Marijuana And Religion: Buddhism

Being an everyday Buddhist means to live by a basic code of ethics. Buddhists are not expressly forbidden from using cannabis. However, they must have an unclouded mind to make the right decisions. Where that intersects with cannabis use? Can a Buddhist use medicinal marijuana?

A precept is a basic rule intended to regulate behaviour or thought. There are five basic precepts for Buddhists. Intrinsic to all of them is a commitment to abstain from harming living beings. One cannot steal. One cannot lie. Sexual misconduct (however defined) is forbidden. So is intoxication. What does this mean when it comes to cannabis and Buddhists? Basically, you can find reasons to justify cannabis use if you want to. Or you can find reasons to abstain. The choice, if not the ethical decision, is up to you.


There is not much known about specifically marijuana in the history of Buddhism. This is just as squishy as the rest of it. Here is the thing to understand. In its simplest form, being a Buddhist has always meant living in such a way that is honourable. And further, making choices that respect the sanctity of life.

The First Five Precepts essentially focus followers on leading an aesthetic life. The Eight Precepts, practiced by more serious adherents, focus on avoiding immoral behaviour. Such adherents also agree to give up sex, makeup and frivolous entertainment. They also give up other comforts. In other words, these are monks.

How drugs fit into either level of adherence has always been a matter of debate. If they are for medical purposes, Buddhists tend to accept drug use. That said, cannabis is one of those strange plants when it mixes with religion. In many parts of Buddhist Asia, for example, cannabis use and possession is harshly penalized. Even if the user is sick. This includes years in prison or even the death penalty for simple and minor possession.


Official stand of buddhism on cannabis

The Dalai Lama, however, has not really been asked about his position on cannabis until fairly recently. The last comment from the Dalai Lama was that medical cannabis use was permitted. According to the Dalai Lama, the personification of Buddhist doctrine, the only reason you should consume cannabis is for medical purposes.

Buddhists ultimately believe that the only way to enlightenment is through an unclouded mind. To the extent that cannabis use does so, it is frowned upon. The Dalai Lama does not believe recreational use allows users to commit themselves to a life path laid out by Buddha’s teachings. Why not? It clouds the mind.


There are certain aspects and people in the cannabis scene that have an affinity with Buddhism. Certain strains are named after Buddha (like Big Buddha Cheese), certain seedbanks are named after Buddha and you will find a Buddha statue decorating many coffeeshops or dispensaries.

But it seems that although a lot of people and even certain religions are adapting more to the idea of accepting recreational cannabis use, Buddhism is not really changing its position. Maybe the Dalai Lama should join a good hotbox session. He might actually enjoy it.