So I’ve been talking to the BBC…

I recently recieved an email from the BBC, who are planning a three part series about the history of cannabis, and contacted me in regards to ancient and religious use.

BBC would love your advice Chris

Dear Chris Bennett,

I am writing from BBC television in the UK. We are developing a three part series about cannabis use and it’s history worldwide. I see that you are an expert in the history of cannabis, particularly in it’s cultural and spiritual usage.

I am fascinated by this. I am eager to have a chat with you about your work and would appreciate your guidance and advice on this topic. In particular, I am interested in cannabis usage in Asia and the Middle East – particularly in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan. The links with Shiva in Hinduism are interesting, but I’m also fascinated by Islam’s relationship with cannabis, particularly the Sufis.

More than anything – I’d like your guidance on what you think is most interesting or filmable after all of your research on the subject.

Please let me know the best number for me to call you on and when would be convenient to speak. I’d love to do this as soon as possible, preferably tomorrow (Thursday).

Thank you so much for your time and attention.

I look forward to your reply.

Best wishes

Since then I have had further correspondence with them, and sent them my last book Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible and the forthcoming Cannabis and the Soma Solution.

They have tenative plans to visit here, the States, and after our conversation, attend the Kumbh Mela in India, a huge chillum fueld gathering of ganja using Sadhus. I will keep everyone posted as things develop – but it should be noted, sometimes such projects don’t pan out and this is just in the pre-filming stages.

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.



  1. Anonymous on

    Biblical Soma? well there is a Greek word “soma” in the New Testament, but it is generally translated as “body”.

    I agree with the other poster, Dan Brown is smarmy and not considered a serious researcher.

  2. Anonymous on

    The manna references, for a variety of reasons, are widely regarded as references to mushrooms.

  3. tintala on

    Strain Hunting in Nepal. Also “SHIVARATRI” will be feb 12th 2010, I will be filming that as well, Your welcome to ask me for correspondance, I would love to give you all the beta.!

  4. mary james on

    i work in the tv industry in the uk and would suggest that the programme will be fairly evenly balanced when it comes to the present day and the effect of drug cannabis. this is the bbc after all, not fox. it is, however, going to be between 90 minutes and 3 hours long at a guess so there’s going to be alot of history in there (a la “Emperor’s Clothes) before it gets to medicine etc in the third part. canna bosm will get in early tho.
    you’re in the hands of the director and his editor whatever you say so you may as well say what you want heard and hope for the best.
    if you phone the bbc and tell reception the name of the programme or your contact’s name you’ll be able to find out how they are going to treat the subject, who else will be voicing an opinion or whatever else you want to know. they want their interviewees to be relaxed and willing so assume the best and good luck.

  5. Bradson on

    Dan Brown has a huge audience so his ideas will be well distributed. That could be a good thing if it also stimulates investigation into his claims. There may be truth to the claim that some stories of mythic substances are metaphors for an enlightened state rather than an actual substance that induces the state. Manna from heaven, may be an example (or is it really manna-juana?)

    I think the underlying concept about the power of the mind to transform us is valid whether that enlightenment occurs with or without the help of sacred plants. After all, the higher ground is the real point rather than the means to it.

    Maybe you could send Dan some references to chew on for his next book. It’s undeniable that real substances have existed in our history and their effects on perception and the development of human consciousness shouldn’t be dismissed.

  6. Chris Bennett on

    Dan Brown is a total Shlockmiester.

    The Vedic references to Soma and the Avestan references to Haoma, definately identify a plant.

    Note the references to the rocks pressing the Soma as being turned green in the process and also the reference to Soma as “the purple tree” in what seems to be a clear description of the color of ripened Cannabis indica:

    RIG VEDA 10.94

    Let these (stones) speak…. Ye solid, quick moving stones, you utter the noise of praise… full of the Soma juice.

    They roar like a hundred, like a thousand men; they cry aloud with green-tinted faces; obtaining the sacrifice, the pious stones… partake of the sacrificial food…

    They speak, they received into their mouth the sweet (Soma juice)…chewing the branch of the purple tree, the voracious bulls have bellowed.

    Splitting, but unsplit, you, O stones… enjoying the Soma, flowing green (with Soma), they made heaven and earth resound with their clamour.

    The stones proclaim it with their clamour at the issue of the Soma-juice,… like cultivators sowing the seed, they devouring the Soma, mix it, and do not hurt it.

    ….Proclaim the praise of (the stone), which has effused (the Soma-juice); let the honoured stones revolve.

