Cannabis Religious Challenge Update

My lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, and I have been preparing for a Nov. 3 appearance in Federal Canadian court regarding our religious challenge for a cannabis exemption. Below are documents prepared from Professors, two of whom are slated to appear as expert witnesses in the case:

In the matter of

My name is C. SCOTT LITTLETON, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA 90041, U.S.A. My home address is… [not included here]. I attach my Curriculum Vitae as Exhibit 1. I make this affidavit of my own personal knowledge.

I am a cultural anthropologist who has studied human magico-religious behavior, mythology, and folklore since the late 1950s, and, in the course of this study, have frequently had occasion to research the religious and spiritual use of cannabis and other psychotropic drugs. As an example of this research, I can cite my article, “The Pneuma Enthusiastikon: On the Possibility of Hallucinogenic ‘Vapors’ at Delphi and Dodona.” Ethos 14:76-91, 1986, which concerns the possibility that, in ancient times, cannabis fumes were inhaled by the Pythia at Delphi, thus permitting her to enter a trance state and make prognostications. Indeed, it was this article that prompted Mr. Bennett to contact me re his research into the ritual use of cannabis in Vedic India and elsewhere in the ancient world.

I have read Mr. Bennett’s several books on this subject and am in general agreement with what he states, especially about the extent to which the Vedic hallucinogen Soma was probably made from cannabis. Indeed, his research has changed my own thinking about this ancient conundrum (heretofore, the majority of scholars have suggested that Soma was prepared from psychotropic mushrooms).

As Mr. Bennett has amply demonstrated, the ritual use of cannabis has a very long history, both in the Old and New Worlds. For example, in addition to its use at Delphi and in the ancient Indian Soma cult, as well as by shamans, both ancient and contemporary, in many parts of the world, we know from both Herodotus (Book Four) and archaeology that the ancient Scythians ritually inhaled cannabis fumes. Herodotus, who may have been an eye-witness, called it a ritual “smoke bath,” during which the participants “howled like wolves,” and burned hemp seeds have been found in braziers at several Scythian sites in Central Asia and Western Siberia, most notably at Pazyryk (near Novosibirsk).

In more recent times, and especially in the twentieth century, users of cannabis for spiritual purposes have often been persecuted, in the United States and elsewhere, by authorities enforcing laws against its possession. A good example can be seen in the ongoing attempts to suppress its use in the Rastafarian religion, in which cannabis plays a major albeit illicit ceremonial role.

In short, cannabis has indeed occupied an extremely important position in the history of human spirituality, one that has all too often been overlooked (or ignored) by those authorities who are adamantly opposed to its use, no matter what the context.


SWORN BEFORE ME, a Notary Public, in the City of South Pasadena,
CA, U.S.A., this 28th day of October, 2009.




I, Thomas Bradford Roberts, Ph.D, of [… not included here]

1. My name is Thomas B. Roberts, and I make this statutory declaration from personal knowledge of the matters and facts stated in it. I am a Professor Emeritus of Educational Psychology at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL. USA, where I have been employed since 1970.

2. Area of Expertise. As evidenced by my vita and from my faculty website (attached exhibit), I would like to draw the court’s attention to my professional publications in religious studies and scholarly duties having to do wholly or in part with the spiritual uses of psychoactive plants and chemicals.

Note: the word entheogen refers to a psychoactive plant or chemical used in a spiritual or religious context.


a. 1970-2006. Professor of Educational Psychology, Northern Illinois University. Duties: teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, serving on and chairing master’s theses and doctoral dissertations

b. Fall 2006. Visiting Scientist, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, Baltimore, MD. Duties: lead weekly staff development session and consulted on psilocybin research project.

c. Spring 2007 – present. Professor Emeritus instructor for the Honors Program seminar Foundations of Psychedelic Studies, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL.


d. (2009 or 2010 in-press). Entheogenic Contributions to Self-Transcendence, Healing, Pastoral Counseling, and Evangelism. Chapter 11 in Harold Ellens (ed.) The Healing Power of Spirituality, Vol. 3. Westport, CT. and London: Praeger/Greenwood Publications.

e. (2008). Multistate and Entheogenic Contributions to the Study of Miracles and Experimental Religious Studies. Chapter 3 in Harold Ellens (ed.) Miracles: God, Science, and Psychology in the Paranormal. Westport, CT. and London: Praeger /Greenwood Publications.

f. (2007). Winkelman, M. & T. Roberts (eds.) Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogenic Substances as Treatments, 2 vols. Westport, CT. and London: Praeger/Greenwood. [Ten chapters are primarily about the religious and/or spiritual uses of these substances.]

g. (2006). Chemical Input, Religious Output—Entheogens: A Pharmatheology Sampler. Chapter10 in Patrick McNamara (ed.) Where God and Science Meet, Vol. 3. Westport, CT. and London: Praeger/Greenwood Publications.

h. (2004). Entheogens—Sacramentals or Sacrilege? Design for a University Course. [Originally presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, October 22-24, 2004, Kansas City, MO.] Retrieved Oct. 13, 2009, from

i. (2001). (ed.). Psychoactive Sacramentals: Essays on Entheogens and Religion. San Francisco: Council on Spiritual Practices.

j. (1999). Do Entheogen-induced Mystical Experiences Boost the Immune System? Psychedelics, Peak-experiences, and Wellness. Advances in Mind-Body Health, Vol. 15, pp. 139-147.

k. (1995-2003). with Hruby, P. J. (eds.) Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments: An Entheogen Chrestomathy. [An online archive of over 550 entries including excerpts and expanded bibliographic information.]

l. (1997). Academic and Religious Freedom in the Study of the Mind. Chapter 11 in Robert Forte (ed.). Entheogens and the Future of Religion. San Francisco: Council on Spiritual Practices.

m. (1995). Psychoactive Sacraments. Valombrosa Conference Retreat Center, Menlo Park, CA. [A conference-retreat jointly sponsored by the Chicago Theological Seminary and the Council on Spiritual Practices. Co-organizer, program chair, floor manager.]

n. Co-founder and former director of the Council on Spiritual Practices.

o. Additional items will be found in my vita 1970-2006 and at my faculty website 2006-present.

3. Does marijuana (cannabis) have religious use?

a. A search of the website of the Council on Spiritual Practices and its 550-entry archive Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments (item k above) discovers 70 citations, and this archive does not include journal, periodical, or press citations, which probably outnumber the books and dissertations of this archive. Some of these entries are against the spiritual use of marijuana, a few are neutral, but most recognize this practice as spiritually legitimate. Regardless of the positions taken, the existence of these entries as a whole indicates that the topic has recognized status within the religious community and in religious studies and is not to be dismissed lightly. Also, new entries to this source stopped in 2003; and as the compiler of that resource who has kept file folders of possible future additions, I expect additional books and academic dissertations on the religious uses of marijuana published since then would probably number several dozen.

b. In On Being Stoned: A Psychological Study of Marijuana Intoxication, written by Charles T. Tart, Ph.D. and published in 1971 (Science and Behavior Books, Palo Alto, Ca.), Chapter 19 is titled “Spiritual Experiences.” This chapter reports the results of four questions that were part of a 224-item survey of marijuana users.

Item 192: “I feel in touch with a Higher Power or Divine Being to some extent when stoned: I feel more in contact with the ‘spiritual’ side of things.”

22% responded “very often” or “usually”.

Item 193: I am able to meditate more effectively than when straight …”

13% reported “very often” or “frequently”

Item 194: “I have had spiritual experiences, discrete experiences, which have had a powerful long-term religious effect on me while stoned.”

33% answered “yes” to this item. When asked to elaborate on these experiences, their descriptions included feelings of unity, stimulation of long-term interest in religion, contact with divine beings, long-term positive changes in life-style, and deep peace and joy.

Item 195: “Getting stoned has acquired a religious significance for me.”

22 % answered “yes”

c. In my judgement, Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence, (2002, Oxford University Press) by Mitch Earlywine, Ph.D., provides the most thorough and thoughtful compilation of information on this topic. On pages 112-113, he writes, “The Coptic and Rastafarian Churches smoke cannabis as part of their religious practice, too. Certain sects of Buddhism in Nepal use marijuana as a sacrament (Clark, 1998). … Many encourage pensive, meditative use of the drug and deride mindless consumption (Bello, 1996). This approach to use may minimize the potential for negative consequences related to the drug.”

To answer my question above, “Does marijuana (cannabis) have religious use?” My answer is, “Clearly, yes.” This is not to imply that all current marijuana use is religious; clearly it isn’t. But at the same time, some current use is religious and is spiritually significant to those using it that way.

4. Is Christopher Bennett’s use religious and/or spiritual?

Having exchanged emails with Christopher Bennett for several years, I met him personally at a conference in Vancouver in 2004. Since then we have continued to email. At that time, we discussed the spiritual-religious uses of cannabis, and I have read parts of his co-authored books Green Gold the Tree of Life, Marijuana in Magic & Religion and Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible. Having spent a large fraction of my professional work compiling information the entheogens (item k above), I am solidly impressed with the scholarship on Mr. Bennett’s two books., He and his co-authors present the religious and spiritual use of cannabis in what must have been the result of painstaking detailed research in archeology, anthropology, theology, and other contributory disciplines to religious studies.

To me this also indicates a sincere belief on his part in the spiritual benefits of his use of cannabis. A casual, let’s-get-high smoker would not spend such tedious labors as these books required, and just as scholars within accepted religious traditions express their dedication and beliefs in, say, detailed historical or linguistic research, Mr. Bennett’s work witnesses the credibility of his convictions.

In my judgment and considering the laborious process of writing a book, seeing it through its rewriting, editing, printing and publication, these activities are sufficient evidence of Mr. Bennett’s sincere dedication to his religious use of cannabis.

Someone could merely claim that he or she smoked cannabis as part of one’s religion in order to try to circumvent the law, but a person with this motivation would not dedicate the hours of tedious work to writing books without a sincere belief that doing so is part of his spiritual dedication. And if circumventing the law were one’s purpose, it would not serve to call attention to oneself and one’s use of marijuana by writing books about marijuana.

Summary: it is my opinion that Mr. Bennett’s practice of using cannabis is a sincere and significant part of his religious beliefs, and that prohibiting him from doing so is an interference with his religious freedom. In religious thought there exists a concept called “transgression in service of a higher good” (such as a doctor healing on the Sabbath); I hope the Court will recognize a similar exception for transgressing drug laws in Mr. Bennett’s spiritual use of cannabis.

Respectfully submitted,
Thomas B. Roberts

Prepared by Prof. Carl Ruck, Classical Mythology, Boston University for the case, who will also be submitting an affidavit

1. Have there been instances in history of religions and/or spiritual practices that used psychoactive substances in their worship? If so please cite examples.

Psychoactive Sacraments are the Probable Origin of Religions.


— Plant sacraments or shamanic inebriants evoking religious ecstasy or vision; commonly used in the archaic world in divination for shamanic healing, and in Holy Communion, for example during the Initiation to the Eleusinian Mysteries or the Vedic Soma sacrifice.

Literally: becoming divine within.

Evolutionary science has amassed much evidence that the ancestors of man were primate cousins living in the forests and grasslands of Africa. Religious origins certainly grew out of primitive man’s struggle to define and control his surroundings. Prehistoric man would have respected and hailed the elements such as lighting, thunder and fire for their frightening and destructive power; and he would also have had respect for powerful mind altering substances found in nature.

Anthropological, ethnopharmacological and historical research has shown that the traditional purpose of such psychoactive plant use was to attain direct spiritual experience, during which users made contact with different spirits and unseen realms in order to gain knowledge and wisdom for themselves and/or members of their social group. Scientists studying aboriginal cultures with shamanic traditions have conclusively demonstrated that hallucinogenic substances were frequently used as an adjunct to the shamans’ inner quest for vision and the search for healing.

The oldest organized continual religious tradition was that of the Indo-European Indian/ Iranian Magi, which arguably became the first monotheist religion (the precedent for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) through the revisions of the prophet Zarathustra (known to the Greeks as Zoroaster), perhaps as early as 6000 BCE, who was also credited with the transition from a nomadic culture of hunter-gatherers to the settled manner of civilization in urban centers with the arts of agriculture. Common to the Magi and their Zoroastrian successors (as well as the similar traditions of the Indian Brahmans) was the admittedly intoxicating botanical sacrament called haoma/soma. The identity of this plant or combination of plants has been the subject of scholarly debate. Candidates include mushrooms (Amanitas, Psilocybes), Syrian rue (Peganum harmala) potentiated by acacia—producing an Old World equivalent of ayahuasca, Ephedra, and Cannabis. The actual ingredients probably differed over the long history of the religion’s continual existence, but archaeological evidence can document Cannabis used in a ritual haoma ceremony as early as 2000 BCE at the sanctuary at Gunur in eastern Turkmenistan.

Similar and apparently separate traditions of visionary sacraments are documented in Neolithic (ca. 6000 BCE) rock paintings, specifically from North African Tassili n’Ajjer and the southeastern Hispanic peninsula (Spanish Levantine) and from cave sites in southwestern France, as well as Siberia, South Africa, and Australia.

In early historical times, one might cite the religious use of psychoactive substances among the Egyptians, early Judaism, Mesopotamian and Anatolian peoples (such as the settlement at Çatal Hüyük), and Classical Greece.

Classical Greece (5th-century BCE) is of particular relevance since it is claimed as the ancestor and inspiration of the Western Tradition. The main Hellenic religion was the Eleusinian Mystery initiation, which grew out of earlier cults with their own traditions of psychoactive sacraments, including opium. The Eleusinian Mystery, celebrated in a village near Athens, began about 1500 BCE and lasted nearly two millennia, until supplanted by the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. The religion induced a communal visionary event that was experienced as a journey to the otherworld and return by means of a sacred potion whose active agent was LSD extracted from ergot, a common fungus on cultivated grains.

In addition, one of the principle deities of Classical Greece was the god Dionysus or Bacchus. He was a god of intoxication, music, and dance; and his sacred drink was wine, which was always correctly drunk diluted with water and fortified by varieties of psychoactive herbal additives. He is similar to deities of ecstatic rapture in other cultures, such as the Aztec Xochipili.

The Persian version of the Vedic Soma sacrament was assimilated in the Greco-Roman world in the 1st century BCE as the cult of Mithras, which became one of the dominant religions of the Roman Empire, along with Christianity and the Egyptian Mystery of Isis. The religion originally of nomadic peoples from the Steppes of central Asia assimilated various aspects of the agrarian cults of the ubiquitous Goddess as it progressed through Mesopotamia and Anatolia, and similar versions of the cult involved Cybele and her lover Attis, and had already established itself even before the Classical Age in Greece through frequent contact with the Persian nobility and is seen in the traditions about the mythical hero Perseus, who is claimed as the ancestor of the Persians and is often indistinguishable from Mithras.

Membership in the Mithraic cult was restricted exclusively to men, who met in small groups in confined subterranean sanctuaries, the remains of which are found throughout Europe, the Near East and Africa, where they celebrated their god and initiated new members with a seven-fold sequence of visionary psychoactive sacraments. The visionary experience was expressed through the philosophy of Stoicism and involved a liberating spiritual ascent to the rim of the Universe and the concept of Cosmic Renewal through the Final Conflagration at the End of Time.

These sanctuaries are totally unsuitable for banqueting upon ordinary foods. As is often the case, other drugs appear to have been accepted as substitutes or surrogates for the original fungal identity of Soma, including the extract from ergot, under the descriptive metaphor of ass’s ears. Nero was the first Emperor to be initiated by what is called a series of magical dinners, and most of his successors including Constantine before his Conversion espoused the cult, along with the army and bureaucrats who administered the Empire, so that the mushroom cult could safely be called the drug that ‘civilized’ Europe, or more correctly, imposed the Greco-Roman tradition, displacing the Druids, with their psychoactive mistletoe, and other indigenous cults.

Although officially banned after the Conversion, aspects of the religion were assimilated or co-opted by Christianity as the seven sacraments of the Church, and the warrior brotherhoods persisted as secret societies such as Freemasonry.

Early Christianity, itself, had psychoactive Communion rites, which were condemned as heretical, by the dominant Church established by Paul, but evidence indicates that the ecclesiastical elite as late as the Renaissance had reserved the psychoactive Eucharist for themselves, and vigorously prosecuted such sacraments by so-called heretical groups like the Cathars, as well as perpetuations of pre-Christian practices by persons accused of witchcraft.

The evidence for psychoactive sacraments among the pre-Conquest peoples of the New World is also relevant. In the 1950s R. Gordon Wasson’s investigations of the Mexican pre-Columbian mushroom cult established beyond question the prominence of hallucinogens in the religious exercises of the whole Mayan-Aztec culture. In addition to mushrooms, the Mesoamerican peoples employed such plants as San Pedro cacti and peyote. In many cases, even after the conversion to Christianity they assimilated their indigenous rites to the new imposed religion.

2. Have there been instances in history of religions and/or spiritual practices that used cannabis in their worship? If so please cite examples.

Hemp played a prominent role in the development of the religions and civilizations of Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. The insights gained from the marijuana high by the ancient worshippers were considered to be of divine origin and the plant itself an “angel” or messenger of the gods. The sacramental use of marijuana predates written history and this tradition continues with diverse tribes in Africa, certain Hindu sects, Moslem fakirs and Sufis, Rastafarians, as well as modern Occultists and Pagans.

The 5th-century BCE Greek Herodotus (4.73) documented the use of cannabis as a ritual sacrament by the Scythians for their funerals. Before that, the Greeks knew the plant by other names, such as ‘smoke.’ The comic dramatist Aristophanes parodied the Scythian rite in his Clouds (ca. 423), implying that philosophers like Socrates got their ideas by being ‘high.’ It was probably often an ingredient in the incenses burnt in holy sanctuaries.

More relevant is the use of cannabis by the Jews to produce a similar psychoactive atmosphere in the Temple, where it was burned in an enclosed space as incense and also employed for anointing the sacred vessels, as well as the high priest himself, so that he could speak to Yahweh. By the account of Philo (20 BCE—50 CE), who was himself a Jewish High Priest:

All inside is unseen, except by the High Priest alone, and indeed, he, though charged with the duty of entering once a year, gets no view of anything. For he takes with him a brazier full of lighted coals and incense, and the great quantity of vapor covers everything around it, beclouds the sight and prevents it from being able to penetrate to any distance. – Philo, De specialibus legibus, 1.13.72

3. Are there benefits to existence of such religious/spiritual practices?

Cicero said of the Eleusinian Mystery:

For among the many excellent and indeed divine institutions that Athens has brought forth and contributed to human life, none, in my opinion, is better than those mysteries. For by their means we have been brought out of our barbarous and savage mode of life and educated and refined to a state of civilization; and as the rites are called “initiations,” so in very truth we have learned from them the beginnings of life, and have gained the power not only to live happily, but also to die with a better hope. – Laws, II, xiv, 36.

The god Dionysus as patron of the theater in Athens was largely responsible for the elevation of that city as the pinnacle of Classical culture. Further archaeological and literary studies of the use of psychotropic substances in ancient cult practices may well lead to the conclusion that the imaginary world of the stage would never have been possible without the use of psychotropic chemicals.

Plutarch, in Table Talk, a sort of mock philosophical dialogue, discussed how Jewish sacraments of the pre-Christian era reflected the union of religious practices surrounding the god of Abraham with the public worship of Dionysus, the god of intoxication and ecstasy. According to Plutarch both gods were associated with the same delirium–inducing plants, both used similar symbols and sacred implements, both used music in the same manner during worship, and the priests wore garments very similar to those used in the worship of Dionysus. Plutarch even clamed there was a direct linguistic connection between the Hebrew word for Sabbath and the Greek Sabi, which was used to denote the crazed, intoxicated followers of Dionysus.

The Native American Church, which is a Christian Church that assimilates pre-Christian traditions, has used its peyote sacrament as a treatment for alcoholic addiction. Similarly, the West African iboga plant, which is used in traditional religious initiations, has shown efficacy in treating heroine and cocaine addiction. Similar research with the visionary ayahuasca potion suggests its use in the treatment of addictions.

4. Do the intoxicating affects of cannabis lend themselves to a feeling of spiritual transcendence?

The classic experiment in this regard was conducted at Marsh Chapel at Boston University on Good Friday of 1962 with psilocybin (the active agent in Psilocybe mushrooms). The subjects were graduate degree divinity students and almost all reported experiencing profound religious experiences. The experiment was repeated with very similar results at Johns Hopkins University in 2006.

The classic description of such an experience with mescaline (the active agent in peyote and a few other cacti and plants) is Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception (1954). Here are a few excerpts:

I was not looking now at an unusual flower arrangement. I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation-the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence.

Istigkeit – wasn’t that the word Meister Eckhart liked to use? “Is-ness.” The Being of Platonic philosophy – except that Plato seems to have made the enormous, the grotesque mistake of separating Being from becoming and identifying it with the mathematical abstraction of the Idea. He could never, poor fellow, have seen a bunch of flowers shining with their own inner light and all but quivering under the pressure of the significance with which they were charged; could never have perceived that what rose and iris and carnation so intensely signified was nothing more, and nothing less, than what they were – a transience that was yet eternal life, a perpetual perishing that was at the same time pure Being, a bundle of minute, unique particulars in which, by some unspeakable and yet self-evident paradox, was to be seen the divine source of all existence.

