in the spring of 2004. The Progressive National Baptist Convention’s statement reads as follows:
“Licensed medical doctors should not be punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill people, and seriously ill people should not be subject to sanctions for using marijuana if the patient’s physician has told the patient that such use is likely to be beneficial.”
Though no major religious organizations have come out in support of recreational marijuana (unless you count the Church of Cannabis), there’s no doubt that these statements from major religious organizations did a lot to normalize the consumption of cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.
Over many decades, the acceptance of cannabis as a potential medicinal treatment has become more mainstream. The support of the above religious organizations and many others likely helped to make this a reality.