In the News: New Writings on Cannabis and Judaism

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In popular media, Christians have been vocal about cannabis for years: some for, some against, and some in the middle somewhere. But there has been relatively little reporting about cannabis and Judaism.

A story in my facebook feed caught my eye this morning: a HuffPo article by Jane Marcus, PhD entitled Holy Cannabis: The Bible Tells Us So. I had never read about the Jewish history of cannabis, and was immediately intrigued. A search revealed that both Dr. Marcus and Yoseph Lieb Ibn Mardachya have written articles about cannabis and Judaism for the Huffington Post over the past year, both citing examples of cannabis use in Jewish biblical history as well as discussing modern Jewish theological perspectives on cannabis use.

Mardachya has also written a book on the topic, Cannabis Chassidis: The Ancient and Emerging Torah of Drugs (Autonomedia press, 2012), described in his bio as “an epic devotional study of Cannabis and other ethneogens in Judaism and its heresies throughout history, into super-modernity, in the hopes of passing on a useful counsel with regards to their use beyond “do” or “don’t.” ” Hooray for Amazon Prime – looking forward to this read; expect a book review here on Ladybud in the near future.

For now, check out Dr. Marcus’s article from today, in which she discusses biblical references to cannabis use, as well as the current progressive view of the Union for Reform Judaism:

This Saturday, the day after Valentine’s day, synagogues all over the world will be studying the Torah portion Ki Tissa, Exodus 30:11-34:35. It’s likely that most people who are asked to comment on the portion will focus on the dramatic story of the Golden Calf that is told in the portion.

I’m going to follow a different path. My focus is on a detail in the beginning of the portion that describes the laws concerning the holy tabernacle. I want to talk about one ingredient in the recipe for the anointing oil used to sanctify both the tabernacle and the priests themselves. (Exodus 30:22-33).