I continued to look at the flowers, and in their living light I seemed to detect the qualitative equivalent of breathing -but of a breathing without returns to a starting point, with no recurrent ebbs but only a repeated flow from beauty to heightened beauty, from deeper to ever deeper meaning. Words like “grace” and “transfiguration” came to my mind, and this, of course, was what, among other things, they stood for. My eyes traveled from the rose to the carnation, and from that feathery incandescence to the smooth scrolls of sentient amethyst which were the iris. The Beatific Vision, Sat Chit Ananda, Being-Awareness-Bliss-for the first time I understood, not on the verbal level, not by inchoate hints or at a distance, but precisely and completely what those prodigious syllables referred to. And then I remembered a passage I had read in one of Suzuki’s essays. “What is the Dharma-Body of the Buddha?” (‘”the Dharma-Body of the Buddha” is another way of saying Mind, Suchness, the Void, the Godhead.) The question is asked in a Zen monastery by an earnest and bewildered novice. And with the prompt irrelevance of one of the Marx Brothers, the Master answers, “The hedge at the bottom of the garden.” “And the man who realizes this truth,” the novice dubiously inquires, ‘”what, may I ask, is he?” Groucho gives him a whack over the shoulders with his staff and answers, “A golden-haired lion.”

I recommended this book to a friend and colleague who has devoted many years to meditation under the guidance of a spiritual master. She said that this was exactly the goal that they were striving to attain.

With regard to cannabis, I quote the following from the Reverend Ernie Gordon, who is not himself a user, but has had similar experience from what he calls ‘contemplation’:

I was reasoning with a Rastafarian recently, and he told me that during his contemplative prayer sessions, he smokes marijuana and he has been discovering that he develops a wisdom that he cannot explain easily. Many Christian psychiatrists, who are experimenting with psychedelic drugs, request that it is better to take certain drugs within the sacramental rite, rather than looking to psychedelic drugs in terms of periodic recreational flirtations.

It is evident that there is urgent need for dialogue between the Christian and Rastafarian theologians to discuss at a deeper level the use of marijuana in the religious ritual in order to aid the transcendental experience. I would also like to ask the Rastafarian theologian if he/she has similar transcendental experiences, which are as follows:

a) There is a sense of oneness with God or the universe, combined with a transcendence of time and space.

b) There is insight, a sense of mystery, and ineffability.

c) There is a profound joy, peace, and a sense of rejoicing and there is a lasting effect on thinking and attitude, although sometimes the experience is transient.

About the ritual use of ganja (cannabis) by the Rastafarians, I quote the following:

Contrary to popular belief, pious Rastas do not smoke marijuana recreationally, and some (the canonical Ethiopian Orthodox and also the followers of certain classical Elders) do not use it at all. Most Rastafarian teachers, however, have advocated the controlled ritual smoking of “wisdomweed” both privately as an aid to meditation and communally from “chalice” pipes as an “incense pleasing to the Lord”. The argument is that ganja is the “green herb” of the King James Bible and that its use is a kind of shortcut version of traditional ascetical practice.

5. Are you familiar with the Church of the Universe tenets?

I know a few Church members, but my knowledge of the Church’s beliefs derives from their publications. They are a syncretistic religion, founded in 1969, encompassing the scriptures of various groups, not necessarily Christian. Some of their members are well versed in such writings. They espouse personal freedom, which they express through nudity. They tend toward Gnosticism (which means knowledge though direct encounter or experience with the divine, without any specific anthropomorphized persona). They claim to be restoring the cannabis ritual of ancient Judaism. Although the organization is egalitarian, the members sometimes assume titles of a traditional ecclesiastical hierarchy. Their main goal is to cause no harm, and request the same from others. Although the Rastafarians have a cannabis sacrament, they are not allied with that Church.

6. Is there merit to the claims by Church of the Universe practitioners that cannabis is referred to in the bible and may have been used by Jesus Christ?

Cannabis is called kaneh bosem in Hebrew, which is now recognized as the Scythian word that Herodotus wrote as kannabis (or cannabis). The translators of the bible translate this usually as ‘fragrant cane,’ i.e., an aromatic grass. Once the word is correctly translated, the use of cannabis in the bible is clear. Large amounts of it were compounded into the ointment for the ordination of the priest. This ointment was also used to anoint the holy vessels in the Inner Sanctum or Tabernacle (‘tent’). It was also used to fumigate the holy enclosed space. The ointment (absorbed through the skin) and the fragrance of the vessels (both absorbed by handling and inhaled as perfume) and the smoke of the incense in the confined space would have been a very effective means of administering the psychoactive properties of the plant. Since it was only the High Priest who entered the Tabernacle, it was an experience reserved for him, although as the chrism of priestly ordination it was probably also something experienced in a different way by the whole priesthood. This same psychoactive chrism was later used for the coronation of the kings.

The democratized use of a psychoactive sacrament, however, is the magical food called manna. When one ate it, one’s eyes were opened and one saw God. Moses was said to have sustained his people on this magical food for their long sojourn in the desert. Various candidates for it have been proposed, and the most likely identity is something like LSD, derived from ergot, a common fungus on grains.

Jesus was probably trained as an Essene before the years of his proselytizing. The Essenes were known as healers and had extensive knowledge of drug plants. It is highly likely that Jesus experienced psychoactive sacraments. Since healing medicines were commonly compounded as oils, it is quite probable that the healing performed by Jesus involved administering the traditional Essene herbal pharmaceuticals, which would have, and in fact did on the basis of archaeological remains, included cannabis. One must remember also that the gospel account of his ministry is partly mythologized and certainly reworked from earlier documents. Healings recorded as miracles may well have involved skills of a physician.

Additionally, Jesus was called the ‘Christ,’ which means that he was ‘anointed.’ The chrism of his anointment would have been the one described above for the Jewish ordination, which is to say, Jesus would have to have experienced the effect of cannabis. The biblical account of this chrismation is the encounter with John the Baptist at the River Jordan. It is the effective cause of the ensuing vision of the opened heavens, which can only be termed a mystical experience. The bible also seems to state that Jesus did not abide by the traditional reservation of this ointment for the priests and the elite, but that he shared it with the commonality of his followers.

You have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. The anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. —I John 2:27.

It is the common Gnostic pattern that the experience of the psychoactive sacrament confers Knowledge.

As for the use of psychoactive sacraments by the early converts to Christianity, there were various forms of the communal meal or Eucharist, and archaeological evidence indicates that at least some of the meeting halls were intended for rituals of chemically altered consciousness. As Christians or followers of the Anointed One, the chrism prescribed in the bible would be an obvious choice, although other ‘drugs’ borrowed from other competing religions would also be involved.

7. Do you agree with the following: When people migrate to a new country they bring their belief systems. Sometimes, initially, there is conflict between their belief systems and the prevailing culture/belief system in the new country. But over time, it is not uncommon for elements of the migrant’s belief systems to be poached by new belief systems in the new country.

It is common for new religions to assimilate traditions from the religions they supplant. They often in previous times did this by building their new places of worship in the same place as the former, even using remnants of the previous structures in their new temple.

Thus, above the desecrated sanctuary of Eleusis sits the little Christian chapel where the Blessed Virgin is worshipped as the Panaghia Mesoporitisa, the ‘Holy Lady who resides within the seed of grain.’ It is a common epithet elsewhere throughout Greece, perpetuated with little thought of the more ancient Goddess it perpetuates. In Athens, the Byzantine church that stands beside the looming modern cathedral was constructed from stones purloined from ancient temples and the Panaghia here, as elsewhere, bears the title of Gorgoepikoös, not the ‘All-hearing Lady,’ as it is claimed, but the ancient ‘Gorgon Queen, who harkens to our prayers.’ In some places, an actual Gorgon head is found buried beneath the Christian altar. Similarly, throughout the British Isles, the old Celtic goddess known as Sheila-na-gig as the entrance into sacred space was used as an ornament above the doorways of Christian churches.

Here is my personal affidavit:



I, Christopher Bennett of #3 – 1943 Charles Street, in the City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, Canada, make oath and declare as follows:

1. My name is Christopher Bennett and I make this statutory declaration from personal knowledge of the matters and facts stated in it.

2. I use cannabis for spiritual and religious purposes and have done so since 1990.

3. I have extensively researched and written on the issue of cannabis use and policy, generally, and cannabis and religion specifically. Along with authoring many articles and making presentations at conferences, I have published two books on the subject of cannabis and religion: Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion (Access Unlimited, 1995) and Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible (Forbidden Fruit Publishing, 2001). My third book on this topic, Cannabis and the Soma Solution is set for a release in 2010 and is being published by Trineday.

4. I sincerely believe, as a result of my religious convictions, that access to plants is a natural right of all people. I also sincerely believe that cannabis is a sacrament and its use an aid to spiritual and religious practice.

5. I came to the realization of this profound truth via a plant-based religious experience.

6. However, the right to access the plants of the earth goes far beyond any particular religious dogma. All religious doctrines were recorded by the hand of Man, but no matter what deity a person may believe in, virtually all theistic religions believe that their respective deity or deities created the plants of the Earth.

7. This indigenous plant and man relationship can be seen from even a human secularist view point, when discussing the right to access the plants of the earth we of necessity discuss the natural state of life on earth and humanity’s indigenous relationship with those plants.

8. In the case of cannabis, as my own research into the matter fully documents, humans have had a relationship with that plant that goes back at least 10,000 years from archeological evidence of cannabis fibers, but on the basis of tools and other evidence some estimate this relationship as old as 25,000. This history includes the established use of cannabis in the world’s oldest civilizations. Further, archeological evidence of burnt cannabis indicates as a Shamanic inebriant this use goes back at least 5,500, and use of it for this purpose can be found at throughout the ancient world, and at the inception of some of the world’s oldest existing religions. As I hope to show the court, my personal belief of cannabis’ role in this has been substantiated by considerable historical documentation and evidence, and when I make such a statement it comes from both a place of knowledge and faith.

9. My own sincere and specific religious belief is that cannabis is the Biblical Tree of Life, a realization that came to me close to two decades ago. As a consequence of this realization and my religious and spiritual beliefs, I am called to use cannabis for my own spiritual and religious purposes, and also to promote this concept, which is in my view, the true perennial religion.

10. In 1990, I first learned of the many uses of cannabis besides smoking it, (which was clearly a part of the youth culture in which I existed in Canada) such as fiber for clothes, seed for food, oils for paints and fuels and the like. At that time I was living in an area that was caught up in a battle between loggers and environmentalist and with knowledge of how cannabis (in the form of industrial hemp) could change things dramatically because, for example, 50% of trees cut go to the pulp mill and all of this could be replaced by renewable cannabis crops I began to discuss and advocate for the use of cannabis to solve these environmental vs. job issues to all who would hear, forming a small group now as the Patriotic Canadians for Hemp.

11. Simultaneous with these events, the first Gulf War in Iraq began to unfold which initiated a fear in myself and many others that this war could escalate to a global scale. Accordingly, I came to the belief that not only did cannabis for paper offer the solution to the over-logging of Canada’s old growth forests and the conflicts about jobs versus environment in this area, but that it could also provide a viable bio-diesel alternative to the oil deposits that the first Gulf War seemed to be at least partially about.

12. During this period of time, I was working as a night watchman in a West Coast fish plant. One day, in the very early morning hours, I was sitting at the lunchroom table by myself, smoking cannabis and reading the newspaper. That newspaper contained an advertisement from a well known American Evangelist, about an upcoming stadium service and the theme of the sermon tied the then-ongoing Gulf War with Revelations 18 (The Fall of Babylon).

13. I became caught up in the apocalyptic ardor of the moment. I was already deeply influenced by societal imprinting that holds the scenario of Revelations as a deep core belief. I immediately retrieved a Bible from the night watchman’s office and excitedly read through the Book of Revelations. I noted with interest how the Prophet John was given a scroll to eat before prophesying. The scroll tasted sweet in his mouth and turned bitter in his stomach, which I understood then and believe now to be a descriptive of the use of a psychoactive substance. After coming to this understanding, the references to the incense with the prayers of the Saints (Revelation 5:8, 8:3) caught my interest and, finally, I read the end account of the Tree of Life.

14. At this point, I had an epiphany. Divine information-filled light entered my being leaving me with the strong intuitive knowledge and believe that cannabis was the Tree of Life described at the end of the Book of Revelation.

15. The description of the Tree of Life as it is given in Revelation is:

On either side of the River of Life stood the Tree of Life, which bear twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.(Revelation 22:2).

16. Cannabis has well known, numerous and historical industrial uses (i.e. fruits). It has historically been used for spiritual, emotional and physical healing and I am aware that today Canadian residents are able to obtain legal authority to use cannabis for its healing potential pursuant to the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. The seed of the cannabis plant, and oil expressed from that seed, have many nutritional benefits. Cannabis is also harvested every month of the year. Knowing these facts and deeply under the influence of cannabis and the religious experience it provoked in me in the circumstances, I found it impossible to ignore these analogies with the Biblical Tree of Life.

17. The next day, no longer under the immediacy of the cannabis-induced religious experience, my analytical mind began to feel the stirrings of doubt about this intuitive experience. I resolved to research my newfound understanding of cannabis’ place in my theology to determine whether there existed support for my revelation or whether it was simply the product of cannabis’ psychoactive effects.

18. It has been often said that the method of telling a genuine theophany from mere delusion is either by a sudden physical healing or if one is transmitted information which turns out to be true, and which you had no way of knowing in advance. Over eighteen years later, after collecting three massive volumes of documentation and with considerable academic support, I find myself believing in the veracity of my religious experience and the revelations produced by it more today than I did when it originally occurred.

19. Shortly after the initial experience I noted that others had independently accepted and realized this same belief in cannabis being the Tree of Life. For example, references appear throughout Rastafarian texts and music. For some time in the early 1990’s I was involved with a Jamaican group known as the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church which accepted cannabis as the Tree of Life. In or around 1991 I also learned that a church based in Hamilton, Ontario (the Assembly of the Church of the Universe) had a strong foundation of belief in cannabis being the Tree of Life. Shortly afterward, I joined the Church of the Universe as a Reverend and, since then, I have been instrumental to that Church in documenting the religious connotations and connections of cannabis, helping to bring this reality to a wider public and providing evidence that has gained notable academic support.

20. The books I have written on this topic are “Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion” (Access Unlimited, 1995) “Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible” (Forbidden Fruit Publishing, 2001) “Cannabis and the Soma Solution” (Trineday, 2010). These books have gained considerable academic support (both professor Ruck and Professor Littleton aided in content editing of the latest book) and I have spoken on the subject in numerous television and radio interviews, as well as to the print media. I have given lectures on the topic of religious use of cannabis at universities and conferences, and have hosted two international conferences on the use of psychoactive substances (such as cannabis, ayahuasca and peyote) in religious and spiritual contexts.

21. The fact that my spiritual and religious practices are prohibited by the criminal law causes me significant emotional and psychological anguish.

22. I am keenly aware that Canadians are regularly arrested, prosecuted, convicted and incarcerated for possessing and producing cannabis. This causes me significant anxiety. That anxiety is heightened because I am a parent and I fear that if I am arrested and/or jailed for my religious and spiritual practices it will negatively affect my son. The fear of arrest and prosecution is the primary reason that I have not produced cannabis for my own personal use since I became a parent.

23. The use of cannabis for religious and spiritual purposes is a primary component of my spiritual faith and fulfillment. When I use cannabis I connect with the divine and I believe that cannabis’ role is to foster and grow that connection, as well as having the medicinal value to heal the body of man, and through industrial hemp, the larger healing of our ailing planet.

24. I am aware that the Government of Canada exempts some persons, for medical reasons, from the application of the criminal prohibition on possessing and producing cannabis. I am also aware that the Minister of Health has the discretion to exemption persons from the application of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and that his power was used for medical marijuana prior to, and for a time after, the MMAR. Because of my awareness of this existing exemption scheme, I provided the Minister with the following information by making a Statutory Declaration under oath. The information tracks that requested by Health Canada in the MMAR application process. I also provided 2 passport photos certified in the manner that the Government of Canada accepts for the issuance of passports, including a declaration of a guarantor meeting the criteria set out in the Government of Canada passport application process.

a. Name: Christopher Bennett

b. [omitted]

c. Date of Birth: August 28, 1962

d. [omitted]

e. Email: [email protected]

f. My address is a private residence and the mailing address is in care of my counsel (Kirk Tousaw 303 West Hastings Vancouver BC V6B 1H6 (p) 604.684.1420 (e) [email protected]).

g. I consent to allowing Health Canada to exchange personal and medical information about my case with my appointed representative, Kirk Tousaw.

h. The daily amount of cannabis that I consume is seven (7) grams. My primary method of ingestion is by inhalation.

i. I plan to produce and store cannabis at my ordinary place of residence set out in subparagraph (b) above.

j. I plan to produce cannabis entirely indoors. When granted the exemption I will install a home security system. The production site will be segregated from the remainder of the residence and locked by deadbolt. I have deadbolts on the exterior doors of my home at this time. With the exception of my daily needs, I will store dried cannabis inside the locked production facility in a locked container. The cannabis I use will be kept on my person at all times.

k. I declare and con?rm that the dried marihuana will be stored indoors.

l. I am aware that a Notice of Compliance has not been issued under the Food and Drug Regulations concerning the safety and effectiveness of marihuana as a drug. I understand the signi?cance of this fact

m. I consent to using marihuana only for the spiritual purposes stated in this declaration.

n. I am aware that the bene?ts and risks associated with the use of marihuana are not fully understood and that the use of marihuana may involve risks that have not been identi?ed; and I accept those risks.

o. Because my daily cannabis consumption is seven (7) grams per day, I state that I am aware of the potential risks associated with an elevated daily consumption of dried marihuana including risks with respect to the effect on my cardiovascular and pulmonary systems and psychomotor performance, risks associated with the long-term use of marihuana, as well as potential drug dependency and I accept these risks.

p. To reduce the possibility of police intervention when I engage in activities allowed under my exemption, if asked, I permit Health Canada to communicate limited authorization and license information to Canadian police in response to a request in the context of an investigation under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This authorization is only effective if I am issued an exemption pursuant to section 56.

q. I attest, declare and confirm that the information on this declaration is correct and complete.

Also included will be a government report prepared by the department of Justice, which deals with many of these same issues: (click here for working links)


Prepared For The Senate Special Committee On Illegal Drugs

Leah Spicer
Law and Government Division

12 April 2002




Part I – Cultural Uses of Cannabis Throughout the World

A. Historical Origins and Uses of Cannabis
1. China
2. Central Asia
3. Ancient Near East
a. Sumerians
b. Biblical Origins

B. Properties of the Production of Cannabis
1. Climatic Conditions for Cannabis Production
2. Classes of Psychoactive Cannabis Preparations

C. Cultural Uses of Cannabis
1. India
2. Africa
3. South America – Brazil
4. Jamaica
a. Ganja Socialization in the Home and Use Primarily by Males in Lower-Class Working Families
b. Rastafarians
c. Working Class Women in Jamaica

Part II – North American Context of Cannabis Use
A. History of Cannabis in North America
B. Cannabis Use in Canada

Conclusion – The Marijuana Clash in Canada:
A Moral Debate


This paper provides a brief summary of the cultural uses of cannabis throughout history. As far back as the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, the cannabisplant was originally harvested for the fibre from its thick-stemmed girth for use in everything from a ships’ rigging, to the noose that hangmen slipped around the necks of the condemned.([1]) Even today, cannabis is cultivated for similar industrial purposes such as making paper and clothing.

The focus of this paper will be on the much more controversial usage of cannabis. In addition to its production of fibre, the cannabisplant also became known as early as pre-historical times for its thick sticky resin (delta-1-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC([2])), which produces psychoactive effects in humans.

Presently, in some countries this intoxicating resin is illegal (e.g., Canada). Yet, in other countries the use of cannabis is tolerated (e.g., Netherlands). These wandering legalities of cannabisare not rootless and can be best understood with cultural and historical perspectives in mind. As anthropologists and historians have revealed, cultural traditions, climatic differences, medicinal practices, as well as historical, political, legal and economic forces play a large part in the type of role cannabis has in different societies and cultures.([3]) This creates marked cultural differences in uses of the plant as well as the context of its use. For instance, many cultural groups from around the world believe that “the smoking of marijuana is a valuable means of relaxation, introspection, and sociability”([4]) while other cultural groups believe that “marijuana has the immediate effect of producing a burst of energy sufficient for completing laborious tasks.”([5]) The realization that cannabis plays significantly different roles in various cultures is of great significance for Canadians since Canada is a mosaic country containing a cross-section of immigrants from countries throughout the world with varying cultural values regarding cannabis. Recognizing different cultural usages of cannabis is challenging however, because ‘we do not like to see other people defend something we [as Canadians have historically]regard[ed]as morally wrong.’([6]) However such an understanding is important not only for gaining insight into why the cannabis issue has come to a boiling point in Canadian society (as well as many other countries), but also for informing future policy developments on cannabis in Canada.

To begin, this paper gives a brief description of the historical origins of the cultural psychoactive uses of cannabis. Before continuing with further cultural uses of psychoactive cannabis, a description of the climatic growing conditions and the potency levels of psychoactive cannabis is given in order to emphasize that environmental conditions play a significant part in the cultural use of the cannabis plant. Following this is a discussion of the various cultural uses of cannabis in regions such as India, Africa, Brazil and Jamaica. The second half of the paper then discusses the North American and specifically the Canadian cultural context of the use of the cannabis plant, including an examination of the economic, political and legal factors that have influenced its use. It illustrates that Canadian society did not use cannabis for psychoactive purposes until the middle of the 20th century. The paper concludes by emphasizing that since Canadians have recently been exposed to different cultural uses of psychoactive cannabis, knowledge of other cultural uses of cannabis is important for future policy development of the cannabis issue in Canada.


A. Historical Origins and Uses of Cannabis

It is difficult to say exactly where and when the cannabisplant originated. Some believe its origins were in central Asia. Others however, believe that because of its extensive medical and agricultural documentation in ancient Chinese literature, the cannabis plant actually originated in China. “Although the body of literature concerning hemp (cannabis) has grown rapidly in the last decade, the exact origin of the plant has yet to be established; the historical routes of its diffusion remain obscure.”([7])

1. China

Archaeologists discovered an ancient village in China, containing the earliest known record of the use of the cannabisplant. This village dates back over 10 000 years to the Stone Age. Amongst the debris of this village, archaeologists found small pots with patterns of twisted hemp fibre decorating them. This use of the cannabis plant suggests “men have been using the marijuana plant in some manner since the dawn of history.”([8]) Cannabis fibre (hemp) was not only used in China as decoration, but it was also used to make clothes,([9]) ropes, fishing nets([10]) and paper.([11]) It was also important as a food plant and was originally considered one of China’s five cereal grains.([12]) The cannabis plant took on such great importance in the Chinese culture that early priest doctors began using the cannabis plant’s stalk as a symbol of power to drive away evil.

Eventually, when the process of extraction was developed, the Chinese realized the psychoactive use of the oil (resin) from the cannabis seed and applied this to their medicinal practices. The first evidence of the medicinal use of cannabis is found in the book Pên-ts’ao Ching, attributed to the Emperor Shen-nung of about 2000 B.C. Since Chinese medicine has its origins in magic, this book provides records of the Chinese using marijuana both in their medicinal and ritual practices. It was used in cases involving menstrual fatigue, gout, rheumatism, malaria, constipation, and absentmindedness, and to anaesthetize patients during surgical operations.([13]) Other historical therapeutic uses of cannabis that are also emphasized in folk medicine throughout modern Asia include ‘wasting diseases.’ For example, in Thailand, “cannabis is frequently used to stimulate the appetite of sick people and make them sleep… its use to counteract diarrhoea and dysentery is equally common.”([14])

There is debate in Chinese history over the hallucinogenic use of the cannabis plant’s psychoactive properties. Some Chinese denounced marijuana as the “liberator of sin.”([15]) This may have been due to the growing Chinese religion of Taoism in which “anything that contains yin, such as marijuana, was regarded with contempt since it enfeebled the body when eaten. Only substances filled with yang, the invigorating principle in nature, were looked upon favourably.”([16]) However a late edition of the Pen Ts’ao asserted that while “ma-fen (the fruits of cannabis)… taken in excess will produce hallucinations (literally ‘seeing devils’), if it is taken over a long term, it makes one communicate with spirits and lightens one’s body.”([17]) By the first century A.D., Taoists were using cannabis seeds in their incense burners to provide hallucinations that they valued as a means to achieving immortality.

However, by the 8th century A.D. cannabis had fallen into the background as a hallucinogen and opium took on much greater significance as a hallucinogen in Chinese culture. This non-adoption of cannabis as a hallucinogen can be explained on a cultural basis.

Opium is an Euphorica, a sedative of mental activity. Cannabis, on the other hand, is a Phantastica, a hallucinogenic drug that causes mental exhilaration and nervous excitation. It distorts the sense of time and space. Overuse may cause rapid movements… these effects were duly noted by Chinese physicians at least from the second century A.D. or earlier. They were in every respect inconsistent with the philosophy and traditions of Chinese life. The discontinuation of the use of cannabis by the Chinese can perhaps simply be referred to its unsuitability to the Chinese temperament and traditions. The conformity of an individual in Chinese society is regulated by a culturally instilled sense of shame. The Confucian personality is a shame-oriented personality. The adoption of opium and the non-adoption of cannabis reflect a behavioural response to traditional Chinese society. The opium user was more likely to remain pacific and sedated, and thus not challenge social norms. Cannabis, with its stimulating of erratic effects, was likely to induce acts that might bring shame upon the user or his family.([18])

Thus, while the psychoactive properties of cannabis have been cited as used by the Chinese, the value of cannabis in China was primarily as a fibre source. There was, however, a continuous record of hemp cultivation in China from Neolithic times, suggesting that cannabis use may have originated in China, rather than in central Asia([19]) where the origination of cannabis has long been attributed.

2. Central Asia

Many western scholars attribute the origins of cannabis to the Scythians around the 7th century B.C. in and around Siberia, North Central Asia. According to Herodotus, a Greek historian who lived in the fifth century B.C., marijuana was an integral part of the Scythian cult of the dead wherein they honoured the memory and spirits of their departed leaders.([20]) These funeral ceremonies involved the erection of small tents, into which they placed metal censors containing rocks heated from the funeral fires. The Scythians would throw cannabis seeds onto the heated stones to create a thick vapour that they would inhale and become intoxicated. “Seemingly, the purification was the Scythian counterpart to the hard-drinking frazzled Irish wake, with marijuana instead of alcohol as the ceremonial intoxicant.”([21])

This first ethnographic description of ancient peoples inhaling marijuana as a psychotropic stimulant was further confirmed by a Russian archaeologist, Professor S.I. Rudenko in 1929, who discovered that marijuana was also used by the Scythians in everyday life.([22]) Not only did Rudenko come across the embalmed body of a man and a bronze cauldron filled with burnt marijuana seeds, but he also found some shirts woven from hemp fibre and some metal censors designed for inhaling marijuana smoke, which did not appear to be connected with any religious rite. “To Rudenko, the evidence suggested that inhalation of smouldering marijuana seeds occurred not only in a religious context, but also as an everyday activity, one in which Scythian women participated alongside the men.”([23])

As recently as 1993, Russian archaeologists confirmed Rudenko’s theory when they discovered a 2000-year-old woman’s body frozen in a tomb in the same Siberian burial ground where Rudenko had made his first discovery. The female Russian mummy was so well preserved that intricate tattoos were found on her left arm, leading the archaeologists to conclude that she was both a Scythian princess and a priestess. Buried in a hollowed tree trunk, the archaeologists found a few of her possessions buried alongside her, including a small container of cannabis, which ‘archaeologists believe was smoked for pleasure and used in pagan rituals.’([24])

3. Ancient Near East

a. Sumerians

Several cannabis commentators believe that the peoples of the Near East were the first to use cannabis for religious purposes due to man’s inability to engage in introspection.([25]) The theory is that the cannabis plant assisted in giving man the ability for introspection, but that man initially believed his own introspection was actually the gods speaking to him. According to Julian Jaynes, a psychologist who wrote, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, “ancient people from Mesopotamia to Peru could not ‘think’ as we do today, and were therefore not conscious… they experienced auditory hallucinations – voices of gods, actually heard as in the Old Testament or the Iliad – which, coming from the brain’s right hemisphere, told a person what to do in circumstances of novelty or stress.” Terrence McKenna expanded this theory in his book called Food of the Gods, and suggests that, “psychoactive plants, like the psilocybin mushroom and cannabis, acted as catalysts and accelerators for mankind’s transition into consciousness and self reflection. The hallucinations and mystical insights experienced by those who consumed these plants convinced the ancient worshippers that they had come into contact with the divine.”([26])

In an example of this, the Sumerians of the Ancient Near East each developed their own ‘personal deity’ whom they would worship each day by burning cannabis. The Sumerians believed that the daily worship of their personal deity assisted them in earning a living and being courageous in battle. However, commentators believe that this ‘personal deity’ was actually just a “personification of a man’s luck, and his capacity for thinking and acting.”([27]) In other words, cannabis became entrenched into Sumerian religion because they believed it was putting them in touch with their gods. Researchers believe however, that cannabis inhalation was actually just facilitating the Sumerians’ discovery of personal inner thinking.

b. Biblical Origins

There are many contested theories of the appearance of the use of cannabis by peoples of the Near East in the Old Testament. These theories are often challenged as being quite obscure with no clear history.([28]) However as C. Creighton wrote in his article, On Indications of the Hachish-Vice in the Old Testament, “there are reasons… why there should be no clear history. All vices are veiled from view, and that is true especially of the vices of the East. Where they are alluded to at all, it is in cryptic, subtle, witty and allegorical terms. Therefore, if we are to discover them, we must be prepared to look below the surface of the text.”([29])

In Creighton’s text, he asserts that cannabis appears to have been eaten by both Saul and Jonathan in I Samuel 14, 25-45. In Jonathan’s case, the Bible passage is as follows:

And all [they of]the land came to a wood, and dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath. But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath; wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand and dipped it in an honey-comb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.([30])

Creighton asserts that over the years the Hebrew words ‘yagarah hadebash’ have been translated incorrectly into ‘honey comb.’ He says that, “The earlier [translations], however obscure, show that the ‘honey’ was of a peculiar kind”([31]) and that the Syrian version of the text is actually a better account. The Syrian account says that Jonathan dipped his rod in a field of flower-stalks with resinous exudation, which would be produced in times of heat – similar to the behaviour of cannabis resin.

If proof exists that peoples in the Old Testament used cannabis, this in fact predates the belief that the word ‘cannabis’ originated with the Scythians. Like Creighton, commentators such as Sula Benet, Sara Bentowa and Chris Bennett also delve below the surface of the Biblical text to argue that the word cannabis was actually borrowed by the Scythians from Semitic languages such as Hebrew. The word ‘kaneh bosm’ appears several times in the Old Testament([32]) “both as incense, which was an integral part of religious celebration, and as an intoxicant,”([33]) but a specific example sees Moses using it in Exodus 30:23 when God commanded him to make “holy anointing oil of myrrh, sweet cinnamon, kaneh bosm, and kassia.” Benet explains that in this passage the Hebrew definition of kaneh bosm is ‘aromatic reed,’ kan meaning ‘reed’ or ‘hemp,’ while bosm means ‘aromatic.’([34]) The linguistic resemblance of the word ‘kaneh bosm’ to the Scythian word cannabis, and the Hebrew definition of kaneh bosm provide Benet and Bentowa with enough evidence to assert that the intoxicating properties of cannabis were probably first used by the peoples of the Near East and then spread through contact with the Scythians.([35])

Today, there are groups such as The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church who fully believe in the teachings of the Bible and that “marijuana is a godly creation from the beginning of the world… Its purpose in creation is as a fiery sacrifice to be offered to our Redeemer during obligations… Ganja (cannabis) is the sacramental rights of every man worldwide.”([36]) As further confirmation of this belief, they point to the Encyclopedia Brittanica’s section on Pharmacological Cults, which states: “the ceremonial use of incense in contemporary ritual is most likely a relic of the time when the psychoactive properties of incense brought the ancient worshipper into touch with supernatural forces.”([37])

B. Properties of the Production of Cannabis

Before continuing with an outline of several cultural uses of the cannabis plant’s psychoactive properties, it is important to describe the climatic conditions required for growing cannabis since this is an influential factor in the cannabis plant’s production of the psychoactive resin (THC). In addition, it is necessary to clarify that there are different classes of psychoactive cannabis preparations, as well as various cultural names for each class.

1. Climatic Conditions for Cannabis Production

Cannabis is like a weed and will grow almost anywhere. However, its optimum resin-producing environment is in very hot climates where cannabis protects itself from death by producing as much resin as is needed in order to trap in water. “Depending on the conditions under which it grows, cannabis will either produce more resin or more fibre. When raised in hot, dry climates, resin is produced in great quantities and fibre quality is poor. In countries with mild, humid weather, less resin is produced and the fibre is stronger and more durable.”([38]) Thus, since Europe has milder, humid weather, it is not surprising that “most Europeans knew very little of the intoxicating properties of cannabis until the 19th century when hashish was imported from India and the Arab countries.”([39]) Prior to the 19th century, most Western countries used the cannabis plant only as a source of fibre.

2. Classes of Psychoactive Cannabis Preparations([40])

The cannabis plant has two significant varieties that were catalogued in 1753 by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. The most common is cannabis sativa, which is gangly, loose-branched, can reach a height of twenty feet and is productive of fibre and inferior seed oil. Cannabis indica grows to three or four feet in height, is densely branched, shaped like a pyramid and yields higher quantities of intoxicating resin.([41]) There are three separate resin potency levels in cannabis plants, subject to which part of the plant is used. Each potency level has a different name dependent upon cultural language.

Mild Potency: Marijuana (Europe and North America), Mariguango (Mexican) Dagga (South Africa), Kif (North Africa), Bhang (India):

The flowering leaves of ripe male and female hemp plants secrete a sticky resin which is the source of all, or almost all, of the THC (delta-1-tetrahydrocannabinol, the ingredient which reproduces in man all the mind-altering effects that follow smoking or eating marijuana or hashish) in cannabis. In this form of cannabis use, the leaves and sometimes the stems and even seeds or entire plants are ground up and smoked or baked into cookies. The potency varies with the THC content. Bhang is a little different as it usually involves only leaves, is drunk and is usually somewhat richer in THC than North American marijuana.

Intermediate Potency: Ganja (India):

The dried flowering tops of cultivated plants are covered with THC as a result of not having released their seeds. These are harvested and used in ‘ganja.’ Ganja is usually smoked, however it is also drunk, or baked into sweets. Outside of India, it is virtually unknown.

High Potency: Charas (India), Hashish (Arabia and North America), Hashishi (Syria):

Almost all of the THC is contained in the resin on the leaves near the flowering tops. The resin is scraped off of the leaves, pressed into blocks, and usually smoked. Hashish is about 10 times as powerful as marijuana and is the only cannabis derivative that has the capacity to produce hallucinogenic and psychotomimetic effects with any regularity. An Indian pharmacologist, Chopra, has described another method of harvesting charas: Sometimes men, naked, or dressed in leather suits or jackets, passed through the fields of cannabis sativa rubbing and crushing roughly against the plants early in the morning just after sunrise when a fall of dew has taken place. The resinous material that sticks on is then scraped off them and forms the charas resin of commerce.

Other common names for cannabis include grifa in Spain and Mexico; anascha in Russia; kendir in Tartar; konop in Bulgaria and konope in Poland; momea in Tibet; kanbun in Chaldea; dawamesk in Algeria; liamba or maconha in Brazil; and bust or sheera in Egypt.([42])

C. Cultural Uses of Cannabis

1. India

Cannabis has always been a customary part of life in India, and was “intimately associated with magical, medical, religious, and social customs in India for thousands of years.”([43]) This may partially be due to India’s semi-arid climate, perfect for growing an abundance of cannabis.

According to legend found written in a collection of four holy books called the Vedas, an Indian god named Siva is described as The Lord of ‘Bhang,’ the drink made of cannabis leaves, milk, sugar and spices. Historically and continuing today, “bhang is to India what alcohol is to the West.”([44]) Orthodox Hindu rules have traditionally prohibited the use of alcohol except for the warrior Rajput caste who, despite the rules, indulge in alcohol. For Members of the Brahmin caste, cannabis was unequivocally sanctioned for social use in order to help achieve the contemplative spiritual life they strive to lead. According to one historian of cannabis, even in the 1940’s bhang was integral to social activities including special festivities and in the home.([45]) In special festivities such as weddings, it was said that a father must bring bhang to the ceremonies to prevent evil spirits from hanging over the bride and groom. Bhang was also a symbol of hospitality. “A host would offer a cup of bhang to a guest as casually as we would offer someone in our home a glass of beer. A host who failed to make such a gesture was despised as being miserly and misanthropic.”([46])

Cannabis is also renowned in India for its use in the Tantric religious yoga sex acts. About an hour before carrying out the yoga ritual, the devotee would put a bowl of bhang before him and after reciting a mantra to the goddess Kali, the devotee would drink the bhang potion. “The goal of the Tantra initiate was to achieve unity of mind, body, and spirit through yoga and marathon sexual episodes. This was fuelled by bhang, which heightens the experience.”([47])

The most potent Indian preparation of cannabis called ‘charas’ has the same religious importance to many Hindus that wine has to Christians celebrating the Eucharist. The Hindu mystics who smoked charas in the prayer ceremony called Puja especially favoured charas.([48]) As well, the holy men called ‘fakirs’ who were famous for walking on hot coals and sleeping on beds of nails, believed that charas put them in closer communion with their gods.([49])

While the cannabis plant’s pre-eminence in India was, and continues to be its association with religious life and as a social lubricant, cannabis was also used as a medicinal aid. In Indian folk medicine, hemp boughs were thrown into fires in order to overcome evil forces. Sushruta, a legendary physician of ancient India, recommended it to relieve congestion, a remedy for diarrhoea and as an ingredient in a cure for fevers.([50]) A number of years later, when the Indian Hemp Drug Commission of 1893-1894 heard testimony from hundreds of both native and Western doctors about the cannabis plant’s therapeutic uses in treatment of everything from cramps and headaches to bronchitis and diabetes as well as its use as an analgesic for toothaches and anaesthetic for minor surgeries, the Commission realized that “hemp drugs appear now to be frequently used for precisely the same purposes and in the same manner as was recommended centuries ago, [and]many uses of these drugs by native doctors are in accord with their application in modern European therapeutics. Cannabis must be looked upon as one of the most important drugs of Indian material medica.”([51])

Despite the fact that the Indian Hemp Drug Commission rejected total prohibition of cannabis because of its importance in medicine as well as in cultural rituals and traditions, in 1896 the British Indian Government passed Act XII to discourage the habitual use of cannabis and its use as an intoxicant. The Act requested that state governments improve their local excise systems. Later in 1930 the Dangerous Drugs Act was passed, empowering state governments to make rules permitting and regulating the inter-state import and export from the territories under their administration, the transport, possession and sale of manufactured drugs (which included medicinal cannabis).([52]) While there continued to be no national legal provisions for the control of the cannabis plant, the India national government persisted in pressing state governments to discourage the use of cannabis. By 1964 India had both signed and ratified the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 and then in 1985 the cultivation, possession, use and consumption of any mixture of cannabis came to be prohibited with severe penalties by the national government of India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Today, although cannabis continues to be an integral element of cultures in India, the laws seem to have succeeded in discouraging its use. “From the numerous popular stories that are current among the people, it would appear that the habitual use of cannabis existed on a much more extensive scale in India in past centuries.”([53])

2. Africa

The cultural use of cannabis is widespread throughout Africa. While the plant is not indigenous to Africa, several traditions of religious, medical and recreational cannabis smoking have developed since its introduction to Africa over six centuries ago.

Aside from Egypt, where cannabis has been grown for over a thousand years due to the influence of India and Persia, the first archaeological evidence of cannabis in central and southern parts of Africa comes from 14th century Ethiopia where two ceramic smoking-pipe bowls containing traces of cannabis were discovered.([54]) Researchers hypothesize that since cannabis was outlawed in Egypt in the 3rd century A.D. and was punishable by religious law and judicial authorities, several Muslim communities who wanted to continue to grow cannabis migrated south and introduced cannabis to Ethiopia.([55]) Researchers also believe that later on, around 1500 A.D., the fully developed trade routes between Arabia, Turkey, India and Persia with the East African coast, permitted the Arab traders to introduce cannabis to the more southern parts of Africa.([56])

While Arab traders and North Africans brought cannabis to the central and southern parts of Africa, they did not import techniques of psychoactive cannabis use. For the Hottentot tribe of the Cape of Good Hope, “the simple but efficacious practice of throwing hemp plants on the burning coals of a fire and staging what might today be called a ‘breathe-in’ seems to have been popular initially.”([57]) The King of another tribe called the Kafirs, also of the Cape of Good Hope, administered cannabis through beverages very similar to the Indian ‘bangue.’ “Those the chief desired to entertain were offered food and intoxicating spirits which they must drink, although against their stomach, not to condemn the king’s bounty.”([58])

Eventually, by 1705, the Hottentots learned the art of smoking. The habit of smoking cannabis, which many tribes called ‘dagga,’ spread from tribe to tribe quite quickly. The primary method in which southern and central African tribes learned of smoking dagga was through their trading relations with the nomadic ‘San’ tribe hunters. “The hunters were addicted to smoking and so in exchange for tobacco and dagga they supplied feathers, game, and other products collected in the hunt.”([59]) Learning the art of smoking dagga altered African culture from chewing to smoking, and elaborated the techniques of dagga consumption.([60]) Several different pipes began to be developed out of gourds, bamboo stalks and coconut bowls. When smoking cannabis reached the northern areas of Africa, “it was the North Africans who developed the water pipe, which cooled and to some degree purified the smoke.”([61]) North African tribes referred to cannabis under the name kif in this apparatus.

