For eighteen years I was a synagogue rabbi, devoted to guiding people through life’s turmoils and tragedies. In fact, I was so passionate about this pursuit that I returned to school and received a doctoral degree in ministry to help better guide people, particularly through the morally messy moments we all confront. It was also during this time that I fell in love both with entrepreneurism and cannabis, ultimately bringing the two together starting a cannabis cultivation and three dispensaries, then a cannabis research company in Israel, and finally a cannabis social equity program at ONE Cannabis.
Few industries take time to consider the ethics of the product they sell, and too many people never really think through the consequences of what they are involved with. Cannabis is not that industry, and the people I meet within this industry are hyper aware of the moral questions, concerns and storms surrounding this plant. It is a unique industry, attracting and even more unique community, driven by conscience and rooted in a conscious past.
Is marijuana moral? I'm asked this question in 50 different ways all the time.
Earnest employees within the industry sometimes struggle with that concept when having to defend their elected profession to their parents. Conscientious investors have worried about it, not just from a legality perspective, but also an ethical one. Patients and customers grapple with this issue when walking into a dispensary. So many people approach entering a dispensary as if they were at the entrance of a XXX theater - "Please don't let me run into anyone I know on the other side of those doors!"
Whether or not the plant is morally sound is important to many, both personally and professionally. Being both a rabbi and idealistic, cause driven person,
I unequivocally would not be involved with this industry if I believed it to be immoral. However, that doesn't mean I believe it to be moral. And the short answer is that, no - cannabis is not moral. Just please, don't stop reading yet!
Before we talk about the Devils Weed, because somehow this plant conjures up way more emotion than any other, lets start with another plant - a grape vine to be exact.
Are grapes immoral? Well, many people have ruined their lives over crushed grapes. Wine, beer, hard liquor, alcohol have all done more than their share of contributing to destruction in this world. How many alcoholics have lost everything? How many drunk driving deaths happen every day? How much heartache has come at the hands of this little grape?
And yet, that same cup of wine has been used to toast bride and groom. It has been shared as the starting point between two people falling in love. It has been used to sanctify religious events and celebrate life.
The grape isn't immoral when it's abused. Neither is it moral when it is properly used. It is a grape. It has no morality - it is amoral. We are the one's who bear the weight of morality. It is us, not the grape (or grain, or money, or sex, or fill in the blank) which is moral or immoral. Morality is on us - and our action. We can’t blame anything on that grape.
The cannabis plant is no different.
Weed can be used to ruin one's life. However, no one overdoses on it, hardly any one becomes violent while using it, and if there is a gateway drug to violence it is alcohol not this plant. Nonetheless, it can be misused and abused and in that context take us down an immoral path.
Cannabis, however, can also be used for healing, for remedying seizures, comforting the side effects of chemo, for easing the pain of aches or the burdens of PTSD. It can also just be used to relax, to sleep, to think more deeply, create more freely or just used to kick back and relax - enjoying life with the help of this remarkable plant.
Just like the grape, just like the dollar, just like sex, whether or not cannabis is good or bad, depends on who is using it, why they are using it, when they are using it and how they are using it. That, however, isn't about cannabis, that is about us, up to us and on us - not the plant.
Cannabis ain't the Devil's Weed. It doesn't cause Reefer Madness. Let's stop putting our moral mishagas (craziness) on cannabis. THC or CBD or smoking or edibles, it doesn’t matter what’s in the cannabis, but what’s inside of us. So let's be a bit more demanding of ourselves, develop self-restraint, exemplify integrity, demonstrate morality and stop pointing fingers at cannabis. Morality is about us. It has never been, and never will be, about the plant.