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July 30, 2015 / 14 Av, 5775
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Legalizing Pot

I strongly believe in legalizing drugs, soft and hard, but I am wary of drugs of any kind.
weed rabbi

Religion has used drugs of various sorts throughout its history. Some people even think the incense used in the Tabernacle, the Knei Bosem (Exodus 30) was, if not marijuana, some other hallucinogen. I chuckle at the thought of all those Israelites crowded into the Temple getting a high. Perhaps that explains why we lost two Temples. John Allegro even argued that the Dead Sea sects were permanently high on mushroom-based drugs.

When I was a headmaster I asked the great and much missed Lubavitcher Rebbe to send me teachers who would inspire my charges with a love for Judaism. Two lovely fellows arrived and did a great job inviting pupils to their homes, and I was delighted until I discovered they were plying thirteen-year-olds with vodka. Any religion that requires artificial stimuli, as far as I am concerned, is dishonest, crazy, or dangerous. Perhaps all those people who have visions of the Virgin Mary have been taking something.

I am in favor of helping those who suffer pain, but still I am wary of drugs of any kind. I believe a person healthy in body and mind should avoid them. Not all users are addled addicts and just as some people like alcohol in moderation perhaps pot works for others too despite the dire warnings of brain damage. I have on occasion taken a sleeping pill. In other words, as adults we have a responsibility to be sensible in our tastes and indulgences and there are limits to government interference.

I see the useless drug wars that narcotic agents wage all over the world. They haven’t succeeded so far so why not legalize and tax? Bureaucracies and government agencies seem to have a record of incompetence, political interference, and vested interests. Just look at the US tax system or the Affordable Care Act. Do you really need any more proof? Let the sick, the poor and the weak have their little pleasures. The role of government is to ensure they do not harm others.

We have a tradition of allowing our children to drink wine for kiddush. Usually our children do not grow into alcoholics. Control, education, and moderation are the best means of bringing people up to know where the limits are, not legislation.

About the Author: Jeremy Rosen is an Orthodox rabbi, author, and lecturer, and the congregational rabbi of the Persian Jewish Center of New York. He is best known for advocating an approach to Jewish life that is open to the benefits of modernity and tolerant of individual variations while remaining committed to halacha (Jewish law). His articles and weekly column appear in publications in several countries, including the Jewish Telegraph and the London Jewish News, and he often comments on religious issues on the BBC.


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7 Responses to “Legalizing Pot”

  1. ohhhh you look high,maybe the oxygen from those plants release ,then you breath it inn hey, they naturals..?????

  2. They. US, should never legalize Pot…Marijuana! It will only destroy the market with everyone growing their own.

  3. And Moses stood before the burning bush and took it all in and then heard the voice of Hashem talking to him? Of course he forgot where the bush was and we spent 40 years wandering around the desert following him whIle he was searching for it.

  4. All kidding aside, Israel should legalize pot/hash and tax it. So should the U.S. Prohibition just leads to a wealthy criminal class & the corruption of civil authorities.

  5. Ron Danko says:

    i believe that the Knai Bosem mentioned in the chumish some interpret
    be cannabis ( note similarity ) !? I

  6. Anonymous says:

    There are positive uses for all things created… but when it comes to dealing with a matter at the 'communal' level, we ought not legislate for the few, but the many.
    Medical Marijuana is available in pill form under many prescribed names, It can be in natural organic form or synthesized… this is tried and proven, nothing new. The pill form has twice (2x) the analgesic properties without the euphoria (high) nor other many harmful side effects.
    Most of those who push for marijuana (or other drug) reform are either looking to get high, to relieve themselves of social obligation (policing), or to get votes from supporting the issue.
    Legalizing or decriminalizing is not the socially responsible thing to do and will in time compromise those who could truly benefit from alternative treatments in the longer haul. Marijuana 'decriminalization or legalization has always led to greater social problem; increased drug exposure to youth, addictions, mental health and health issues, greater demand on social assistance.
    Be socially responsible … Take a pill.
    Writenut –

  7. Anonymous says:

    Legalization??
    Stats Canada
    January 2012 to December 2012… a 1 year period
    British Columbia, Canada; Person Authorized use of Marijuana increase
    legalized usage from 4,928 users to 13,362 users, an increase in usersin 1year of +171%.
    Writenut

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