In pro-cannabis circles, it's often purported that Jesus used Cannabis-based anointing oil to heal/treat/perform miracles.

Is this historically accurate?

Jesus was almost certainly a cannabis user and an early proponent of the medicinal properties of the drug, according to a study of scriptural texts published this month.

Jesus 'healed using cannabis'

Jesus’ words and ministry have been twisted and contorted to support just about any argument. But, there is little doubt that if Jesus was truly called the anointed one, he did indeed use cannabis oil, which was standard at the time. Carl Ruck, professor of classical mythology at Boston University sums it up: “There can be little doubt about a role for cannabis in Judaic religion.”

Did Jesus Use Marijuana to Perform Miracles?

As doubtful as the following hypothesis might first seem to the reader, I might as well boldly state my case right from the start: either Jesus used marijuana or he was not the Christ.

Cannabis and the Christ: Jesus used Marijuana

  • 2
    So... looks like the Guardian was quoting High Times, and that all three are basing their arguments, one way or another, on the assertion that the standard anointing oil at that time and place was cannabis oil. All three come from sources that are pro-pot, but not necessarily unreliable. Does anyone have anything on the core claim wrt cannabis oil being standard?
    – Ben Barden
    May 23, 2017 at 13:44
  • 1
    Even if this were true, putting cannabis oil on yourself does not get you high, and someone who did it would not be a "cannabis user" in normal terminology. Feb 27, 2023 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


The Bible records the Israelites as using kaneh-bosm as anointing oil, specifically in the Old Testament. The exact composition of the oil is unclear as kaneh-bosm is an Aramaic word, although most scholars believe that it was made from Calamus, a kind of palm.

Various sources which discuss the issue:

Although the consensus seems to be that the oil was made primarily from palm oil, a Polish anthropologist named Sula Benet claimed that kaneh bosm is really cannabis in the 1960s. Supposedly, it was merely been misidentified as calamus due to a mistranslation. From Wikipedia:

Other possible identifications have also been made. Sula Benet in Early Diffusion and Folk Uses of Hemp (1967), identified it as cannabis. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan notes that "On the basis of cognate pronunciation and Septuagint readings, some identify Keneh bosem with the English and Greek cannabis, the hemp plant. There are, however, some authorities who identify the 'sweet cane' with cinnamon bark (Radak, Sherashim). Some say that kinman is the wood, and keneh bosem is the bark (Abarbanel)." Benet in contrast argued that equating Keneh Bosem with sweet cane could be traced to a mistranslation in the Septuagint, which mistook Keneh Bosem, later referred to as "cannabos" in the Talmud, as "kalabos", a common Egyptian marsh cane plant.

This appears to be a minority view among scholars, but it appears to be pretty popular in certain popular subcultures. Quoting the Vice article:

Lytton John Musselman, a Professor of Botany at Old Dominion University and author of A Dictionary of Bible Plants (Cambridge 2011), says he's familiar with the theory that keneh-bosem refers to cannabis, but remains wholly unconvinced, calling the evidence claiming marijuana to be part of the holy anointing oil “so weak I would not pursue it.” He also defends calamus as capable of producing medicinal effects on par with those described in the Bible.

“Calamus is a very important component of Ayurvedic medicine and has been shown to have efficacy,” according to Musselman. “For example, in Sri Lanka it is available in any herbal remedy shop and also universally grown in home gardens. The North American species was and is so important to Native Americans in the Northeast that land with natural populations is highly sought after.”

Even if one were to believe that the anointing oil is cannabis, did Jesus ever use it?

I am not aware of a specific mention of Jesus anointing with kaneh-bosm. There are four mentions of anointing with oil in the New Testament, but two of them are in epistles that don't have anything to do directly with Jesus's life (James 5:14 and Hebrews 1:8-9), one is Mary using nard oil (Mark 14:3-9), and the final is a reference to the Disciples using oil (Mark 6:13).

So the link between Jesus and the specific Old Testament anointing oil is tenuous at best as well.

  • 2
    Are there any ancient Aramaic equivalents of "High Times" around? Maybe "palm oil" was a euphemism that ancient pot-smokers used to fool ancient Roman drug enforcement agents. :D May 24, 2017 at 14:31
  • 1
    Your answer is very clear, but I'm really missing a link. The kaneh-bosm is used in the Holy Anointing Oil en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_anointing_oil (see there for limit on the usage etc...) But I'm not able to find any reference that Jesus is using the same. One of the reference I've been able to find "James 5:14-16" but in the translation I've been able to read is not clear that (1) is the Holy Oil (that should not be used on common people) nor that Jesus provided it
    – lbenini
    May 24, 2017 at 15:40
  • 4
    "The Bible records Jesus as using kaneh-bosm as anointing oil" - where please?
    – fdb
    May 24, 2017 at 16:31
  • Agreed with above comments. Fixed.
    – KAI
    May 24, 2017 at 16:58
  • Probably worth mentioning that even today putting cannabis oil on yourself would not have any kind of intoxicating effect. Feb 27, 2023 at 19:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .