Surprising links between controversial plant and ancient Judaism puts Israel ahead of the world when it comes to medical marijuana.

In Israel, medical marijuana has been legal since the early 1990s. International cannabis research today is largely based on the 1960s research of Jerusalem-based professors Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Gaoni. The pair isolated the active ingredient of hashish and its psychoactive component (tetrahydrocannabinol) as well as the natural human analog to THC (anandamide) which the body naturally produces. Due to their efforts, Israeli scientists have also developed a strain of marijuana without THC. 

The Israeli government funds the research on medical marijuana, which today benefits some 12,000 Israeli patients and is grown on eight farms for a state-run medical cannabis distribution center.

Israeli medical marijuana research includes customizing and compounding different strains to treat ailments and diseases such as Multiple Myeloma, pediatric epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, migraines, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease, prostate cancer, diabetes, and more. 

Interestingly, the Israeli government and Israeli scientists may have gotten involved in medical marijuana research due to religious reasons. 

There are references to marijuana in many ancient Jewish texts.

Torah and Jewish Law commands: “Also, one will beautify [Shabbat candle lighting] when the wick is made from cotton, flax or cannabis…”is found in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law).

In the Torah, in Genesis 1:12, it notes, “I give you all the seed-bearing plants.” 

In Exodus, God instructs Moses to make a sacred anointing oil with, among other things, “knei bossem” – which some believe is marijuana. 

"Knei bossem" (also spelled as “Keneh bosem”) is also mentioned in the Song of Songs 4:14, Isaiah 43:24, Jeremiah 6:20 and Ezekiel 27:19. Jewish scholars - both Rashi and Rambam(Maimonides) - noted that marijuana was important.

Boston geriatrician Yosef Glassman spent several years researching the relationship between cannabis and Jewish history. Glassman’s research revealed that cannabis may have been used as an anesthetic during childbirth in ancient Israel as an archaeological discovery of hashish in the stomach of the 1,623-year-old remains of a 14-year-old girl in Beit Shemesh.

“I think that cannabis is a wonderful solution for someone to control pain without the addictive nature of painkillers, and with a much better safety profile,” Doctor Glassman explains. 

So if Christianity incorporates the Old Testament and Jewish texts, why does Christian America see cannabis as sinful and illegal? Sound off below.

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