Asking the Clergy: Your faith and recreational marijuana – Newsday

Posted By on August 30, 2022

Sales of recreational marijuana are expected to begin soon on Long Island, another step in the legalization of cannabis in New York for adults 21 and older. This weeks clergy discuss what Scripture says and doesnt say about the drug previously legalized for medicinal prescription.

Rabbi Jack Dermer

Temple Beth Torah, Westbury

The mention in Exodus 30:23 of the aromatic spice kaneh-bosem, which sounds strikingly like cannabis, has led scholars to speculate on the use of the substance during ancient Israelite worship. That historical debate notwithstanding, modern Jews follow the directives of the rabbinic sages on matters of ethics and religious practice. The rabbis in the Talmud remind us that Jews are obligated to observe the laws of the lands we live in. In places where cannabis remains illegal, the majority of rabbis would advise their congregants not to break the law. In states where recreational use is now legal, the question broadens.

If cannabis use makes you tired or lazy, overly self-involved or less likely to contribute to society, then I would urge you to reflect deeply and ask yourself, Is this really worth it? But if cannabis use makes you a more empathetic and thoughtful person, and when used occasionally and safely, it helps you to appreciate all the good that God has given us in this world music, food, loving relationships and nature then I have no issue with Jews using it. Just please, not before service. We dont have enough bagels for everyone to come with the munchies!

Khalid S. Lateef of Deer Park

President and imam emeritus, As Siraataal Mustaqeem Islamic Center, Wyandanch

The highest source for guidance for Muslims is the Holy Quran, which does not mention marijuana, but does address wine as an intoxicant and cautions against getting intoxicated by any means. Quran, Chapter 2, Verse 219, says: They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: In them is great sin, and some profit for men; but the sin is greater than the profit.

Our next source for life guidance is the Sunnah, or sayings and behavior of Prophet Muhammad, in which it is reported that the Messenger of God said: Every intoxicant is khamr (wine) and every intoxicant is haram (unlawful).

The third source of guidance for the Muslims life is the consensus of Muslim scholars. All schools of Islamic jurisprudence unanimously agree that consuming any intoxicant is haram. Finally, the Muslim is encouraged to use logical reasoning. Euphoria is the experience (or effect) of pleasure or excitement and intense feelings of well-being and happiness. This feeling can be achieved through natural means: exercise, music, fasting and religious disciplines. The use of marijuana and other drugs is an unnatural way to feel a sense of euphoria. In short, Islam does not support marijuana use.

The Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr.

Pastor, Church-in-the-Garden, Garden City

While the Bible has many admonishments, codes and teachings regarding personal piety and societal relationships, as with many challenges and questions we face today, there is no specific guidance on recreational marijuana use. However, the Bible always invites us to discernment and deep exploration regarding issues that affect our lived experiences.

The question of recreational marijuana, or any of todays hot-button topics, must be considered holistically and in the context of the Bibles mandate of love and justice. These subjects can never be divorced from their societal relationships and the history of discriminatory laws and enforcement against this countrys poor and minority classes. Too often, we cherry-pick Scriptures to justify our means and desired outcomes on controversial matters. This is terrible and sophomoric theology!

I believe faith is more concerned about justice and the dismantling of power structures that oppress rather than individual questions of does the Bible allow this or that? Therefore, to those considering cannabis use: Please make an informed personal decision. Do not assume that because your faith interpretation condones or prohibits a behavior, that your view should be the law of the land. Instead, allow space for the opinions of others to ensure equity for everyone.

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