There are several examples of how cannabis took on different prominent symbols in African tribes. In North Africa, “music, literature and even certain aspects of architecture have evolved with cannabis-directed appreciation in mind. Some homes actually have kif rooms, where family groups gather to sing, dance, and relate histories based on ancient cultural traditions.”([62])

A researcher visiting the Congo, discovered that around 1888, the King of the Balubas tribe, which had conquered several tribes near it with similar rituals,

ordered all the ancient idols and fetishes of conquered territories to be publicly burned. He realized that a multiplicity of tribal gods would hardly serve as a unifying force, so he acted to strengthen his lordship and bind his subjects into one ‘nation’ by replacing the old idols with a new and more powerful one – Cannabis!([63])

Thus for the Balubas tribe, cannabis took on ritualistic importance on state and feast days and as an evening pastime.

Cannabis was also incorporated into many African tribes’ religious and magical beliefs. The Bashilenge was a religious cult that developed out of several small clubs of hemp smokers who had their own plots of land for the cultivation of hemp.

Each tribesman was required to participate in the cult and show his devotion by smoking as frequently as possible. They attributed universal magical powers to hemp, which was thought to combat all kinds of evil and they took it when they went to war and when they travelled. The hemp pipe assumed a symbolic meaning for the Bashilenge somewhat analogous to the significance that the peace pipe had for American Indians. No holiday, no trade agreement, no peace treaty was transacted without it.([64])

The Bashilenge tribe also made cannabis an important part of their jurisprudence.

Any native accused of a crime was required to smoke dagga until he either admitted his crime or lost consciousness. In cases of theft, the robber had to pay a fine, consisting of salt, to each person who witnessed his smoking. The crime of adultery required that the guilty male smoke dagga as well. However, there was no fine. The amount of dagga to be smoked depended on the status of the man who had been cuckolded. If the latter were important, the guilty man had to smoke until he lost consciousness. He would then be stripped, pepper would be dropped into his eyes and/or a thin ribbon would be drawn through his nasal bone.([65])

Several tribes such as the Zulu and the Sothos were known to smoke cannabis prior to going to war. “Young Zulu warriors were especially addicted to dagga and under the exciting stimulation of the drug were capable of accomplishing hazardous feats.”([66]) There are those historians who also believe that the Zulus were intoxicated with dagga when they attacked the Dutch at the Battle of Blood River in 1838.([67]) Similarly, the Sothos tribe used dagga to strengthen their spirits prior to an onslaught.

Besides for Northwest Africa where “cannabis either was not introduced or was not accepted until after the Second World War”([68]) African tribes throughout the rest of the continent also used cannabis in folk traditional medicinal practice. “The plant was used as a remedy for snake bite (Hottentots), to facilitate childbirth (Sotho), and among Africans of Rhodesia as a remedy for anthrax, malaria, blackwater fever, blood poisoning, and dysentery. It was also famous in relieving the symptoms of asthma.”([69])

Africa became a country of cannabis cultures long before the arrival of Europeans. Despite the Europeans’ attempts to outlaw the psychoactive use of cannabis, it continues to be deeply ingrained in the cultures of several African tribes.

3. South America – Brazil

In 1549, the French and the British imported Angolan slaves from the southwest coast of Africa to work as labourers on the sugar plantations of northeastern Brazil. “The slaves carried the seeds in cloth dolls tied to their ragtag clothing. The planters permitted slaves to grow their maconha between the rows of cane, and to smoke and dream during the periods of inactivity between harvests. But the planters stuck to their perfumed cigars.”([70]) Many planters felt that allowing their slaves to smoke marijuana, encouraged them to work hard.([71])

Cannabis came to be regarded in Brazil as the opium of the poor, used for cordage and clothing, comestible and spice, energizer and invigorant, as well as medicine and euphoriant.([72]) This pattern of cannabis use replicated a pattern that Vera Rubin calls the “ganja complex.” “Except for ritual purposes involving members of the priestly class, regular multipurpose use in the folk stream has been generally confined to the lower social classes: peasants, fishermen, rural and urban artisans and manual labourers.”([73])

Upper class use of cannabis in Brazil was not unheard of however. In 1808, the Portuguese Royal Court, threatened by Napoleon’s invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, escaped from Portugal to Brazil, settling in Rio de Janeiro. The Court spent approximately six years in Brazil, returning to Portugal at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1817, Queen Carlota Joaquina, wife of Emperor Don Joao VI, King of Portugal and Brazil, was dying. She asked her favourite Angolan slave who accompanied her back to Portugal from Brazil to “bring an infusion of the fibres of damba do amazonas, with which we sent so many enemies to hell.” The slave made an infusion of cannabis and arsenic and gave it to her. “Upon taking the infusion, Dona Carlota felt no pain while dying because of the analgesic action of diamba.”([74]) With this account, there are some anthropologists who believe that it was actually the Portuguese Court who introduced cannabis to Brazil during their short stay.

Whether it was the Angolan slaves or the Portuguese Court who introduced cannabis to Brazil, there are indications that smoking marijuana was also observed among the Indians during the Colonial period.([75]) The Catimbo Indians used marijuana in their own practices in order to receive spirits to cure sick people. An influence of the African Angolan practices led the Catimbo to also use marijuana to induce divination, revelation of secrets and mystic hallucinations.

In the 19th century the use of marijuana was prohibited in Rio de Janeiro. However, the prohibition was not enforced in the provinces where smokers continued to enjoy marijuana use and began growing their own plots next to their houses for personal use.([76]) Often cannabis was used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes: “usually, a preparation of tea, mixed with marijuana leaves is swallowed by the patient to relieve rheumatism, “female troubles,” colic and other common complaints such as toothaches in which marijuana is packed around the aching tooth.”([77])

Near the beginning of the 20th century, the ‘ganja complex’ had fully developed and many lower class individuals were smoking marijuana both in rural areas and within the cities. Groups of canoemen and fishermen as well as other lower-class Brazilians gathered together on a weekly basis for sessions of collective smoking. This custom, was called Club de Diambistas([78]) in which the primary goal was the search for psychedelic experiences.([79]) It was also smoked in the military barracks and in the prisons, to alleviate boredom and despair.([80])

4. Jamaica

Cannabis did not take root in Jamaica until the mid-nineteenth century when East Indian indentured labourers were brought over by the British to work in Jamaica.([81]) Eventually, their knowledge of the cannabis plant and methods of smoking cannabis, or ‘ganja,’ diffused to the black working class.

While cannabis is presently officially illegal in Jamaica, ‘cannabis is integrated with many dimensions of Jamaican culture and is governed by social rules that guide its use and inhibit abuse.’([82]) For Jamaicans, ganja is thought of not only as a recreational drug, but certain cross-cultural groups within Jamaica also view it as an herb that has both religious and medicinal value. Anthropological studies have shown that the use of ganja in Jamaica is extraordinarily widespread.([83]) It is possible to recognize three major groups who use it in culturally varied ways. First and traditionally, lower-class Jamaicans are socialized to the uses of ganja at a very young age because of its domestic use in the home. In addition, young children become exposed to their fathers social use of ganja. Secondly, members of the Rastafarians, a politico-religious movement in Jamaica, use ganja as a religious sacrament. Thirdly and most recently, perhaps due to the growth of Rastafarianism, it is no longer unusual to see Jamaican women smoking ganja in the manner of their male counterparts.

a. Ganja Socialization in the Home and Use Primarily by Males in Lower-Class Working Families

Through the ingestion of teas and tonics in herbal remedies, all young children in lower-class working families in Jamaica have at one time or another been exposed to ganja. This social strata of Jamaican society holds the belief that ganja helps to ‘maintain good health and prevent illness and is therapeutic for a variety of complaints including upper respiratory infections, asthma, intestinal problems, glaucoma, gonorrhea, wasting due to malnutrition, and infant diarrhea, endemic fevers, discomfort of teething, and skin burns and abrasions.’([84]) Although the child may have been well aware of the basic ingredient of the teas or tonics, the child never heard the ganja ingredient spoken of by any of the family members because “an aura of secretiveness often surrounds this ordinary practice.”([85])

Subsequently in a youngster’s adolescent years, even though young boys were cautioned against it, they would often be introduced to smoking ganja by their older peers, who had discovered that their fathers were regular smokers. Not to take part in smoking ganja classified the non-smoker as an outsider because it was symbolic of courage, and of crossing the line from child to man, as well as a sign of friendship and trust.

On one level, smoking the substance is considered adventurous by the adolescent boy: by participating in an illegal practice, even though it is widespread among his elders, the young smoker believes he is demonstrating courage, defiance, and, most importantly, manhood. In subtle ways, the smoking of ganja is considered by the young almost as a rite de passage, an audacious act signifying transition from adolescence to maturity. On another level, particularly for males from the lowest socio-economic rung of the society, smoking symbolizes camaraderie, equality, and belonging; it is a sign of friendship and trustworthiness.([86])

Not all boys become regular smokers however. To become a regular ganja smoker is dependent on the boy’s reaction to his first experience, and this is determined by the boy himself, as well as his peers through a culturally standardized ‘vision.’ During the first ganja smoking experience, the boy is supposed to see a little dancing person or creature, symbolizing a positive ganja smoking experience. If a boy’s peers decide that he did not see the vision, they say “he doesn’t have the head for it” and this means the boy had a negative ganja smoking experience.([87]) Although a negative experience has the potential of giving the boy social marginality, it is not entirely detrimental, since members of the Jamaican middle and upper class have traditionally disapproved of ganja smoking and considered it illegal. Those who did not participate in ganja smoking had much better chances for upward social mobility.([88])

When working-class men establish their own households in their twenties, regular users of ganja plant their own supply in an inconspicuous place near their homes. Unlike in younger years when ganja smoking was a central part of social life, at this stage ganja smoking becomes “a natural part of the daily round, an almost unnoticed routine at work parties, lunch breaks, evening visits, and the like.”([89]) Ganja is valued for its ability to increase work capacity, specifically manual labour. The working-class man believes that regular doses of ganja build his blood as well as his strength. In addition, ganja provides immediate bursts of energy.([90])

Traditional ganja smoking at the working-class level is thus highly based on customary behaviour depending on age, peers and work. Sex could also be another category since traditionally, the female ganja smoker was rare and considered disreputable.([91])

b. Rastafarians

The Rastafarian cult, unique to Jamaica, is a movement whose members believe that Haile Selasssie, Emperor of Ethiopia, is the Black Messiah who appeared in the flesh for the redemption of all Blacks exiled in the world of White oppressors. For Rastafarians, Ethiopia is the Promised Land where Black people will be repatriated through a wholesale exodus from all Western countries where they have been slaves.([92])

The Rastafarian movement began to take shape around 1930-33. In 1940, Leonard Howell launched the doctrine of the Rastafarian movement and recruited a large following (between 500-1600 people) to join him in the hills of St. Catherine, overlooking Kingston where he would not be harassed by the police for the radical principles of his doctrine.([93]) Howell became leader of this cult known as “Ethiopian Salvation Society” at the commune called “Pinnacle.” For a living, the people of the commune grew cash crops, including the ganja herb. Many Rastafarians continue to be ganja farmers today.

Ganja became a predominant symbol in the Rastafarian movement and its use became a religious sacrament. Even today, it is believed that ganja is a holy herb and when inhaled, it allows the Rastafarian to ‘loosen up’ his head and truly perceive himself as a Black person without the pre-conditioned forces of European society. This in turn permits the revelation that Haile Selassie is truly their God and Ethiopia, the home of the Blacks.([94])

The herb is the key to new understanding of the self, the universe, and God. It is the vehicle to cosmic consciousness; it introduces one to levels of reality not ordinarily perceived by the non-Rastafarians, and it develops a certain sense of fusion with all living beings.([95])
In defence of the belief that cannabis forms part of their heritage, Rastafarians cite several sections of the Bible. They believe that “God who created all things made the herb for human use” and will cite Genesis 1:12 as their proof text:([96])

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Rastafarians also cite the following sections of the Bible as further proof that their use of cannabis is legitimate:([97])

…thou shalt eat the herb of the field. (Genesis 3:18)
…eat every herb of the land. (Exodus 10:12)
… Better is a dinner of herb where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. (Proverbs 15:17)
…He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man. (Psalm 104:14)
Ganja smoking was also a symbol of protest for the Rastafarians against the Jamaican establishment and representative of the Rastafarians freedom from Jamaican laws.

Although Haile Selassie passed away in 1975, ganja continues to be an ideological symbol for Rastafarians and continues to be used in the Rastafarian faith to reinforce their liberating ideology.([98])

c. Working Class Women in Jamaica

Although traditionally it was socially inappropriate for women to smoke ganja, the present situation in Jamaica shows that the number of women who smoke cannabis in a similar recreational manner to their male counterparts has increased dramatically.([99]) This may be due to the influence of Rastafarianism or possibly due to men’s lack of ability to provide support to women and children due to the harsh economy. “When there are no benefits for conforming to the social norms, social rules tend to be observed less stringently.”([100])

There are a widespread number of views amongst Jamaican women regarding ganja smoking. Similar to Western medical belief, many Jamaican women believe that it is especially harmful to smoke ganja while pregnant. However a number of other Jamaican women believe that ganja smoking actually aids the mother’s care-taking abilities as well as the health of both the baby and the mother.([101]) In a study carried out in Jamaica in 1980 of 30 ganja smoking pregnant women and 30 non-ganja smoking pregnant women it was found that ganja smoking was indeed beneficial for both mother and baby.([102])

Of significance in relation to cultural uses of cannabis, the study showed that rather than acting as a recreational outlet, ganja smoking helped the pregnant women to deal with the difficulties of pregnancy in a society where, multiple pregnancies are common, families are often in financial difficulty and women must continue to perform hard labour throughout their pregnancy.

For many women, ganja was seen as an option that provided a solution to problems during pregnancy such as loss of appetite, nausea, and fatigue. Ganja helped to increase their appetites, control and prevent the nausea of pregnancy, assist them to sleep, and give them the energy they needed to work. For women who are responsible for the full support of their households and who need to accomplish work while not feeling well, ganja smoking is an available and inexpensive solution to this problem. The women with several pregnancies, in particular, reported that both social and private smoking alleviated the feelings of depression and desperation attending motherhood in their impoverished communities.([103])
Melanie Dreher illustrates in her study that ganja smoking not only has become a recreational activity for many women who decide to breach lower-class social norms it also has a symbolic meaning attached to it for many pregnant women in Jamaica.


A. History of Cannabis in North America

While there is strong historical evidence illustrating that the psychoactive properties of cannabis have been used as part of cultural practices of several societies throughout the world, it is unclear when the psychoactive properties of cannabis were discovered in North America. Some scholars believe that cannabis probably existed in North America long before the Europeans arrived. In Chris Bennett’s book Green Gold: Marijuana in Magic and Religion he says, “there is some very good physical evidence that indicates cannabis played a part in some of the native cultures prior to the arrival of Columbus.”([104]) In 1985, Bill Fitzgerald discovered resin scrapings of 500-year-old pipes in Morriston, Ontario containing “traces of hemp and tobacco that is five times stronger than the cigarettes smoked today.”([105]) Other archaeological evidence includes stone and wooden pipes and hemp fibre pouches that were found in the Ohio Valley from about 800 A.D.([106])

Elders of some North American native tribes can also remember their ancestors using cannabis in a ritual manner. According to Richard L. Lingeman in his book Drugs from A to Z, a 79 year old member of the Cinco Putas tribe in California recalls his grandmother’s daily ritual when he was a small child. She took some cannabis flower tops out of an intricately carved box then rolled it in handmade corn paper. She held the resulting ‘joint’ upright in front of her and, watching the rising swirled smoke, prayed: “Oh thank-you Great Mother!” for each of the gifts the day had brought, as well as thanks for her present relaxation.([107])

Even today, there are some North American tribes, especially those from Mexico, who have used cannabis as sacred gift under the name Rosa Maria or Santa Rosa, and continue to use it today.

Indians in the Mexican states of Veracruz, Hidalgo, and Puebla practice a communal curing ceremony with a plant called Santa Rosa, identified as cannabis sativa, which is considered both a plant and a sacred intercessor with the Virgin. Although the ceremony is based mainly on Christian elements, the plant is worshipped as an earth deity and is thought to be alive and to represent a part of the heart of God.([108])

However, some scholars are doubtful that cannabis was an integral part of the cultures of North American native tribes. “With few exceptions, cannabis has not penetrated significantly into many native religious beliefs and ceremonies.”([109]) These scholars believe that the cultivation of cannabis in the New World originated by its introduction through white settlers. Even if North American natives had been using cannabis prior to White man’s arrival “unfortunately much of the religion and culture of the aboriginal peoples of the western hemisphere was destroyed or driven underground by the European invaders.”([110])

Hence, there is little evidence that the natives of the continent introduced the white settlers to the cannabis plant or its psychoactive properties. The earliest known evidence is that Louis Hebert, Champlain’s apothecary, introduced the cannabis plant to North American white settlers in 1606. However, the white settlers did not discover the psychoactive properties of cannabis until the end of the 19th century. Rather, the cannabis plant was widely grown across North America for its use as a fibre in clothing and cordage and to provide sails and rigging for ships. The pilgrims also planted hemp soon after its introduction, and used it to cover their wagons.

Colonial governments realized quite quickly the profits that could be made from the production of cannabis fibre (hemp). King James I commanded the American colonists to produce hemp, and later in 1619, the government of the colony of Virginia imposed penalties on those who did not produce cannabis, and awarded bounties for cannabis culture and manufacture.

Similar attempts to stimulate the industry occurred in Eastern Canada as well. Hemp was grown under the French regime, and was the first crop to be subsidized by the government. In 1801, the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada distributed hemp seeds to farmers. Later, in the 1820’s, a gentleman by the name of Edward Allen Talbot, Esq., wrote Five Years’ Residence in the Canadas. He believed that if Canada produced enough hemp to supply Britain, this would end their dependence on a foreign power and greatly benefit Canadian settlers. In 1822, the provincial parliament of Upper Canada allocated 300 pounds for the purchase of machinery to process hemp and 50 pounds a year over the next three years for repairs. The 1823 budget also offered incentives to domestic producers. Mr. Fielding, Finance Minister said that there was a market in Canada and with some government encouragement a mill could be established in Manitoba to draw from crops in the vicinity. There were six hemp mills in Canada at the time, and the government financed a seventh, the Manitoba Cordage Company. Near the end of the 19th century however, cannabis production became overshadowed by cotton production since it was less labour intensive. Even with the invention of a new machine in 1917 to make it easier to separate cannabis fibre from the internal woody core, cannabis fibre production did not rise in production again. The new petroleum based synthetic textile companies and the large and powerful newspaper/lumber barons saw hemp production as a threat to their businesses. Thus in 1937, the United States enacted the Marijuana Tax Law, and levied an occupational excise tax upon cannabis fibre producers. The Canadian government, following the American lead, also prohibited production under the Opium and Narcotics Act on 1 August 1938.

Between the years of 1840-1900 cannabis was also used in medicinal practice throughout North America. During this time, more than one hundred papers were published in the Western medical literature recommending it for various illnesses and discomforts. The first physician to introduce cannabis to Western medicine was W.B. O’Shaunghnessy of Scotland. He introduced cannabis to Western medicine in 1841 after observing its use in India and performing experiments on animals to satisfy himself that it was safe for human use. Soon after its introduction to North America, physicians began to prescribe cannabis for a variety of physical conditions such as rabies, rheumatism, epilepsy, tetanus and as a muscle relaxant. Cannabis became so common in medicinal use that eventually, cannabis preparations were sold over the counter in drug stores.

In 1860, the first American Governmental Commission study of cannabis and health was conducted. Dr. R. R. M’Meens reported the findings of the Commission to the Ohio State Medical Society. M’Meens found that, cannabis effects are less intense than opium, and the secretions are not so much suppressed by it. Digestion is not disturbed; the appetite rather increases; the whole effect of hemp being less violent, and producing a more natural sleep, without interfering with the actions of the internal organs, it is certainly often preferable to opium, although it is not equal to that drug in strength and reliability.([111])

Up until the early 1890’s doctors continued to find cannabis valuable for treatment of various forms of neuralgia especially treating migraine attacks, epilepsy, depression and sometimes for asthma and dysmenorrhoea. Some doctors such as H.A. Hare also recommended cannabis to subdue restlessness and anxiety and distract a patient’s mind in terminal illness. Dr. Hare believed cannabis was as effective a pain reliever as opium.

However, the 1890’s also found some doctors suggesting that the potency of cannabis preparations was too variable, and individual responses to orally ingested cannabis seemed erratic and unpredictable. “Cannabis Indica has fallen considerably in the estimation of the profession, both in the old country and in this, due no doubt to its variability and often noticeable uncertainty of action.”([112]) In addition, since the invention of the hypodermic syringe in the 1850’s, there was an increased use of opiates and soluble drugs that could be injected for faster pain relief. Cannabis was difficult to be administered by injection because it is highly insoluble. Chemically stable drugs such as aspirin, chloral hydrate and barbiturates were also developed at the end of the 19th century. And while barbiturates were found to be quite dangerous, and many people died from aspirin induced bleeding, cannabis continued to fall out of practice as a medicine.

