Spiritual Benefit from Cannabis

J Psychoactive Drugs. 2022 Apr-Jun;54(2):149-157. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2021.1941443. Epub 2021 Jul 5.


Like many mind-altering plants, cannabis has been part of spiritual practices for thousands of years. It has deep roots in Hinduism, Islam, Rastafarianism, and indigenous traditions in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. Yet almost no attention has been given to how contemporary adults employ it spiritually. A sample of 1087 participants (mean age = 38.9) completed an online survey assessing their use of cannabis and other substances, as well as spiritual and psychological characteristics. Spiritual benefit from cannabis was reported by 66.1% of the sample, and 5.5% reported it had sometimes been a spiritual hindrance. A MANOVA showed that those who reported spiritual benefit differed significantly from those who did not on several outcome variables, and a post hoc descriptive discriminant analysis revealed that expansiveness motivation, non-theistic daily spiritual experience, meditation frequency, and two mindfulness facets contributed most to differentiating the two groups. The majority of the sample (63%) was free of cannabis use disorder. Compared to disordered groups, the non-disordered group was significantly older and scored lower on experiential avoidance, psychological distress, and several motives for use. Results suggest that spiritual motives for cannabis use may be widespread. Implications for future research on spiritual use of cannabis are discussed.

Keywords: Cannabis; marijuana; psychedelic; spiritual benefit; spirituality.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Cannabis* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology
  • Mindfulness*
  • Motivation
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires