The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

I get the question fairly often: how do Baha’is feel about drug use?

I know many people whose own encounter with drugs, either personally, through a loved one, or professionally, will forever influence their opinion that mind-altering substances should never be legalized. Conversely, many others feel that it makes sense to do so. Opinions come down hard on both sides of the question.

The con rationale insists that legalization will increase “gateway” use, thus opening the user to more dangerous drugs. Legalization opponents argue that use of mind-altering substances will increase crime, decrease public and workplace safety, negatively impact health, and affect work performance. The net result, they claim, will cost society both in productivity and dollars.

The pro rationale argues that legalizing drugs could be economically beneficial. One libertarian study estimates that legalizing drugs could save about $41.3 billion annually in enforcement costs alone, and produce another $46.7 billion in higher tax revenues. The study claims that state, local and the federal government would all benefit financially, balancing budgets and erasing massive fiscal deficits.

Legalize Marijuana Protest

Many of the pro and con arguments revolve around the issue of money, which means the ultimate decision for legalization may depend on what drug policies can save or generate the most income.

Material arguments predominate in the press, with spiritual considerations left to our houses of worship. The all-too-visible human wreckage seems to lack, for many, the power to prevent use. Without specific and clear spiritual education, however, some people view the consequences of use through the eyes of “now, without considering an eternal future.

The Baha’i Faith offers a clear and consistent vision on this subject. For Baha’is, the question isn’t a legal one—instead, it centers on the life of the human spirit. Baha’is simply avoid mind-altering chemicals, including alcohol and other drugs. Baha’u’llah begins:

Beware of using any substance that induceth sluggishness and torpor in the human temple and inflicteth harm upon the body. We, verily, desire for you naught save what shall profit you… – Baha’u’llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 75.

Abdu’l-Baha, writing about the use of hashish and the opiates, adds:

Regarding hashish . . . Gracious God! This is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the complete torpor of the soul. How could anyone seek the fruit of the infernal tree, and by partaking of it, be led to exemplify the qualities of a monster? How could one use this forbidden drug, and thus deprive himself of the blessings of the All-Merciful? Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit acts of absurdity, but this opium, this foul fruit of the infernal tree, and this wicked hashish extinguish the mind, freeze the spirit, petrify the soul, waste the body and leave man frustrated and lost. – The Most Holy Book, Notes, p. 239.

Baha’is believe that drug and alcohol use can have serious health implications – but that the spiritual impact is potentially much greater. Abdu’l-Baha cautions us:

As to opium, it is foul and accursed. God protect us from the punishment He inflicteth on the user. According to the explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, it is forbidden, and its use is utterly condemned. Reason showeth that smoking opium is a kind of insanity, and experience attesteth that the user is completely cut off from the human kingdom. May God protect all against the perpetration of an act so hideous as this, an act which layeth in ruins the very foundation of what it is to be human, and which causeth the user to be dispossessed for ever and ever. For opium fasteneth on the soul so that the user’s conscience dieth, his mind is blotted away, his perceptions are eroded. It turneth the living into the dead. It quencheth the natural heat. No greater harm can be conceived than that which opium inflicteth. Fortunate are they who never even speak the name of it; then think how wretched is the user.” – The Most Holy Book, Notes, p. 238.

He reminds us that the use of the opiates is not the only pitfall when he says “the user, the buyer and the seller are all deprived of the bounty and grace of God.”

The heated legalization debate continues for now and for the immediate future. However, wisdom dictates that we factor a new voice, the voice of Baha’u’llah, into our personal decision making. His instruction raises a very important question: When we consider the use of a mind-altering chemical that has the ability to “petrify the soul,” can money ever be the only issue?

How much is your soul worth? Would there ever be enough money to buy it? If you follow the guidance of the Baha’i writings on the use of mind-altering substances, you may never have to ask yourself those hard questions.


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  • Craig Everett Jones
    Aug 08, 2019
    These Baha'i teachings do not address Cannabis, which does not cause any harm to the body or mind. In addition it is not an addictive gateway drug but rather an exit drug. Recent studies have shown that it can be effective in the treatment of PTSD and depression which allows opiate users to free themselves from addiction. So Baha'is taking a stance against it simply because the pharmaceutical companies used their lobbying power to make it illegal doesn't hold water. Cannabis is a naturally occurring medicinal plant that God included in nature and it ...has legitimate medicinal uses. As Abdu'l-Baha says, nature is the "Primordial Book of Revelation". Cannabis and magic mushrooms are now being shown by science to be useful medicines.
    • Emily Sheppard
      Sep 10, 2019
      I agree. Cannabis and CBD oil has been discovered to ease pain and anxiety; I'm personally all for plants being used for any medical need. Still against pure recreational use, though.
  • Keyvan Geula Lmft
    Jun 12, 2019
    I really appreciate seeing how we are engaged in a very honest and candid conversation exploring the reality of our own lives in the light of the principle of harmony of science and religion. As a clinician, I see the dark side of the use of drugs and alcohol on our community. I hope these illumined conversations help us mature. I want to thank Judy for her very brilliant integration of science and religion in her blogs. I would love us to meet since I live not too far.
  • Charles Boyle
    Feb 15, 2019
    Narcotics, alcohol especially interfere with your ability to make good decisions in the interests of your soul by clouding judgement and willful choice to advance virtuous behaviours. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana is a psychotic catalyst that causes this interference, but it is not present in the cannabis oil currently being advanced for medical purposes.
  • Roozbeh Misaghi
    Sep 29, 2018
    Using Drugs will just generelize using any substance can have health benefit or use in a medical sense. Drugs is a political word. Marijuana, Hashish, opiate, alcohol, LSD etc are very different from each other and should not generalized as one thing name "Drugs" there are many substance that can alter human brain! from a banana to a cup of coffee. We should not simplify this matter and try to interpret the faith laws as one absolute laws about everything.
  • Peter Johnson
    Aug 27, 2018
    Guys, I really don't want to offend anyone, but I can't believe how so many people here are cheerfully saying that drugs are somehow "okay". Has our society really fallen so far? I have had addicts as friends, who have suffered tremendous damage, and just because this is extremely common in the modern West doesn't mean we should all eagerly embrace it as well.
    • Judy Cobb
      Aug 27, 2018
      Is our Creator a petty kill joy who wishes to deny us any enjoyment in life or, as our Creator, is He aware of what is in our best interests? Depending on what you believe will determine which course is taken. A final point is that we cannot assume we have the knowledge and understanding of God. I refer you to an essay I wrote "The Rules of Religion and the Red Lights of Life", posted 10/8/14. We all need divine guidance to prevent us from making decisions, not only, on what we know, but also ...on what we don't know. I hope this post is helpful. Thank you, Judy
    • Judy Cobb
      Aug 27, 2018
      Dear Peter, Your comments are certainly relevant to the times. First, each of us has our own set of circumstances to which we relate to when making any decision. Certainly, a loving God would never deny physical respite from pain when there are substances available to alleviate it. In our own hearts we have the ability to determine if what we are doing is spiritually appropriate. If the use of any substance is for "a good time", escape from reality or because everyone is doing it - then there may be a case made to reflect ...on what one is doing. Much of this question revolves around the station of a Messenger of God (in this case Baha'u'llah) and do they speak with the authority of God who is our Creator.
  • Judy Cobb
    Mar 16, 2018
    Because we are all human, Baha'i or not, none of us are perfect and each have our own souls to refine with whatever issues we are dealing with and then try to be as we are created - NOBLE. This nobility comes when we can honestly answer for ourselves what is feeding or starving our souls?
  • Judy Cobb
    Mar 16, 2018
    Everything I offer is not authoritative, but what I as an individual believer have come to understand. For me, I believe God does not want us to unnecessarily suffer physically if there are remedies for it. However, each one of us is blessed to be able to deepen on the guidance of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha. We can pray, and use our rational minds to determine whether whatever we do (drug related or not) is advancing our relationship with God, refining our souls, deepening our spiritual understanding, benefiting our physical health and our relationships with others, or not. ...
  • Judy Cobb
    Mar 16, 2018
    The purpose of the essay was not to shame anyone, as it is completely counterproductive and does not provide a loving solution. However, when reading about Marijuana usage, the public arguments for and against are material in nature: how much tax revenue will we raise, how we will save money in prosecution and incarceration, etc. These arguments are completely devoid of a spiritual perspective, and this is what I wanted to provide. We cannot think of this subject as casually as we consider taking an aspirin. I wanted to share the spiritual guidance provided to help ...make better decisions for ourselves. (continued)
    Our spiritual journey is the best thing we will ever do.
  • Judy Cobb
    Mar 16, 2018
    My apologies, my reply is tardy due to a posting issue with the Website. I do appreciate the variety of responses received.
    First, there seems to be confusion about the very subject we are addressing, so I want to clarify. Hashish and marijuana originate from the female cannabis plant and contain the same active substance. What is different about each is how the plant is processed. Hashish, the strongest, is the compacted resin of the plant. Marijuana is derived from the dried plant leaves and flowers. Strength can vary depending on whether ...the upper or middle part of the plant is used. Opium, morphine, heroin, and codeine are produced from a completely different plant, the opium poppy. (continued)
  • Trish Main
    Mar 13, 2018
    For the love of God friends, please educate yourselves on the realities of the world that God has created for us. The Tablet of the Physician that Baha'u'llah wrote states, "Treat disease first of all through diet, and refrain from medicine. If you can find what you need for healing in a single herb do not use a compound medicine. Leave off medicine when the health is good, and use it in case of necessity." Shame, judgment, and ridcule are not the paths to cultivate compassion, peace, and understanding. We, Baha'i in recovery (from drugs and alcohol), need you (the ..."functional" friends) to embrace us, see us and please be patient because we are trying... it would helpful if you would try too.