Simultaneously, as cannabis began to fall out of practice as a medicinal drug, its use as a recreational hallucinogen was realized in the United States. In 1916, Puerto Rican Soldiers and Americans stationed in the Panama Canal Zone were reported to have been using marijuana, and military authorities did not enforce its disuse because they did not feel it was as harmful as drinking alcohol. But medical experts began to “consider cannabis as a narcotic, implying the dangers of overdose and habit… and saw it as an aphrodisiac, adding sexual excitement or uncontrollability to its detriments.”([113])

In 1915 California became the first state to make it illegal to possess cannabis. By the 1920’s marijuana had become a major ‘underground drug,’([114]) traced to an influx of Mexican workers into the Southern United States in the 1910’s and 1920’s.([115]) Subsequent use was apparently largely confined to lower class ethnic minority groups, with a high proportion of urban-dwelling Afro and Spanish Americans among the known users. “When Mexican labourers introduced marijuana smoking to the United States, it spread across the south, and by the 1920’s, its use was established in New Orleans through its importation from Havana, Tampico, and Veracruz by American and Mexican sailors, and use was confined primarily among the poor and minority groups.”([116]) Later in the 1930’s, “cannabis was the first psychoactive substance (besides alcohol) that became a common subject in modern popular music, with jazz classics from the 1930’s such as Louis Armstrong’s Muggles and Cab Calloway’s That Funny Reefer Man topping the bill of marijuana-inspired fare.”([117])

The recreational spread of cannabis use, especially in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, assisted in enhancing the narcotic classification of cannabis by medical experts at the end of the 19th century. Therefore, medical experts also supported the American Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, as well as the Canadian Opium and Narcotics Act in 1938, both of which not only controlled the cannabis economic industry with prohibitive taxes, but also prevented further experimentation on the medicinal effects of cannabis. Years later in 1954, a new offence was created in Canada for the ‘possession for the purpose of trafficking’ and in 1956, cannabis was also incorporated into the more comprehensive United States Narcotics Act. Internationally, cannabis began to be controlled in 1961 by the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, requiring states to adopt the necessary legislative and regulatory measures in order to limit the production, distribution and use of prohibited substances to medical and scientific purposes. Canada both signed and ratified the convention in 1961 and the United States later acceded to the convention in 1967.

Thus, while white settlers to North America have used cannabis since the early 1600’s, psychoactive usage for purposes other than medicine was not heard of until the 20th century. Before this, priority was placed on the economic viability of cannabis fibre production and later, the cannabis plant’s scientific medicinal uses. By the time North Americans were exposed to other cultural values of cannabis (smoking marijuana), via methods such as travel to other countries and incoming immigrants, cannabis was already well on its way to being considered by the North American laws, of little value. Despite reports that emphasized the harmless effects of smoking marijuana, such as the La Guardia Report published in 1944 by the New York Academy of Medicine, cannabis continued to be proscribed. These laws were not only prohibitive of industrial production and medical research of cannabis, but also prohibitive of the psychoactive use of cannabis that was, and continues to be, an integral part of the cultures that introduced it to North Americans.

B. Cannabis Use in Canada

While people in the United States were introduced to the psychoactive use of cannabis (marijuana smoking) in the early 1900’s by way of ethnic immigrant settlers and contact with other cultures outside of the United States, “there are no reliable accounts of the non-medical use of cannabis in Canada which predate the 1930’s.”([118]) Even between the years of 1930-46 there were only 25 convictions for cannabis possession in all of Canada.([119]) Meanwhile in the United States, several newspapers had begun publishing reports of young people using marijuana. In 1933, Detective L.E. Bowery of the Wichita Police Department claimed “no denial can be made of the fact that marijuana smoking is at present a common practice among the young people of the city, and that it is constantly becoming more prevalent…”([120]) Later, by the early 1960’s

cannabis was well established in many American universities and among many high school aged youths. This may have been due to the American involvement in the Vietnamese War, as well as due to the evolution of the 1960’s hippie psychedelic ethos, the growth of underground newspapers, and the mass media’s attention to the drug.([121])

It was not until the mid-to late 1960s, when this level and type of usage was imitated in Canada. “In 1962 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported only 20 cases connected with cannabis. In 1968 the number of cannabis related cases had risen to over 2300, and in 1972 there were nearly 12000 cannabis convictions in Canada.”([122])

The spread of marijuana use among Canadian youth in the late 1960’s is attributable to an adoption of the American social forces of the psychedelic ‘hippie’ movement. Like their American counterparts, a Canadian ‘counter culture’ began to protest society’s values placed on them and held sit-ins and demonstrations against injustices such as racism, poverty and the lack of women’s rights. One of these demonstrations occurred in 1971 in Vancouver’s Gastown. The event was a ‘smoke-in,’ with a few hundred cannabis activists, and hippies in attendance.([123])

Travel, is another possibility as to how marijuana use spread quickly throughout Canada during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The late 1960’s brought about a time when Canadians followed their fellow American counterparts to regions such as the Far East where they became exposed to different cultural practices of cannabis use in their search for cheap hashish. “Travel and transportation are crucial variables in drug history, just as they are in the history of infectious diseases.”([124])

Thus in part, the increase of marijuana use in Canada during the 1960’s could also be correlated with the increase in numbers of people travelling from other countries to settle in Canada, bringing with them, an array of cultural practices. Until the 1960’s, Canada’s immigration laws prevented immigrants from countries other than Britain, the United States, and Europe from settling in Canada. Moreover, immigrants were expected to shed their distinctive heritage and assimilate almost entirely to existing cultural norms of a ‘white settler’ society. Therefore until this time, contact with cultures that may have used cannabis for purposes other than industrial or medical purposes, was limited.

In 1961 however, Canadian immigration policy changed and since this time people have travelled from their native countries in Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, Central and South America([125]) to come to live in Canada. But while immigration laws were expanded in 1961, the Government continued to expect immigrants to assimilate to the white settler society. It was not until the late 1960’s to early 1970’s when the Canadian hippie movement came into full swing, that

under pressure from immigrant groups, the Canadian government rejected the assimilationist model of immigration, and instead adopted a more tolerant policy (multi-culturalism policy) that allows and indeed encourages immigrants to maintain various aspects of their ethnic heritage. Immigrants were now free to maintain some of their old customs regarding food, dress, recreation, and religion and to associate with each other to maintain these practices. This is no longer seen as unpatriotic or ‘un-Canadian.’([126])

However only certain cultural values of incoming migrants were allowed to exist, while others that conflicted with Canadian ‘common-values’ were ignored. For many migrants who came from societies where cannabis was integral to their culture, this was one practice the Canadian Government would not permit. Such is a form of “legal moralism in which the government intervenes in drug use in the name of its responsibility to preserve common values that are vital to the well-being of society.”([127]) However, the increase in cannabis use throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s illustrates that these ‘common values’ regarding cannabis were beginning to deteriorate and new moral values were permeating the cannabis issue in Canadian society. The transnational movement of an array of cultural values was occurring in Canada, even despite laws that legitimated or prohibited them.([128])

During the period of Canadian social change in the late 1960’s, both by protests from the hippie movement and transnational movement of cultural practices, the Canadian Government seemed prepared to ease up on marijuana prohibition. In the early 1970’s the Le Dain Commission was appointed in Canada to undertake a complete and factual study of marijuana use and its effects. It concluded that, “Canada’s prohibition laws had only served to create a sub-culture with little respect for the law and law enforcement, as well as diverting law enforcement capability, clogging the judicial system, and providing a base of funds for organized crime.”([129]) In 1972, Trudeau added this recommendation to his election platform although his government did not change the marijuana laws after his re-election. As marijuana use continued to steadily grow especially amongst youth throughout the 1970’s, in 1978, yet another report was commissioned on marijuana laws, recommending once again, that marijuana be decriminalized and legalized.([130]) Later in 1979, under the leadership of then Prime Minister Joe Clark, the Progressive Conservative government of 1979-80 gave notice in its Throne Speech that it intended to reform the Criminal Code provisions regarding cannabis, but the Conservative Government was defeated before making these revisions. Meanwhile, a number of regional studies that were conducted in various populations throughout the 1970’s in Canada showed that current use amongst students was fast approaching 25 percent, with 1979 being a peak year where over 30 percent of students in grades 7, 9, 11, and 13 reported use in the previous 12 months.([131]) Youthful cannabis use in the 1970’s could be viewed as a continuation of the epidemic of the sixties.

Despite the 1978 report that advocated the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, in 1979 the Liberal government made the decision to sign the UN’s Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971). The newly elected American Reagan-Bush Administration heavily influenced this decision with its campaign on the ‘War on Drugs.’ By signing the convention, the Canadian Government halted any plans to legalize marijuana([132]) and prevented conflict with their American neighbours.

Throughout the 1980’s the Reagan-Bush administration carried out ‘The War on Drugs’ campaign. In Canada, regular Gallup polls showed evidence that cannabis use was stabilizing and even may have been decreasing in the youth population.([133]) This may have partly been due to several prohibition measures that were enabled by national, provincial and local organizations in order to suppress cannabis use as well as cannabis trade. And although marijuana use in both the United States and Canada had moved from primarily lower class use to use across a spectrum of societies, the non-using population continued to forcefully object to marijuana use because of the lifestyle they associated with it.([134]) Thus, smoking marijuana became more of a private and personal activity, done at home and out of sight of friends, coworkers and family members. In 1987 Canada’s Drug Strategy (1987) was implemented ‘to address both the supply and demand reduction strategies and programs in enforcement, treatment and prevention programming were funded.’([135]) Some say that at the time, this may have been the most severe cannabis censorship strategy in the world.([136])

However, the 1990’s saw a substantial increase in cannabis use across Canada. Between 1993-1994 alone, cannabis use increased from 4.2% to 7.4%.([137]) As well, while 1980’s statistics show that cannabis use was much higher in adult populations between the ages of 30-49 years of age, the 1990’s saw a reverse of this trend in Canada. The statistics for Ontario show that between 1996 and 2000, cannabis use among 18-29 year olds increased from 18% to 28%.([138]) According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Ontario Student Drug Use Survey, this was a result of weakening perceptions of risk of harm and weakening moral disapproval of drug use.([139])

Although increasing acceptance of marijuana use may be attributable to a number of factors, the 1990’s were described as the decade of immigration in Canada, with the average number of immigrants per year remaining well over 200 000 throughout.([140]) Thus once again, just as in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the increasingly permissive attitude of Canadians towards marijuana could potentially be linked to theories of transnational movements of cultural values, therefore leading Canadians to increased exposure and acceptance of different values of marijuana usage. As Kearney suggests, ‘global implosion’ tends to take place when migrants move from their homeland to another nation. They bring with them their cultural practices, which may go through ‘transnational transformations’ as they are adapted to the national culture.([141])

The mid-1990’s also saw the rise of a cannabis decriminalization movement joined by hundreds of recreational smokers who say that Canada’s laws against cannabis are outdated and out of step with the rest of the Western world. Many governments in a number of European countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Spain, have now decided not to prosecute for possession of cannabis for personal use. Despite this, in 1997 the Canadian Government passed the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which prior to its enactment was criticized by The Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, The Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, The Canadian Police Association and The Canadian Bar Association, for its war on drugs approach.([142])

With the enactment of such a heavy-handed law in 1997, which continued the trend of Canadian prohibition of cannabis despite the growing permissive mentality for its use, the past five years have seen the marijuana issue quickly rising to a boiling point. Several Canadians have gone directly to the police and to the courts to challenge what they say are the country’s anachronistic drug laws([143]) and the courts have made decisions in favour of marijuana use for medicinal purposes.

Of significance is the 1997 Terrence Parker case([144]) that ultimately led to Canada’s adoption of a system regulating the medicinal use of marijuana in July 2001. Terrence Parker, who uses marijuana as a means of controlling his epileptic seizures, had been arrested and charged numerous times since 1987 for marijuana possession. However, when he was charged once again in 1997, an Ontario Court judge ruled that people must be able to access necessary medical treatment without fear of arrest. Thus on 10 December 1997 Terrence Parker became the first Canadian to be exempted from further prosecution for possession or cultivation of marijuana.([145]) Later when the case was appealed in 2000, the Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld the decision and said that by making marijuana illegal throughout Canada, Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At this time, the Court ordered the federal government to clarify the rules surrounding medical marijuana. By April 2001 the Federal Government released its proposed solution. After further deliberations, in July 2001 Canada began regulating the medicinal use of marijuana. The regulations allow access to marijuana for symptoms associated with terminal illnesses, for symptoms associated with medical conditions listed in a schedule and for symptoms associated with other medical conditions. The application process differs depending on the symptoms involved.

Also of recent significance are court challenges that have arisen in Canada regarding the religious use of marijuana. In Canada, Ontario’s Church of the Universe has been arguing for the religious freedom to smoke marijuana in various cases since 1989. Since the ruling in the Terrence Parker case, Brothers Tucker and Baldasaro have filed a challenge that the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act is not only unconstitutional for people who need it for medicinal purposes, but also unconstitutional in their continued battle for the recognition of their rights to use cannabis as a sacrament. However, as of 30 January 2002, Ontario’s Church of the Universe had not yet received a court date.

Similar court cases are also occurring in the United States. For instance, in September 2000, the Supreme Court of Guam dismissed criminal charges against a man who claimed that he is a Rastafarian and was importing marijuana for religious use. The Guam Supreme Court concluded that because marijuana was a necessary sacrament of the Rastafarian religion, and because the prosecution failed to justify the burden placed on the practice of the Rastafarian religion by the law against importing marijuana, the importation ban violated Guam’s free exercise protection.([146]) Because Guam is a United States territory, in November 2001 the case was appealed to an American Federal Court in Honolulu where the American Civil Liberties Union argued,

Just as eight states have passed local laws recognizing the usefulness of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the U.S. territory of Guam should be allowed to guarantee individuals the right to use marijuana for religious purposes without fear of federal interference.([147])

The American Court will not likely give a ruling until Spring 2002.

While the argument for the religious use of marijuana has not yet been as successful as the argument for the medical use of marijuana, in 1991, a Canadian Law Reform Commission Report entitled Statutory Criminal Law recommended a study:

to determine whether or not any groups in Canada traditionally make use of controlled drugs in their religious practices. If a need for some mechanism is found in the study, the report recommends that a statutory mechanism for application by religious groups for exemption be adopted. Further, the LRCC report recommends that specific exemptions be granted to individual religions to avoid the uncertainty and litigation inherent in a general broadly worded exemption. It also suggests that an exemption from drug offence legislation only be granted when it is sought by a bona fide religion; the drug used is central to a ceremony or practice of the religion; and its use would not indirectly make the drug more widely available in the general community.([148])
This recommendation by the Law Reform Commission of Canada has not yet been adopted by Canada. Eleven years ago when the study was suggested, this may have been too large of a step in the way of a permissive attitude towards marijuana use for Canadians to take. However, the recent acceptance of marijuana use for medical purposes in Canada does suggest that Canadians are becoming more open-minded to certain valid uses for marijuana.

Such open mindedness to the psychoactive use of cannabis is new to Canada and has only been developing since the 1960’s. Finally, the psychoactive usages of cannabis have reached Canadian soil through Canadians’ exposure to other societies who have known its use for centuries. The past 40 years have seen several different, and fast-paced social developments of psychoactive cannabis users in Canada. The overlapping epidemics of the 1960’s and 1970’s saw the cannabis user as the ‘flamboyant explorer and adventurer([149]) where “young people deserted the suburbs and congregated in costumed array in central city neighbourhoods. In the summertime, they roamed across the country as hitchhiking transients. The media were fascinated by these ‘hippies’ or ‘flower children,’ and sensationalized their drug use.”([150]) The 1960’s and 1970’s saw a steady increase in use especially by youth. However, the 1980’s ‘war on drugs’ era saw a levelling out of cannabis use amongst the youth population, and rather a quiet, but steady increase of use in adults between the ages of 30-49. At this point in time in Canada, studies show that marijuana use “was more frequently reported by single (never married) respondents, people looking for work, and, in the working population, blue-collar workers.”([151]) The 1990’s saw this trend reverse itself, with reports of cannabis use once again steadily increasing amongst those between the ages of 18-29. Between 1996-2000, reports show that for this age range, cannabis use increased from 18.3% to 28.2% with use tending to be highest among those with some post-secondary education and lowest among those with a university degree.([152]) While there is evidence that marijuana smoking is once again becoming a social activity, it is with the worry of protecting oneself from rumours that would refer themselves to as a ‘drug addict.’

Joints are rolled as discreetly as possible, very quickly, and in such as way that they look as much like a cigarette as possible… If there is one thing, however, that is important to young people, it is the image their parents have of them. Rumours spread quickly, and who knows what parents might learn from a neighbour? If they are afraid of police intervention, it is not so much because of the potential risks as it is because they are afraid that the police might burst into the family home. Therefore, they hide from neighbours who could potentially talk with their families, and more readily smoke in public areas where there is less of a chance of running into someone they know.([153])

While there have been fast-paced increases and decreases of marijuana use over the past 40 years in Canada “in retrospect, cannabis usage rates in the late sixties seem modest”([154]) compared to today. For instance, the proportion of ‘past year cannabis users’ aged 30 to 49 years steadily increased from 15.4% to 46.5% between 1977 and 1996.([155])

This growing permissive attitude in Canada of marijuana use was validated in a May 2001 survey. University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby found that 47 percent of Canadians favour the legalization of marijuana, which is up from 31 percent in 1995 and 26 percent in 1975.([156]) There are also many, such as the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the RCMP and the Canadian Medical Association Journal who to varying degrees feel that marijuana should not necessarily be legalized, but at least decriminalized in some manner.([157])

However, in the face of a much more permissive attitude towards marijuana, there are still many Canadians who are of the traditional Canadian mindset that marijuana use should continue to be illegal. Many continue to believe, as the Canadian Police Association has advocated, that legalizing marijuana use will have several serious harmful societal effects including sending the wrong message to youth, facilitating the use of more harmful drugs, contributing to soaring health-care costs, and encouraging driving while high.([158])

The conflict between the growing numbers of Canadians who are taking a more permissive attitude towards marijuana use and those who continue to view the marijuana issue in the traditional Canadian manner is coming to a rapid boil in the 21st century. Distinct values in favour of marijuana use are coming to the foreground in Canada, some of which have already led to a reintroduction of the medicinal use of marijuana. Policy makers, who continue to grapple with future policy development on the controversial marijuana issue, must realize that ‘the moralistic legal vision that has dominated Canadian discourse supporting the maintenance of prohibitions against drugs’([159]) may no longer suffice as more and more Canadians step outside of this common morality.


The first half of this paper studied various cultural values found throughout the world in favour of cannabis use for psychoactive purposes, values often deeply embedded in a culture’s historic rituals and practices. In contrast, the second half of this paper examined North American, and more specifically Canadian, values where there is little history of psychoactive cannabis use and traditionally, most of society opposes the psychoactive use of cannabis. The comparison exemplifies that “the use of cannabis has a different meaning in [many]Eastern cultures where a long history and tradition surrounds its use than it does in the West, where it is a relatively recent phenomenon.”([160])

Cultural differences play a large part in the adoption or non-adoption of marijuana. For example, as mentioned in this paper, the Chinese did not embrace the psychoactive use of cannabis because it was inappropriate in respect of the Chinese temperament and tradition of a shame-oriented personality. They discouraged the use of psychoactive cannabis because they felt it was apt to provoke impulsive acts that might bring shame upon the user or his family. In comparison, anthropological evidence illustrates that several eastern societies actually wanted to adopt the psychoactive use of cannabis for the very reason of its capacity to produce motivational effects, providing increased work capacity (Jamaica) and the ability to win wars (African tribes).

Aside from the recent resurgence of marijuana use for medicinal purposes, Canada has not embraced the psychoactive use of cannabis. Unlike many eastern societies that believe the psychoactive effects of marijuana produce impulsive effects, traditionally, Western culture associates marijuana use with an “introspective, meditative, non-aggressive stereotype”([161]) or the “amotivational syndrome.”([162]) This moral belief developed out of the 1960’s hippie movement use of marijuana. “The public mind often conceives of the marijuana-user as a long-haired hippie”([163]) leading a way of life many believed was irresponsible and lazy. Westerners, who are noted for cultural emphasis on achievement, activity and aggressiveness([164]) tend to associate marijuana use with a life-style and set of values very different from their own.([165])

Cross-cultural comparisons of cannabis use are therefore difficult to apply to the Western situation – Western society views the effects of psychoactive cannabis differently, and this understanding of its effects gives rise to Western moral opposition towards anyone who uses marijuana no matter what the cultural background is for their use of marijuana.([166])

Canadian laws have promoted and tried to protect this moral hegemony since the early 1930’s, but especially during the 1980’s when the American “War on Drugs” campaign began. However as a result of several factors such as the hippie movement in the late 1960’s, travel to other countries, and the transnational movement of cultural practices, Canadians have gained exposure to other cultural values of marijuana use which has resulted in the emergence of new Canadian attitudes towards marijuana, threatening the traditional moral hegemony. “Where the moral issue is not accepted uniformly throughout society, it intensifies conflict.”([167]) Since the early 1990’s, groups of Canadians have been forming a decriminalization movement and questioning traditional Canadian values about marijuana use. The Canadian law, which has upheld these traditional Canadian values and morals towards marijuana use, is facing increasing pressure from the Canadian public’s recognition of other values of cannabis use.

Such is the ‘marijuana clash.’ While on the surface the debate includes scientific arguments regarding the harms or benefits of marijuana, below the surface the debate is actually informed by preconceived cultural morals and values.([168]) In other words, prior to seeking an answer to scientific questions, for instance of marijuana’s desirable or noxious effects, it must first be established whom the question is directed to([169]) because this highly influences the answer. “Our morality ebbs and flows in accordance with our personal ethics, where our ethics are the ideal and morality is the means by which we approach that ideal.”([170]) Therefore, it is only natural that cultural backgrounds obscure answers to scientific questions in regards to marijuana. All sides of the debate can represent and defend their moral position by drawing upon scientific reasoning. Thus “the marijuana controversy is primarily a political, rather than a scientific debate” because it pits morals against morals, that are informed by cultural backgrounds. In turn, the ‘marijuana clash’ involves people in Canada who strive to legitimate their moral positions (defended by scientific reasoning) through the enactment of laws.

As Canadian society has recently, over the past forty years, been exposed to other historical cultural values of psychoactive cannabis uses, one can postulate that this may be the reason why marijuana usage rates in Canada have increased. Whether or not they are aware that their permissive attitude may have developed from exposure to other cultural values of cannabis, many groups have begun to promote these ‘new’ values towards cannabis use in opposition to the traditional Canadian moral position. Thus, it is important for Canadian policy makers to be conscious of other cultural values of psychoactive cannabis use. Canadian policy approaches to marijuana in the 21st century failing to take into consideration the existence of other cultural values towards cannabis in Canada will result in ineffective policies that will simply continue to escalate the moral debate over cannabis use. This does not mean that insight into different cultural values of cannabis use will solve the ‘marijuana clash.’ Rather, it will help to deconstruct the moral conflicts that veil the underlying scientific cannabis question in Canada.

([1]) Stuart Walton. Out of It: A Cultural History of Intoxication. London: Hamish Hamilton Ltd, 2001. p. 96.

([2]) The chemical make-up of the cannabis sativa resin was not discovered until 1964 by an Israeli named Raphael Mechoulam who synthesized the basic chemical properties of the resin. (Solomon Snyder. Uses of Marijuana. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. p. 5.)

([3]) Richard Rudgley. Essential Substances. New York: Kodansha International, 1994. p. 5.

([4]) John Kaplan. Marijuana – The New Prohibition. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1970. p. 17.

([5]) Lambros Comitas. “The Social Nexus of Ganja in Jamaica.” In Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. Chicago: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 129.

([6]) Ibid.

([7]) Sula Benet. “Early Diffusion and Folk Uses of Hemp.” In Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. Chicago: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 39.

([8]) Ibid., p. 4

([9]) Hui-lin Li. “The Origin and Use of Cannabis in Eastern Asia.” Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. Chicago: Mouton & Co., 1975. p. 54. A traditional practice dating back to second century B.C. and still seen today, is that mourners for the dead are required to wear clothes made from hemp fabric.

([10]) Ibid., p. 53.

([11]) Ernest Abel. Marijuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years. New York: Plenum Press, 1980. p. 7.

([12]) Hui-Lin Li. p. 55.

([13]) Abel, p. 12.

([14]) Michael Aldrich. “History of Therapeutic Cannabis.” In Cannabis in Medical Practice. Ed. Mary Lynn Mathre. North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc. Publishers, 1997. p. 36.

([15]) N. Taylor. Narcotics: Nature’s Dangerous Gifts. New York: 1966.

([16]) Abel, p. 13.

([17]) Ibid., p 56.

([18]) Hui-Lin Li, p. 59 and footnote 8 on p. 61.

([19]) Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hoffman. Plants of the Gods – Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers. Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1992.

([20]) Abel, p. 23.

([21]) Ibid.

([22]) Abel, p. 24.

([23]) Ibid.

([24]) Alessandra Stanley. “Tattooed Lady, 2,000 Years Old, Blooms Again.” Special to the New York Times from the Moscow Journal. 12 July 1993.

([25]) Chris Bennett. “When Smoke Gets in My Eye.” Cannabis Culture. April 1995., Bennet discusses several theorists assertions that marijuana assisted man in self-reflection and belief in the divine. This section uses a few of Mr. Bennet’s examples.

([26]) Bennett, p. 3.

([27]) Ibid., p. 5.

([28]) Abel and Sherman, Smith and Tanner believe that there is no valid evidence of marijuana in the Old Testament and that references to ‘kaneh bosm’ are actually references to sugar cane.

([29]) C. Creighton, M.D. “On Indications of The Hachish-Vice in the Old Testament.” Janus. Amsterdam: 1903. p. 1.

([30]) Ibid., p. 3.

([31]) Ibid., p. 2.

([32]) Chris Bennet provides several passages of the appearance of Kaneh Bosm in the Old Testament in his article “The Hidden Story of Cannabis in the Old Testament.”

([33]) Benet, p. 40.

([34]) Benet, p. 40.

([35]) Both Benet and Bentowa put forth arguments as to how Scythians came into contact with the people of the Near East. Benet argues that they were actually Ashkenaz tribe of the Old Testament and Bentowa argues that they were the relatives of the Medes who were neighbours of the people of the Near East.

([36]) The Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church. “Marijuana and the Bible.” Beacon Press, 1988. p. 1.

([37]) Encyclopedia Brittanica, 5th edition, 1978, as quoted in Green Gold The Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic & Religion. p. 95.

([38]) Abel. pp. x-xi.

([39]) Ibid. In order to limit the length of this paper, the History of the cultural uses of cannabis in Europe has been omitted. Suffice it to say that in Europe, the development of the use of cannabis occurred similarly as this paper’s section on the cultural uses of cannabis in North America.

([40]) The chart in this section was taken from Solomon Snyder. Uses of Marijuana. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. pp. 5-7.

([41]) Richard Davenport-Hines. The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics, 1500-2000. London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 2001. p. 3.

([42]) Davenport-Hines, pp. 2-3.

([43]) Michael Aldrich. “History of Therapeutic Cannabis.” In Cannabis in Medical Practice. Ed. Mary Lynn Mathre. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers 1997. p. 36.

([44]) Abel, p. 18.

([45]) Ibid.

([46]) Ibid.

([47]) Ibid.

([48]) Matthews, p. 17.

([49]) Carol Sherman and Andrew Smith with Eric Tanner. Highlights: An illustrated history of cannabis. Toronto: Smith Sherman Books, 1999. p. 17.

([50]) Aldrich, p. 37.

([51]) Ibid., p. 38.

([52]) I. C. Chopra, R. N. Chopra. “The Use of Cannabis Drugs in India.” United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention Publications. 1957/01/01.

([53]) Chopra and Chopra.

([54]) Nikolaas J. Van Der Merwe. “Cannabis Smoking in 13th-14th Century Ethiopia: Chemical Evidence.” In Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. Chicago: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 79.

([55]) Brian M. Du Toit. “Dagga: Cannabis Sativa in Southern Africa.” Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. Chicago: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 83.

([56]) William A. Emboden Jr. “Ritual Use of Cannabis Sativa L.” Flesh of the Gods. Ed. Peter T. Furst. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1972. p. 226.

([57]) Ibid.

([58]) Abel, p. 138.

([59]) Du Toit, p. 94.

([60]) Ibid., p. 139.

([61]) Emboden, p. 226.

([62]) Ibid., p. 227 (Quote of composer and writer Paul Bowles).

([63]) Ibid., p. 226.

([64]) Benet, p. 45.

([65]) Abel, p. 144.

([66]) A.T. Bryant. The Zulu People, cited in T. James, “Dagga: A Review of Fact and Fancy,” Medical Journal 44 (1970): 575-80.

([67]) Abel, p. 142.

([68]) Du Toit, p. 101.

([69]) Michael Aldrich. “Medicinal Characteristics of Cannabis.” Ed. Mary Lynn Mathre. Cannabis in Medical Practice. North Carolina: McFarland & Company Publishers, 1997. p. 41.

([70]) David T. Courtwright. Forces of Habit. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001. p. 41.

([71]) Gilberto Freyer. Nordeste. Rio de Janeiro: Jose Olimpio Editora, 1937.

([72]) Courtwright, p. 41.

([73]) Vera Rubin. “Introduction.” Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 4.

([74]) Harry William Hutchinson. “Patterns of Marijuana Use in Brazil.” In Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. Chicago: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 175.

([75]) Alvaro Rubim De Pinho. “Social and Medical Aspects of the Use of Cannabis in Brazil.” In Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. Chicago: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 294.

([76]) Ibid., p. 295.

([77]) Hutchinson, p. 181.

([78]) Jayme R. Pereira. “Contribuicoes para o Estudo das Plactas Alucinatorias, particularmente da Maconha,” 1958. p. 129.

([79]) Rubin, p. 4.

([80]) Ibid.

([81]) Abel, p. 102.

([82]) Melanie C. Dreher. “Cannabis and Pregnancy.” In Cannabis in Medical Practice. Ed. Mary Lynn Mathre. North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc. Publishers, 1997. p. 162.

([83]) Lambros Comitas. “The Social Nexus of Ganja in Jamaica.” In Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. Chicago: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 120.

([84]) Dreher, p. 162.

([85]) Comitas, p. 126.

([86]) Ibid., p. 129.

([87]) Rubin, pp. 261-262.

([88]) Comitas, p. 130.

([89]) Ibid., p. 127.

([90]) Comitas, p. 129.

([91]) Dreher, p. 163.

([92]) Leonard E. Barrett, Ph.D. The Rastafarians: Sounds of Cultural Dissonance. Boston: Beacon Press, 1977. p. 1.

([93]) According to Barrett, p. 85, Leonard Howell advocated six principles that formed the doctrine of the Rastafarian movement: 1. hatred for the White race; 2. complete superiority of the Black race; 3. revenge on Whites for their wickedness; 4. humiliation and persecution of the government and legal bodies of Jamaica; 5. preparation to go back to Africa; and 6. acknowledging Emperor Haile Selassie as the Supreme Being and only ruler of Black people.

([94]) Barrett, p. 216-217.

([95]) Ibid., p. 217.

([96]) Ibid., p. 129.

([97]) Ibid.

([98]) Barrett, p. 129.

([99]) Dreher, p. 163.

([100]) Ibid.

([101]) Dreher, p. 164.

([102]) Ibid. Babies of ganja smoking mothers were found to be more socially responsive and were more autonomically stable in comparison to babies of non-ganja smoking mothers.

([103]) Dreher, p. 168.

([104]) Chris Bennett, Lynn Osburn and Judith Osburn. Green Gold: Marijuana in Magic & Religion. Frazier Park, CA: Access Unlimited, 2001. p. 267.

([105]) Judi Martin, “Historical Evidence Lies Buried Near Morriston,” Sparetime Magazine, 28 August 1985, as quoted in Green Gold: Marijuana in Magic & Religion. p. 267.

([106]) Hemp Museum in Amsterdam. As quoted in Green Gold: Marijuana in Magic & Religion. p. 268.

([107]) As quoted in Bennett. pp. 268-269.

([108]) Ibid.

([109]) Richard Evans Schultes. “Nectar of Delight.” Plants of the Gods – Their Sacred, Healing and Hallucinogenic Powers. Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 1992. p. 8.

([110]) Bennett, p. 267.

([111]), p. 3.

([112]) (“Cannabis Indica.” An ephemeris of Materia Medica, pharmacy, Therapeutics and Collateral Information 3 (April 1892): 1290-1291.

([113]) H. Wayne Morgan. Drugs In America: A Social History, 1800-1980. New York: Syracuse University Press, 1981. pp. 20-21.

([114]) Rudgley, p. 10.

([115]) Courtwright, p. 43.

([116]) Schultes, p. 8.

([117]) Ibid.

([118]) Melvyn Green and Ralph D. Miller. “Cannabis Use in Canada.” In Cannabis and Culture. Ed. Vera Rubin. The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1975. p. 498.

([119]) Ibid.

([120]) Abel, p. 226. As quoted from M.H Hayes and L.W. Bowery, “Marijuana” Journal of Criminology 23, (1933): 1093.

([121]) The Report of the Canadian Government Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs – 1972. Chapter 4.

([122]) Green and Miller, p. 499.

([123]) Complete History of Cannabis. p. 5.

([124]) Courtwright, p. 46.

([125]) Will Kymlicka. Citizenship and Identity. p. 21. and Myer Siemiatycki and Engin Isin, Immigration, Diversity and Urban Citizenship in Toronto. p. 77.

([126]) Kymlicka, p. 21.

([127]) Line Beauchesne. “Conditions for Real Public Policy on Harm Reduction: the Role of the Federal Government.” Brief Submitted to the House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs. March 2002. p. 4.

([128]) In anthropology, there is a body of literature concerned with forms of population movement and the movement of information, symbols, and cultural practices (cultural values) across transnational boundaries. The theory postulates often these movements initiated by migrants will conflict with the jurisdiction and power of states to which the migrants move and assimilation will take place. At the same time, these movements of cultural values often immensely influence the people of the state and changes to the nation state will occur. I am postulating in this paper that marijuana use, which has been shown to be an integral cultural practice to many different societies in the first part of this essay, is an example of this transnational movement and transformation theory. See: M. Kearney, “The Local and the Global: The Anthropology of Globalization and Transnationalism”; R. Rouse, “Making sense of settlement: class transformation, cultural struggle, and transnationalism among Mexican migrants in the United States; World Cultures Institute UC Merced, “California, Merced and the Pacific Rim”; Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”; Anthony King, ed. “Culture, Globalization and the World-System. Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity.”

([129]) “The Complete History of Cannabis in Canada.”

([130]), p. 5.

([131]) Blackwell, p. 239.

([132]) “The Complete History of Cannabis in Canada.”

([133]) Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. “Recent Trends in Illicit Drug Use among Young People, Canada.” MMWR Weekly. 25 January 1985/34(3); 35-37.

([134]) John Kaplan. Marijuana – The New Prohibition. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1970. p. 4.

([135]) Diane Riley, PhD. Drugs and Drug Policy in Canada: A Brief Review & Commentary. November 1998.

([136]) “The Complete History of Cannabis in Canada.” p. 5.

([137]) Riley.

([138]) CAMH Monitor eReport: Addiction & Mental Health Indicators Among Ontario Adults, 1977-2000.

([139]) Adlaf, Ivis, Smart and Walsh, Ontario Student Drug Use Survey, 1977-1999, Addiction Research Foundation.

([140]) Usha George and Esme Fuller-Thomson. “To Stay or Not to Stay: Characteristics Associated with Newcomers Planning to Remain in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Regional Science. Spring-Summer 1997. p. 181.

([141]) Kearney, p. 554.

([142]) Riley.

([143]) Isabel Vincent. “Enforcers Challenge Cannabis Liberation Movement.” Globe and Mail. 6 April 1998.

([144]) R. v. Parker. 31 July 2000. Ontario Court of Appeal.

([145]) Amina Ali and Owen Wood. “The Need for Weed: Medical Marijuana.” CBC News. July 2001.

([146]) Alchemind Society. “Rastafarian wins religious defense before Guam Supreme Court.” Cannabis Culture. 15 September 2000.

([147]) American Civil Liberties Union Freedom Network.

([148]) Professor Brian Etherington. Review of Multiculturalism and Justice Issues: A Framework for Addressing Reform. Department of Justice, Research and Statistics Directorate. May 1994.

([149]) Rodolphe Ingold. “A Retrospective Look at Drug Addiction Trends from 1970 to the Year 2000.” Drugs and Drug Addictions: Indicators and Trends. French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions. p. 187. This study shows similar patterns as Canadian trends.

([150]) Judith Blackwell. “An Overview of Canadian Illicit Drug Use Epidemiology.” Illicit Drugs in Canada: A Risky Business. Judith Blackwell & Patricia G. Erickson, Eds. Nelson Canada, 1988. p. 237.

([151]) Blackwell, p. 239.

([152]) CAMH Monitor eReport: Addiction and Mental Health Indicators Among Ontario Adults, 1977-2000. p. 62.

([153]) Sylvain Aquatias. “Ethnographic Approach to Cannabis Use in the Parisian Suburbs.” Drugs and Drug Addictions: Indicators and Trends. French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions. p. 203.

([154]) Blackwell, p. 237.

([155]) CAMH Monitor eReport. Addiction and Mental Health Indicators Among Ontario Adults, 1977-2000. p. 62.

([156]) Julian Beltrame. “Reefer Madness: The sequel.” Maclean’s. 6 August 2001. Vol. 114. pp. 22-25.

([157]) Ibid.

([158]) Ibid.

([159]) Line Beauchesne, p. 4.

([160]) Canadian Government Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs. Appointed by the Government of Canada under Part I of the Inquiries Act on 29 May 1969. p. 8.

([161]) Lester Grinspoon. Marijuana Reconsidered. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1971. p. 333.

([162]) Comitas, p. 129.

([163]) Kaplan, pp. 4-5.

([164]) Grinspoon, p. 333.

([165]) Ibid.

([166]) Canadian Government Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs. p. 3.

([167]) Kaplan, p. 17.

([168]) Eriche Goode. “Marijuana and the Politics of Reality.” In The New Social Drug. Ed. David E. Smith. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc., 1970. p. 170.

([169]) Goode, p. 172.

([170]) Rosenwig, M. Pour une éthique de la clinique des assuétudes et des addictions Conférence prononcée au Colloque Quelle prise en charge des patients toxicomanes… aujourd’hui… demain? Société Belge d’Éthique et de Morale Médicale, Mons, 23 avril, 1999. pp. 3-4. (excerpted from Line Beauchesne).

Chris Bennett
Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett has been researching the historical role of cannabis in the spiritual life of humanity for more than a quarter of a century. He is co-author of Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion (1995); Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible (2001); and author of Cannabis and the Soma Solution (2010); and Liber 420: Cannabis, Magickal herbs and the Occult (2018) . He has also contributed chapters on the the historical role of cannabis in spiritual practices in books such as The Pot Book (2010), Entheogens and the Development of Culture (2013), Seeking the Sacred with Psychoactive Substances (2014), One Toke Closer to God (2017), Cannabis and Spirituality (2016) and Psychedelics Reimagined (1999). Bennett’s research has received international attention from the BBC , Guardian, Sunday Times, Washington Post, Vice and other media sources. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



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  6. chrisbennett on

    Brother Walter has read all 3 of my books, you might like to look at the COTU`s mandate and credo, replete with Gnostic references, a document put together by myself and Brother Damuzi, and OK`d by the Brothers.

  7. Anonymous on

    You are obsessed with what Chris Bennett is doing, cool, keep watching!

  8. Danger Dan on

    ,,, and you are Chris Bennett
    dreaming of convincing the Supreme Court of Canada
    that pot is a central to your religion

  9. Danger Dan on

    Bro Walter & Bro Michael the original founders of the COTU have publicly declared on several occasions that they openly believe in the divinity of Jesus as son of the one God – anything extra is extra, I don’t believe they or anybody else cares either way if you wanted to haul in Gnostic features in your own scene there, But please let us believe in what we believe

  10. chrisbennett on

    You are God dreaming about yourself.

  11. Anonymous on

    Here Krsna tells us himself that he is the real God. Yahweh told us HE was the real God but I find Krsna more credible;

    Bg 10.8

    aham sarvasya prabhavo
    mattah sarvam pravartate
    iti matva bhajante mam
    budha bhava-samanvitah

    “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.”

  12. Anonymous on

    Here’s what the Lord looks like, his four arms are especially cool;

    SB 4.24.44: My dear Lord, I wish to see You exactly in the form that Your very dear devotees worship. You have many other forms, but I wish to see Your form that is especially liked by the devotees. Please be merciful upon me and show me that form, for only that form worshiped by the devotees can perfectly satisfy all the demands of the senses.

    SB 4.24.45-46: The Lord’s beauty resembles a dark cloud during the rainy season. As the rainfall glistens, His bodily features also glisten. Indeed, He is the sum total of all beauty. The Lord has four arms and an exquisitely beautiful face with eyes like lotus petals, a beautiful highly raised nose, a mind-attracting smile, a beautiful forehead and equally beautiful and fully decorated ears.

    SB 4.24.47-48: The Lord is superexcellently beautiful on account of His open and merciful smile and Mis sidelong glance upon His devotees. His black hair is curly, and His garments, waving in the wind, appear like flying saffron pollen from lotus flowers. His glittering earrings, shining helmet, bangles, garland, ankle bells, waist belt and various other bodily ornaments combine with conchshell, disc, club and lotus flower to increase the natural beauty of the Kaustubha pearl on His chest.

    SB 4.24.49: The Lord has shoulders just like a lion’s. Upon these shoulders are garlands, necklaces and epaulets, and all of these are always glittering. Besides these, there is the beauty of the Kaustubha-man?i pearl, and on the dark chest of the Lord there are streaks named ?r?vatsa, which are signs of the goddess of fortune. The glittering of these streaks excels the beauty of the golden streaks on a gold-testing stone. Indeed, such beauty defeats a gold-testing stone.

    SB 4.24.50: The Lord’s abdomen is beautiful due to three ripples in the flesh. Being so round, His abdomen resembles the leaf of a banyan tree, and when He exhales and inhales, the movement of the ripples appears very, very beautiful. The coils within the navel of the Lord are so deep that it appears that the entire universe sprouted out of it and yet again wishes to go back.