    ….Vedic references to Soma’s fibrous qualities are pointed to by one of the more vocal proponents of the hemp Soma theory, the knowledgeable editor of High Times, Steve Hager; “The restless Soma–you try to grab him but he breaks away and overpowers everything. He is a sage and seer inspired by poetry. He covers the naked and heals all who are sick. The blind man sees; the lame man steps forth.” A description that certainly does hold connotations of medicinal, fibrous, and psychoactive properties. Another Vedic verse on Soma has been referred to by earlier researchers in reference to the fibrous qualities of cannabis: “In the Sukla Yajurveda (IV.10), mekhala, the girdle, is described as ‘tying the knot of Soma.’ Is this an implication that the Soma plant had the same fibrous qualities as the hemp plant?” (Merlin, 1972). “In the Avesta it was Haoma for whom Ahuramazda first brought the ‘sacred girdle, star-begemmed, woven by the two Spirits’ ” (Taraporewala, 1926). Also, the following verse has indications of rope in relation to Haoma: “May not Haoma bind you like he bound the villain” (Y.11.7). In A HISTORY OF INDIAN LITERATURE, the authors write that:

    At the consecration of the Soma-sacrifice the sacrifice ties round his girdle a belt made of hemp and reed-grass with the words “You are the power of Angiras [ancient fire and magic priests] soft like wool; lend me power!” Then he binds a knot in his underclothing and says “you are the knot of soma.” (Winternitz & Srinivasa, 1996)

    and Haoma
    Haoma is golden-green (Yasna 9.16 et al)
    Haoma is tall (Yasna 10.21, Vendidad 19.19)
    Haoma has roots, stems and branches (Yasna 10.5)
    Haoma has a pliant stem, asu (Yasna 9.16)
    Haoma is fragrant (Yasna 10.4)
    Haoma grows on the mountains, ‘swiftly spreading’, ‘apart on many paths’ (Yasna 9.26, 10.3-4 et al) ‘to the gorges and abysses’ (Yasna 10-11) and ‘on the ranges’ (Yasna 10.12)

    Numerous other references in both the Vedas and Avesta, also clearly identify a plant.

    I think it was Jonthaon Ott who suggested that later non-entheogenic techniques, such as certain schools of yoga, were attemtpting to produce Soma like states without the aid of Soma through yogic techniques, after Soma had been banned.

    See also ‘Soma Revealed’

  7. Bradson on

    I just finished reading Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”. The entire book sets the reader up for his revelation in the final pages that biblical Soma, Manna, etc. are references to the untapped potential of the human mind. He presents Noetics, the study of the power of the mind, as the modern scientific study of the true meaning behind legendary, biblical, substances. So, according to him, there was no actual substance, cannabis or otherwise, behind the tales of Soma and other similar elixirs or potions …they are disguised references to the god-like potential of the mind to create reality, especially when linked together in a common focus.

    I find this a fascinating alternate explanation for what Soma and other similar references are really about. On the other hand, Cannabis has helped me to recognize that the mind has greater depth and power than we typically attribute to it. Ironic, eh?

  8. bluenine85 on

    Watch this, BBC – Hash in the Attic

    see how you feel after, to get it to work just click

    “Click here to launch the NinjaVideo Helper Beta 0.3.10”
    and run the little plugin to get it to work

  9. Chris Bennett on

    My goal will be to present them with the best information and contacts that I can and let the chips fall where they may.

  10. Paddy on

    I’ve got to hand it to the Beeb, they appear to take a much more neutral and scientific stance than other news corporations.

  11. Anonymous on

    The BBC spews nothing but Gov’t Sponsored propaganda.

  12. bluenine85 on

    The BBC has a long history of sensationalist productions regarding marijuana, they like to take the easy road, so be very very careful what you say, they will most likely try to twist your words and put you in a negative light.

  13. Anonymous on

    Woot! I hope someday I will be able to meet you guys from I a very interested to know what people feel when near Marc Emery, what aurora surrounds him. I pick up peoples energy I feel their intension’s.

    I think you should get a Tru-Tv series just like Ventura.

    Burning Shiva Rocks!

  14. Chris Bennett on

    I definately sent them information on that.

  15. Anonymous on

    Hey Chris,

    I’m a big fan of yours – and I wrote a small article based on your work – about Jesus’s holy oil. The story is in the latest NUG Magazine #3, from San Diego California.

    More people need to know about this whole thing and he was meant to be from the middle east – or they already know the story?

  16. Chris Bennett on

    I covered those cultures in my first book ‘Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion'(1995) and again with a load of new research in my next book ‘Cannabis and the Soma Solution’ (Feb? 2010)

    You can find articles dealing with some of those cultures here

  17. Anonymous on

    Well I will have to do some reading I reckon. This and your past couple of articles on CC have inspired me to look into this a little further. Just curious what you have to say on the subjects at hand.