    SB 4.24.51: The lower part of the Lord’s waist is dark and covered with yellow garments and a belt bedecked with golden embroidery work. His symmetrical lotus feet and the calves, thighs and joints of His legs are extraordinarily beautiful. Indeed, the Lord’s entire body appears to be well built.

    SB 4.24.52: My dear Lord, Your two lotus feet are so beautiful that they appear like two blossoming petals of the lotus flower which grows during the autumn season. Indeed, the nails of Your lotus feet emanate such a great effulgence that they immediately dissipate all the darkness in the heart of a conditioned soul. My dear Lord, kindly show me that form of Yours which always dissipates all kinds of darkness in the heart of a devotee. My dear Lord, You are the supreme spiritual master of everyone; therefore all conditioned souls covered with the darkness of ignorance can be enlightened by You as the spiritual master.

    SB 4.24.53: My dear Lord, those who desire to purify their existence must always engage in meditation upon Your lotus feet, as described above. Those who are serious about executing their occupational duties and who want freedom from fear must take to this process of bhakti-yoga.

  13. Anonymous on

    Hari!Hari! Ganja!, brother.

  14. chrisbennett on

    there you go again making all sorts of assumptions., reading in emotions that are not there and claiming you know what i believe and feel or don’t. It’s the Tree of Life forthe Healing of the Nations, that includes India, whose traditions are part of my Indo-European cultural heritage, and their religous use of cannabis is directly related to the Gnostic use, via the Zoroastrian influence. I named my son Shiva, after one of my favourite aspects of the God Head. Bom Mahadev! Bom Shiva! Hari! Hari! Ganja!

    All of this cross-cultural and common beliefs about cannabis will be in raised in court as well and our evidence of the Tree of Life.

  15. Anonymous on

    Wow, that was quite an inappropriate outburst there, Mr. Bennett. What’s wrong, does the programing make you fly into a rage whenever the CotU is questioned? Which one of them hit you with the shovel and which one tied you to the chair, then which one turned on the monitor and put the toothpicks between your eyelids? Those two are more devious than they first appear.

    Now my question to you would be why you are so despising of the Hindu religion that you refuse to even entertain the notion of becoming one? Join us, brother, give drink offerings unto this lovely idol with us. Your soul won’t be damned to eternal damnation or anything, we promise. The Holy Hemp plant has told us that we must make the Bennett one of us. Now come, Bennett, we have much to discuss, verrry much (heh heh heh).

  16. chrisbennett on

    Why don`t you become a cop? Then you could put those control issues of yours to work and opress people in real lifeinstead of anonymously on the net.

  17. chrisbennett on

    Who said The Church of the Universe were `Christian`s?, we are Gnostics and we embace all sorts of traditions. Cannabis in Hinduism is more evdiece of the Tree of Life`s leaves forthe Healing of the Nations…

    There are hundreds of members of the Church of the Universe and thousands of people who recognize cannabis as the tree of Life and use it fom a Christian perpective.

    Why are you so concerned about what others believe?

    Wh do you percieve it as a threat?

    What does your wish to control the beliefs of others say about you?

    Have you alays held these control ssues?

  18. Anonymous on

    Why don’t you just convert to Hinduism and say that as a Hindu you have the right to possess and use Cannabis Indica? That wacky Church of the Universe isn’t going to make a very good impression on the judges. Those two yahoos just got sent to prison. Join a legitimate religion, Hinduism. Whatsa matter, Chris, idol worshiping beneath you? You’ll get used to it. Hinduism is a lot more sensible than CotU and if the judges deny a Hindu the use of his holy plant then that would be off putting to all Hindus. They don’t give a crap about offending the 5 members of the CotU.

  19. chrisbennett on

    Cannabis is used in India to this day as well, as both a food and a drink, only its connotations are much more imbued with holiness 🙂




    To the Hindu the hemp plant is holy. A guardian lives in the bhang leaf. As the wife of Vishnu, the preserver, lives in the hysteria-curing tulsi, or Holy Basil, and as Shiva dwells in the dysentery-scaring bel, AEgle marmelos, so the properties of the bhang plant, its power to suppress the appetites, its virtue as a febrifuge, and its thought-bracing qualities show that the bhang leaf is the home of the great Yogi or brooding ascetic Mahadev.

    So holy a plant should have special rearing. Shiva explains to his wife, Parvati, how, in sowing hemp seed, you should keep repeating the spell ‘Bhangi’, ‘Bhangi’, apparently that the sound of that guardian name may scare the evil tare-sowing influences. Again, when the seedlings are planted the same holy name must be repeated, and also at the watering which, for the space of a year, the young plants must daily receive. When the flowers appear the flowers and leaves should be stripped from the plant and kept for a day in warm water. Next day, with one hundred repetitions of the holy name Bhangi, the leaves and flowers should be washed in a river and dried in an open shed. When they are dry some of the leaves should be burnt with due repeating of the holy name as a jap or muttered charm. Then, bearing in mind Vagdevata, or the goddess of speech, and offering a prayer, the dried leaves should be laid in a pure and sanctified place. Bhang so prepared, especially If prayers are said over it, will gratify the wishes and desires of its owner. Taken in the early morning such bhang cleanses the user from sin, frees him from the punishment of crores of sins, and entitles him to reap the fruits of a thousand horse-sacrifices. Such sanctified bhang taken at day break or noon destroys disease. Before the religious user of bhang stand the Ashtadevata or Eight Guardians with clasped hands ready to obey him and perform his orders. The wish of him who with pure mind pours bhang with due reverence over the Ling of Mahadev will be fulfilled.

    Such holiness and such evil-scaring powers must give bhang a high place among lucky objects. That a day may be fortunate the careful man should on waking look into liquid bhang. So any nightmares or evil spirits that may have entered into him during the ghost-haunted hours of night will flee from him at the sight of the bhang and free him from their blinding influences during the day. So too when a journey has to be begun or a fresh duty or business undertaken it is well to look at bhang. To meet some one carrying bhang is a sure omen of success. To see in a dream the leaves, plant, or water of bhang is lucky; it brings the goddess of wealth into the dreamer’s power. To see his parents worship the bhang-plant and pour bhang over Shiva’s Ling will cure the dreamer of fever. A longing for bhang foretells happiness: to see bhang drunk increases riches. No good thing can come to the man who treads under foot the holy bhang leaf.

    So evil-searing and therefore luck-bringing a plant must play an important part in the rites required to clear away evil influences. During the great spirit time of marriage in Bombay among almost all the higher classes of Gujarat Hindus, of the Jain as well as of the Brahmanic sects, the supplies sent by the family of the bride to the bridegroom’s party during their seven days’ sojourn includes a supply of bhang. The name of the father who neglects to send bhang is held in contempt. Again, after the wedding, when the bride-groom and his friends are entertained at the house of the bride, richly-spiced bhang is drunk by the guests. The Gujarat .Musalman bride before and after marriage drinks a preparation of bhang. Among the Pardeshi or North Indian Hindus of Bombay bhang is given not only at weddings, but the Pardeshi who fails to give his visitor bhang is despised by his caste as mean and miserly. Another great spirit time during which bhang plays an important part is the time of war. Before the outbreak of a war and during its progress the Ling of Mahadev should be bathed with bhang. Its power of driving panic influences from near the god has gained for bhang the name of Vijaya, the unbeaten. So a drink of bhang drives from the fighting Hindu the haunting spirits of fear and weariness. So the beleaguered Rajput, when nothing is left but to die, after loosing his hair that the bhang spirit may have free entrance, drinks the sacramental bhang and rushing on the enemy completes his juhar or self-sacrifice. It is this quality of panic-scaring that makes bhang, the Vijaya or Victorious, specially dear to Mahadev in his character of Tripur, .the slayer of the demon Tripurasur. As Shiva is fond of bel leaves, as Vishnu is fond of tulsi leaves, so is Tripuresvar fond of bhang leaves. He who wishes to obtain his desires must constantly offer bhang to Tripuresvar.

    Bhang the cooler is a febrifuge. Bhang acts on the fever not directly or physically as an ordinary medicine, but indirectly or spiritually by soothing the angry influences to whom the heats of fever are due. According to one account in the Ayurveda, fever is possession by the hot angry breath of the great gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. According to another passage in the Ayurveda, Shankar or Shiva, enraged by a slight from his father-in-law Daksha, breathed from his nostrils the eight fevers that wither mankind. If the fever-stncken performs the Vijaya abhishek, or bhang-pouring on the Ling of Shankar, the god is pleased, his breath cools, and the portion of his breath in the body of the fever-stricken pleased to inflame. The Kashikhanda Purana tells how at Benares, a Brahman, sore-smitten with fever, dreamed that he had poured bhang over the self-sprung Ling and was well. On waking he went to the Ling, worshipped, poured bhang this cure brings to Benares sufferers from fever which no ordinary medicine can cure. The sufferers are laid in the temple pour bhang ever the Ling whose virtue has gained it the name Jvareshwar, the Fever-Lord. Bombay many people sick of fever vow on recovery to pour bhang over a Ling. Besides cure for fever bhang has many medicinal virtues. It cools the heated blood, soothes the over-wakeful to sleep, gives beauty, and secures length of days. It cures dysentery and sunstroke, clears phlegm, quickens digestion, sharpens appetite, makes the tonic of the lisper plain, freshens the intellect, and gives alertness to the body and gaiety to the mind. Such are the useful and needful ends for which in his goodness the Almighty made bhang. In this praise of the hemp the Makhzan or great Greek-Arab work on drugs joins… Ganja in excess uses abscess, even madness. In moderation bhang is the best of gifts. Bhang is a cordial, a bile absorber, an appetizer, a prolonger of life. Bhang quickens fancy, deepens thought, and Judgment. As on other guardian-assessed objects, the cow, the Vedas, or the leaf oaths are taken on the bhang leaf Even to a truthful witness an oath on of the be1 tree, dreaded. To one who forswears himself the bhang oath is death the bhang leaf. So holy a plant must play a leading part in temple rights. Shiva on fire with the poison churned from the ocean was cooled by bhang. At another time enraged with family worries the fields. The cool shade .of a plant soothed him. He crushed and of the leaves, and the bhang refreshed him. For these two benefits bhang is Shankarpri , the Mahadev. So the right user of bhang or of ganja, before beginning to drinker smoke, offers the drug to Mahadev saying, lena Shankar, lena Babulnath: be pleased to take Shankar, take it Babulnath. According to the Shiva Parann, from the dark fourteenth of Magh (January-February) to the light fourteenth of Asbadh (June-July), that is, during the three months of the hot weather, bhang should be daily poured over the Ling of Shiva every day, bhang should be poured at least during the first and last days of this period. According to the Meru Tantra on any Monday, especially on Shravan (July-August) Mondays, on all twelfths pradoshs, and on all dark fourteenths or shivratris still more on the Mahashivratri or Shiva’s Great Night on dark fourteenth of Magh (January-February.), and at all eclipses of the sun or moon, persons wistful either for this world or for the world to come should offer bhang to Shiva and pour it over the Ling. Not every devotee of Shiva makes offerings of bhang. Such rites in Bombay are seldom performed except in the Bhuleswar and Babulnath temples and there only on special occasions. The bhang offered to Mahadev is without pepper or other spice. It is mixed with water, water and milk, or milk and sugar. It is poured over the Ling. According to some authorities the offerer should not touch the offered bhang. Temple ministrants Atits, Tapodhans, Bhojaks, Bhopis, Bharadis, Gutaras alone should drink it. If there are no ministrants the remains of the offering should be poured into a well or given to cows to drink. Other authorities encourage the offerer to the bhang, since by sipping the bhang reaches and soothes the Shiva-Shakti or Shiva-spirit in the sipper. On certain social occasions during failures of rain, during eclipses, and also in times of war libations of bhang are poured ever the Ling.

    Vaishnavas as well as Shaivas make offerings of bhang. The form of Vishnu Or, the Guardian to whom bhang is a welcome offering is Baladev, Bainram, or Dauji, the elder brother Krishna. Baladev was fond of spirits, not of bhang. But Banins, Bhatias, and other high class Hindus, not being able to offer spirits instead of spirits the offering of bhang to Baladev, unlike the special offerings to Shiva, present bhang. In Bombay, without an offering of bhang no worship of Baladev is complete, offerings to Shiva is a common and everyday rite. Unlike the plain or milk and sugared bhang spilt over the Ling, Baladev’s bhang is a richly-spiced liquid which all present, including the offerer, join in drinking. Such social and religious ions drinking of bhang is common in Bombay in the temple of Dauji in Kalyan’ Kirparam lane near Bhuleshwar. As in the higher class worship of Baladev the liquor offering has been refined into an offering of bhang so it is in the worship of Devi, Shiva’s early and terrible consort. On any Tuesday or Friday, the two week-days sacred to Devi, still more during the Navrata or Nine Nights in Ashwin or September-October, those whose caste rules forbid liquor make a pleasing spices bhang. And as in, the worship of Baladev all present, worshipper and ,ministrant alike, join in drinking. Shitaladevi, the Cooler, the dread goddess of small-pox, whose nature, like the nature of bhang, is cooling, takes pleasure in offerings of bhang. During epidemics of small-pox the burning and fever of the disease are soothed by pouring bhang over the image of Shitaladevi. So for the feverishness caused by the heats especially to the old no cure equals the drinking of bhang. Unlike spirits the tempter to flesh bhang the craver for milk is pleasing to the Hindu religion. Even according to the staitest school of the objectors to stimulants, while to a high caste Hindu the penalty for liquor-drinking is death, no penalty attaches to the use of bhang, and a single day’s fast is enough to cleanse from the coarser spirit of ganja. Even among those who hold stimulants to be devil-possessed penalty and disfavor attach to the use of hemp drugs only when they are taken with no religious object and without observing the due religious rites.

    At the other extreme of Hindu thought from the foes to stimulants, to the worshippers of the influences that, raising man out of himself and above mean individual worries, make him one with the divine force of nature, it is inevitable that temperaments should be found to whom the quickening spirit of bhang is the spirit of freedom and knowledge. In the ecstasy of bhang the spark of the Eternal in man turns into light the murkiness of matter or illusionand self is lost in the central soul-fire. The Hindu poet of Shiva, the Great Spirit that living in bhang passes into the drinker, sings of bhang as the clearer of ignorance, the giver of’knowledge. No gem or jewel can touch in value bhang taken truly and reverently. He who drinks bhang drinks Shiva. The soul in whom the spirit of bhang finds a home glides intothe ocean of Being freed from the weary round of matter-blinded self. To the meaner man, still under the glamour of matter or maya, bhang taken religiously is kindly thwarting the wiles of his foes and giving the drinker wealth and promptness of mind. In this devotion to bhang, with reverence, not with the worship, which is due to Allahalone, the North Indian Mussulman joins hymning the praises of bhang. To the follower of the later religion of Islam the holy spirit in bhang is not the spirit of the Almighty. Itthe spirit of the great prophet Khizr or Elijah. That bhang should be sacred to Khizr isnatural. Khizr is the patron saint of water. Still more Khizr means green, the revered colour of the cooling water of bhang. So the Urdu poet sings ‘When I quaff fresh bhang I liken its colony to the fresh light down of thy youthful beard.’ The prophet Khizr or the Green prophet cries ‘ May the drink be pleasing to thee.’ Nasir, the great North Indian Urdupoet of the beginning of the present century, is loud in the praises of his beloved Sabzi, the Green one. ‘Compared with bhang spirits are naught. Leave all things thou fool, drink bhang.’ From its quickening the imagination Musalman poets honour bhang with the title Warak al Khiyall, Fancy’s Leaf. And the Makhzan or great Arab-Greek drug book records many other fond names for the drug. Bhang is the Joy-giver, the Sky-flier, the Heavenly-guide, the Poor Man’s Heaven, the Soother of Grief.

    Much of the holiness of bhang is due to its virtue of clearing the head and stimulating the brain to thought. Among ascetics the sect known as Atits are specially devoted to hemp. No social or religious gathering of Atits is complete without the use of the hemp plant.

    smoked in ganja or drunk in bhang. To its devotee bhang is no ordinary plant that became , holy from its guardian and healing qualities. According to one account, when nectar was produced from the churning of the ocean, something was wanted to purify the nectar. The deity supplied the want of a nectar-cleanser by creating bhang. This bhang Mahadev made from his own body, and so it is called angaj or body-born. According to another accountsome nectar dropped to the ground and from the ground the bhang plant sprang. It was because they used this child of nectar or of Mahadev in agreement with religious forms that thee seers or Hishis became Siddha or one with the deity. He who, despite the example of the Hishis, uses no bhang shall lose his happiness in this life and in the life to come. In the end he shall be cast into hell. The mere sight of bhang, cleanses from as much sin as a thousand horse-sacrifices or a thousand pilgrimages. He who scandalizes the user of bhang shall suffer the torments of hell so long as the sun endures. He who drinks bhang foolishly or for pleasure without religious rites is as guilty as the sinner of lakhs of sins. He who drinks wisely and according to rule, be he ever so low, even though his body is smeared with human ordure and urine, is Shiva. No god or man is as good as the religious drinker of bhang. The students of the scriptures at Benares are given bhang before they sit to study. At Benares, Ujjain, and other holy places yogis, bairagis and sanyasis take deep draughts of bhang that they may Centre their thoughts on the Eternal. To bring back to reason an unhinged mind the best and cleanest bhang leaves should be boiled in milk and turned to clarified butter. Salamisri, saffron, and sugar should be added and the whole eaten. Besides over the demon of Madness bhang is Vijaya or victorious over the demons of hunger and thirst. By the help of bhang ascetics pass days without food or drink. The supporting power of bhang has brought many a Hindu family safe through. the miseries of famine. To forbid or even seriously to restrict the use of so holy and gracious a herb as the hemp would cause widespread suffering and annoyance and to the large bands of worshipped ascetics deep-seated anger. It would rob the people of a solace in discomfort, of a cure in sickness, of a guardian whose gracious protection saves them from the attacks of evil influences, and whose mighty power makes the devotee of the Victorious, overcoming the demons of hunger and thirst, of panic fear, of the glamour of Maya or matter, and of madness, able in rest to brood on the Eternal, till the Eternal, possessing him body and soul, frees him from the having of self and receives him into the ocean of Being. These beliefs the Musalman devotee shares to the full. Like his Hindu brother the Musalman fakir reveres bhang as the lengthener of life, the freer from the bonds of self. Bhang brings union with the Divine Spirit. ‘We drank bhang and the mystery I am He grew plain. So grand a result, so tiny a sin.”



    Date of origin.–In 1867 Babu Annnda Chandra Kali or Kailai, of Dhamrai, a village in thana Sabhar of the Dacca district, first started the worship at the house of his father-in- law at Fattehpur in the Atia pargana of the Mymensingh district (sub-division Tangail). Antecedent: of the originator.–Dhamrai is an important village in the Dacca district for its car festival, which is annually held in honour of a local idol named Madhab Thakur, and which is witnessed by a large gathering of people. Ananda Chandra received education at the Dacca Normal School. After leaving school he served for some time as a pundit (schoolmaster), and then entered the Police Department, but was there only a short time. He is a Barendra Brahman and belongs to a respectable family. He learnt to smoke ganja when he was only a boy. His present age Is 60 years. He has the reputation of being a versifier. He smokes two pice worth of ganja every day.

    He married at Fattehpur in the Mymensingh district. There he introduced Trinath worship 27 years ago. A panchali (poem) reciting the praises and exploits of Trinath was first published at Dacca in 1871 and the first edition (l,000 copies) was sold in a few months.

    The circumstances under which the worship was first started.-Ananda Chandra Kali was at the time living in the house of his father-in-law. He was thinking of introducing the worship of a common god, who might be worshipped by all classes, rich and poor, Brahman and Chandal, and by all creeds, Saktas, Baishnavas, and Shaivas, and the idea occurred to him of having the present worship at which ordinary and inexpensive things, such as ganja, oil, and betel-leaf, were alone to be used. ·

    Trinath (from Sanskrit Tri, three, and Nath, lord) is represented to be Brahma, Bishnu and Shiva, the Hindu Trinity in one.

    Being a ganja-smoker himself Ananda Kali may have also thought that by introducing the worship he would be able to save the ganja-smokers from disrepute, as then ganja could be consumed in the name of a god and under colour of doing a religious or pious act.

    Religious aspect of the worship.–The following translation of the Introduction to the Trinath Mela Panchali gives some idea of the subject :

    The universe consists of the earth, the heaven, and the nether world, and Trinath is the lord of these three worlds.

    “There was an incarnation of God in the form of Gour (Chaitanya), who delivered· the sinners by preaching the name of Hari, but the Lord was not satisfied with this, and became concerned for the created, and soon he became incarnate again. Brahma, Bishnu and Shiva, gods in three forms, manifested themselves in one form. The one God, the Lord of the. universe, seeing the miseries of mankind, came to their deliverance. Ananda (Ananda Chandra Kali, the originator)declares that the true and sincere worshippers of Trinath are sure to obtain salvation. Brahma, Bishnu, and Shiva met together and expressed their desire,

    to come to this world in one form to receive worship. .

    “He is a truly pious man who worships Trinath, and blessings are showered on the worshipper.

    “The worship should be made in a form in which the rich and the poor may equally join and may perform it easily.

    “Only three things, each worth one pice, are required for this puja (form of worship)..

    The things which please all must be selected. The offering should consist of siddhi (ganja),. pan (betel-leaf), and oil, each worth one pice. .

    “The votaries should assemble at night and worship with flowers. The ganja should be washed in the manner in which people wash ganja for smoking. The worshipper must fill three chillums with equal quantities of ganja, observing due awe and reverence. When all, the worshippers are assembled the lamp should be lit with three wicks, and the praises of Tri- should be sung. As long as the wicks burn, the god should be worshipped and his praises chanted. The god should be reverentially bowed to at the close of the puja. When the reading of the Panchali is finished, those that will not show respect to the Prasad (the
    offering which has been accepted by the god), i.e., chillum of ganja, shall be consigned to.

    eternal hell, and the sincere worshippers shall go to heaven. ,

    How the worship spread.–Anauda Kali commenced the puja with the aid of some ganja smokers in the village of Fattehpur. A large number of people consume ganja in the Dacca and Mymensingh districts, and the worship soon became popular. In fact it spread like wild-fire from one village to another among the ganja-smokers. Those that were not in the habit of consuming ganja also followed their example.

    The following circumstances assisted the spread of the Worship :

    I.–The puja is open to all classes from Brahmans to Chandals and to the rich and the poor. Caste does not stand in its way, and it may be performed almost every day and in all seasons.

    II.–The pup is a Manarik Puja (made in pursuance of a vow on the fulfillment of the object desired).. People have been led to believe that Trinath possesses the power of .healing the sick and fulfilling desires, and .that those who. neglect his worship meet with disgrace, while those who observe it attain success in life. There are several stories m the Panchali narrated in illustration of this statement. It is also popularly believed that in the house where Trinath is worshipped cold: fever and headache do not appear.

    III.–This is a cheap form of worship. The puja can be performed by even the poorest, only three pies being required.

    IV.–People of the lowest class can mix with those above them without distinction of caste or creed on the occasion of these pujas.

    V.–Ganja eau be consumed by all in the name of a god, and the practice cannot be looked down upon, because it is done under certain forms and religious ceremonies. It is also popularly believed that those who mock the worshippers of Trinath shall be ruined and shall be the victims of misfortune.

    The worship prevails not only among the poor, but also among the well-to-do. The latter often entertain their friends after the puja.

    Women do not take any active part in the worship, but they often listen to the reading. of the Panchali.

    The worship is more or less general in the following districts :–(1) Dacca, (2) Mymensingh, (3) Faridpur, (4) Backergunge, (5) Noakhali, (6) Tippers, (7) Chittagong, (8) Bogra, (9) Sylhet, and (10) Pabna (SerajgaDj side). .,,

    The worship is on the decline. It is almost dying out among the educated

    ]Jut among the masses it Still exists.

    . I have ascertained the above facts from Dr. Chandra Sekhar Kali (brother of the originator, Ananda Chandra Kali) and many other respectable persons, and also from personal inquiries in the Daces, Chittagong and Rajshahi divisions.

  20. Anonymous on

    The quotes about the juice of the holy tree being used applies much better to the date palm than Cannabis. Date palm juice is used in India even today;

    “Date palm juice collectors explained that at the outset of the season, a cut is made at the top of the tree to create an opening where the tap is placed. In the evening, a clay pot is positioned under the tap so that it can catch the dripping palm juice. Palm juice collectors climb the tree early in the morning to gather the palm juice just before distribution. Fresh date palm juice is sold early in the morning. If it is held more than a few hours it ferments and loses its sweet taste.”′ defer=’defer

    More information about date palm juice;

    “The date palm sap stores the bulk of its reserve of photosynthetically produced carbohydrates in the form of sucrose in solution in the vascular bundles of its trunk. When the central growing point or upper part of the trunk is incised this palm sap will exude as a fresh clear juice consisting principally of sucrose. Upon standing and favoured by the warm season (when tapping takes place), breakdown of sucrose will soon commence, increasing the invert sugar content, after which fermentation will set in spontaneously by naturally occurring yeasts and within a day most of the sugar will have been converted into alcohol (around 5% v/v). The liquid will turn milky white. References to palm tapping date back long before the birth of Christ and also the famous Roman chronicler and historian Plinius makes mention of it (128, 137).”

  21. chrisbennett on

    Here are images with seven speared leaves and pine cone like buds

    These images are of the Assyrian sacred rites

    In a letter written in 680 BC to the mother of the Assyrian king, Esarhaddon, reference is made to qu-nu-bu. In response to Esarhaddon’s mother’s question as to “What is used in the sacred rites”, a high priest named Neralsharrani responded that “the main items…. for the rites are fine oil, water, honey, odorous plants (and) hemp [qunubu].”

    In SEX, DRUGS, VIOLENCE AND THE BIBLE, we discussed these images at great length, citing a wide variety of references in relation to them, noting that:

    …[T]he symbol behind king Esarhaddon, which also appears in numerous other depictions, has “in modern literature on the subject…[,been] often described as the tree of life…but unfortunately no texts are known which describe in more detail the contents of these pictures. (Ringgren, 1973)

    Likewise, not one single item from all of the existing ancient pictorial inscriptions has ever been suggested as an illustration of the ancient qunubu, which by all accounts played a very important role in both life and worship in the ancient Near East, particularly in the Sacred Rites, which likely are what the aforementioned inscriptions represent. This study proposes that the unidentified symbol of the sacred plant, and the undepicted plant for the word qunubu, are in fact a word and picture that describe the same thing – Cannabis, which was grown and revered as the Tree of Life in the ancient Near East.

    The reason that this connection has not been noted before may be due to the fact that in the Ancient Near East matters involving religious and technical methods were considered closely guarded secrets. Professor H.W.F. Saggs noted that texts dealing with such matters ended with instructions such as; “Let the initiate show the initiate; the non-initiate shall not see it. It belongs to the tabooed things of the great gods.” Such holy knowledge was either only passed along verbally and not committed to writing, or “were written in a manner which was deliberately obscure…” (Saggs 1969). The image of the Tree of Life and its divine association with the king, as well as the use of cannabis as an holy incense and entheogen both fall into such a category. (Bennett & McQueen, 2001)

    This connection is made more notable by the pine cone like buds, reminiscent of cannabis flowers, held by the Shaman like winged figures, and which seem to be a means of transferring the divine properties of the plant to the image of the king, likely denoting an anointing right analogous to that practiced by the later Hebrews in the installation of both priests and kings (Chapter 16). As well it should be pointed out that the leaves of the plant appear in 7 segments, as with cannabis, although in this case, stylized, possibly in order to hide their identification from the uninitiated.

    In the 19th century George Rawlinson noted of the pine cone like buds from the Assyria Tree of Life, that it is “as though it were the medium of communication between the protector and protected, the instrument by means of which grace and power passed from the genius to the mortal which he had under his care” (Rawlinson, 1881). As Rawlinson’s contemporary Francois Lenormant noted, “Often … it is held under the king’s nose, that he may breathe it” (Lenormant, et al., 1881). A scribe of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal recorded in 650 BC: “We were dead dogs, but our lord the king gave us life by placing the herb of life beneath our noses” (Ringgren, 1973).

    When one reads the full passage regarding the qunnabu reference in the Sacred Rites in relation to the stella with Esarhaddon, the incense tent, Tree of Life, and the sacred ox, their connection is even more cemented, as is the imagery of the woven basket depicted in the other images of the Tree of Life:

    To the queen mother, my ‘lord’: your servant, Nergal-šarrani. Good health to the queen mother, my ‘lord.’ May Nabû and Marduk bless the queen mother, my ‘lord,’ May Tašmetu, whom you revere, take your hands. May you see 1,000 years of kingship for Esarhaddon.

    As for what the queen mother, my Lord, wrote to me, saying: “What is going into the ritual?” —

    These are its constituents: sweet-scented oil, wax, sweet-scented fragrance, myrrh, cannabis [ŠEM.ŠEŠ ŠEM.qu-nu-bu], and ?ad?du-aromatic. [I will] perform it [for a]ll [the … th]at the queen mother com[manded].

    [On the xth] day, they will perform the whole-offerings: one ox, two white sheep, and a duck.

    Damqaya, the maid-servant of the queen mother, will not be able to participate in the ritual. (Accordingly,) whomever the queen mother, my ‘lord,’ designates should open the basket and perform the ritual.

    So here we see cannabis, in association with both the sacred ox, or sacrificial “Great Bull that treadest the celestial herbage” in the stella from Esarhaddon, as well as a reference to the “basket” from the other depictions of the Tree of Life, making it clear a connection exists to the images of the sacred tree and cannabis.

  22. chrisbennett on

    Numerous drinks and food preperation have been prepared with cannabis,like bhang and majoon.

    All sorts of trees are depicted in ancient illustrations.

    Many of the tree of life images are stylized beyon recognition to any particular botanical species.

  23. Anonymous on

    Alright, it could be a real tree. It doesn’t sound like Cannabis though. It says either you eat the fruit or drink the juice, neither of which applies to Cannabis. If you look at the earliest depictions it shows a different type of leaves than Cannabis. It looks more like a palm type tree. It’s probably a date tree.

  24. chrisbennett on

    Cannabis is harvested every day of every month here in BC alone. The industrial applications of hemp, needed so much in our petro-chemical polluted world, are the many fruits
    You forgot the healing leaves in your interpretation

    As well, that is not the only reference to the Tree of Life in the Bible, in Genesis for instance, it appears as a tree in the Garden of Eden, and it is clearly this tree which is referred to in Revelation “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revealtion 2:7

    Further, the Biblical Tree of Life is the Semetic counterpart and adaption of the Persian Haoma, itself related to the Indian Soma.

    From Cannabis and the Soma Solution:

    Both the Tree of Life and the Tree of knowledge have long been associated with the Iranian Haoma and its Vedic counterpart the Soma. As scholar E.K. Bunsen pointed out as long ago as 1867:

    The records about the “Tree of Life” are the sublimest proofs of the unity and continuity of tradition, and of its Eastern tradition. The earliest records of the most ancient Oriental tradition refer to a “Tree of Life”, which was guarded by spirits. The juice of the sacred tree, like the tree itself, was called Soma in Sanskrit, and Haoma in Zend; it was revered as the life preserving essence. (Bunsen 1867)

    As also noted in THE LEGENDS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT by Thomas Lumisden Strange:

    The tree of life is traceable to the Persian Paradise. “The haoma is the first of the trees planted by Ahura Mazda in the fountain of life. He who drinks its juice never dies” (Muir, Sansk. Texts,II…)… The original is the Soma of the Hindus, early deified by them, the sap of which was the beverage of the gods, and when drank by mortals made them act like gods immortal…The Hebrews have exactly adopted the idea: “And Jahveh Elohim said, ‘Behold the man has become one of us to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: therefore Javeh Elohim sent him forth from the garden of Eden, … and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life”…. (Strange, 1874)

    Joseph Campbell’s description of the mythical white Hom certainly brings to mind the tree of Life as well: “the…White Haoma Tree arose, which counteracts old age, revives the dead, and bestows immortality. At its roots Angra Mainyu [the Persian Devil] formed a lizard” (Campbell 1964). One can only speculate that the lizard lost his legs in this mythical transition and became the Biblical serpent. “The concept of the tree of life is found among many ancient people… In the Zoroastrian religion of the Persians the sacred tree was called haoma, which grew in a garden from which all the waters of the earth flowed (cf. Gen. 2:10)” (Gray, 1969).

    Interestingly, F. Max Muller indicated that the cherubim and seraphim of the OLD TESTAMENT further the connections between the mythical trees of Eden and the traditions surrounding Haoma and Soma:

    We… consider the comparison of the Cherubim who keep the way of the tree of life and the guardians of the Soma in the Veda and Avesta, as deserving attention, and we should like to see the etymological derivation of “Cherubim” from… Greifen, and of Seraphim” from the Sanskrit “sarpa,” serpents, either confirmed or refuted. (Muller, 1873)

    Numerous scholars have since discussed the similarities between the OLD TESTAMENT’s forbidden Trees and the Soma/Haoma, but one startlingly profound difference stands out between the two myths: the Haoma and Soma were give freely to humanity, delivered willingly by the Garuda bird, the Biblical trees are instead forbidden, and instead of offering the sacred fruit of the tree to humanity, the Cherubim now holds a flaming sword, preventing all from obtaining the mythical sacraments of life and knowledge.

    It is hard not to see in this final redaction of the Eden myth as it comes down to us in the Book of Genesis, as a symbolic rendering of the rejection of entheogenic substances, by the closing editors of the OLD TESTAMENT texts. Shortly after this period, through translations of the Jewish texts into Greek, evidence of cannabis all but disappeared from the OLD TESTAMENT texts.

  25. Anonymous on

    “Revelation 22:2
    In the midst of the street of it,
    and on either side of the river,
    was there the tree of life,
    which bare twelve manner of fruits,
    and yielded her fruit every month:
    and the leaves of the tree were
    for the healing of the nations.”

    How does Cannabis have 12 manner of fruits and yield them every month? It doesn’t look like a real plant is being described here but more of an imaginary tree which represents something else. Maybe it refers to the zodiac, 12 different signs which appear in one month intervals. I think the real ToL is an astronomic concept, which makes sense when you consider that the early religions that started the concept were all astronomy based and their gods were planets and stars. The ToL is probably the path of the ecliptic.

  26. Danger Dan on

    Do you stock Armani Prison wear?

    you should

    you will

  27. Keep up the Great work! on

    I do wonder if the Police have their own Trolls they pay to get on here a spew their idiotic nonsense.
    They are so scared of life they cannot argue and win without old 6 year old tactics.
    If they can’t win they stamp their feet like l;little children and repeat the same idiotic dribble and nothing more becasue they know nothing more.
    Scared little slow dim witted children that couldn’t make it in life so they choose something that only recently even required a grade 12,
    Scared and angry little children whom repeat the same threats and the same lack of intelligence being nothing more then SHEEPLE.
    The dim witted child whom threatened by yelling louder then you so they can feel right even if they look like mindless stumps.
    Money to burn they sit in their Office paid to come on here feeling threatened and try very hard to incite unrest.
    Sad little minded people whom cannot argue with logic because they have none and only had to know how to spell their names to join their club.
    I hope the coffee goes all over your mother fuckin keyboard you fucked up, slow witted, dumb as a stick, POLICE FUCKERS!

  28. Anonymous on

    What is time?
    An invention of human kind? to measure a distance traveled perhaps.
    As for “time” we can not speak.

  29. Danger Dan on

    // Please understand, more are behind them, waiting to pick up the sticks and carry the movement forward until truth comes out.//

    um, you’ve had 10,000 years , How much more time do you need ?

  30. Danger Dan on

    That was a great link.. we are like so impressed with hieroglyphics 101
    So tell us, what is your favourite part of the Egyptian Book of the Dead ? the 420 people will always be with us, but like the ancient Egyptians you seem so keen on, they will be dumped in the desert far way ftom the edge of town,

    ,By all means, try some of those little balls rolling by the scarab beetles are all over, i am sure you will find them delicious,
    The truth will come out just you wait and see !

  31. Anonymous on

    While Marc is in jail, David in the nuthouse and with Chris and his “kookie” ancient Egypt trips being questioned. Please understand, more are behind them, waiting to pick up the sticks and carry the movement forward until truth comes out.
    I do not believe this would be the last stab for the “420” movement, if that is what this is, but the point of the knife at the tip of the blade.
    However, our beliefs are peaceful, we will not pick up blades, but use the cut of our tounge, with truth, justice and freedom as the handle of the knife.

    I offer some education, a good book is, The Egyptian book of the dead by E.A Wallis Budge.
    Also, For when you go beyond grade school level and do crossword puzzles that require knowledge, try this link. who knows, maybe the knowledge will help you one day.

    L S

  32. Anonymous on

    Hi Chris,

    Good Luck!
    Im Burning the sacrement with prayers for you.

    Lindsay S

  33. Anonymous on

    Another far reach for credibility Chris,, why would any pot centric society not struggling with the soldiers of prohibition NOT have the finest grown bud? Like what stopping them? they can grow the plants right on the side of the road and cut the males on the way to the drinking fountain and produce perfect seedless bud. Done deal.. That fact of life has been known fortten down to be passed down- loom at how many illiterate stoners don’t read the most basic grow info in 2009 ../.yet know all about making good pot..- trashing the males and letting the girls have a go is a a fact of economic botany like ” eat the carrot root- don’t eat the leaves” sort of basic smarts..

    really why does everything have to be secret shamans running around with eyeballs inside triangles to you? Its Pot- pretty simple– and all this mystic stuff only you and a couple of 420 meatballs seem to know or care about– -what’s the point?

    Don;t get mad, but before you spend who knows how many hours of your life pulling questionably sacred pot rabbits out of questionably magic hats as the supreme court looks on-with a going and hammer – really, maybe run your show in previews for a few sane people first.. you know, people who have some working relationship with reality..not a bunch of angry old potheads who are out to lunch in a banquet sort of way.. And don’;t call people who don;t buy your divine insence trip ” trolls;” it hurts smurfs when you do that..and makes you look like a fat old farty hippy math teacher who dosn;t know what they are talking about.., Carry on selling magic plants 9-5 and remember- the people who will be evaluating your pot as Religion show in court and voting in the back room are not exactly stoners.. no stoner got beyond being a basement office lawyer..ask Kirk

    cause with Marc in the birdcage, David Malmo in the nuthouse your marijuana las vegas spirit show in court is the last stab for the entire 420 movement. You gum it up with too many kookie ancient Egypt trips and babylonian mystery side orders of dog headed dieties nobody ever heard of, not even in cross word puzzles, ,, your whole focus of pot as religion in 2010 is gonna get thumbs downed.

  34. DonE on

    Thanks for clarifying, Chris.

  35. Dan on

    did anyone ever teach you to respect other people’s viewpoints? if he believe let him do so, i’m no believer, but as long as he doesn’t start a crusade against those who don’t use cannabis it’s all good to me!

  36. Anonymous on

    You seem like an alright guy, just a little nutty. You do realize tho don’t you, THERE IS NO GOD. And if there was one, and she knew we were here, she’d kill us.

  37. chrisbennett on

    No, this material will be handed in as affidavits, and then the crown will likely have a few months to respond, so they will see all this stuff anyways. Indeed, hopefully the Health Minister an AG get a chance to review this before proceeding – give them another chance to issue that exemption.

    I want to make this as much of a public process as we can. They can bring the best witnesses to the table that they can find – that willonly make it a better case!

  38. Anonymous on

    Aren’t you tipping your hand a bit by presenting this in a public forum? Will there be an oppopsition view present at the hearing?

  39. chrisbennett on

    The carbonized seeds found by archeologist, are what was left behind from the burnt seeded buds used originally.

  40. DonE on

    In skimming through the support documents I saw references to burning cannabis seeds to attain an altered state. How do seeds produce a psychoactive effect? Most of us would go out of our way to avoid smoking seeds. Better to roast them or grind into flour for various nutritional uses. Maybe the ancient shamans actually threw whole buds on the flames and that somehow came down in the lore as using seeds? Or is there some benefit to seeds that I’ve missed out on all these years?

  41. Allowed Be High Name on

    Hope the best with all those amazing Declare Nations!

    I pray the court will open their ears to hear and eyes to see.

    Men knee are culled,
    But for you Arch, O Son,
    Draw tears Too, Sown Daughter,
    To Two Re:Friend raises from DEAth,
    Proverbs 13:12; Wings of Healing referred,
    The 13th FIRST, Hope Secured from damnation deferred,
    The SECOND 12th, Re:Plea-created,
    AND-DNA relieves; Re:Be Leaves,
    For the healing of Di-222-Nation,
    The reference of the Re:full Re:Elevation,
    The High-V for Victory,
    At the 22nd place of the Verily, Verily Alphabet,
    And of Omni-Space and Para-Time, Re: Combined,
    Read Relevation 22:2 divined in syncopated Meta-Rhyming,
    Art in Heaven,
    Allowed be High Name!

    Proverbs 13:12
    Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:
    but when the desire cometh,
    it is a tree of life.


    Psalms 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.


    Revelation 22:2
    In the midst of the street of it,
    and on either side of the river,
    was there the tree of life,
    which bare twelve manner of fruits,
    and yielded her fruit every month:
    and the leaves of the tree were
    for the healing of the nations.


  42. river cat on

    If we had a prime minister like you there would certainly be no crime for walking down the street smoking a fatty thats for sure! Keep up the good work brother!

  43. chrisbennett on

    luckily, that is not a part of the affidavits, just the opening to the blogpiece. my bad.

  44. Benoit Aubry on

    make sure you edit this affadavit before submitting. I already found a mistake at the beginning.

    “My lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, and I have been preparing for our Nov. 3 appearance in Federal Canadian court regarding are (our?)religious challenge for a cannabis exemption. Below are documents prepared from Professors, two of whom are slated to appear as expert witnesses in the case:”

    It might sound petty but I’m just saying that it’s important to be taken seriously.

  45. Justinn on

    Right on!

  46. Anonymous on

    At least you don’t need to worry about going to jail in your case. You’ve been keeping your nose clean, unlike the others. Just don’t start selling weed from a hotdog stand or anything and you should do okay.