The medical use of marijuana is legal in 36 states, and recreational use is legal in 15 states, with New York joining that list last month. Medical marijuana is legal in Israel, and recreational use is mostly decriminalized, with little enforcement. A draft law is being considered to legalize recreational use, though smoking in public places will not be allowed. Most religious authorities agree that marijuana is kosher, as it is a plant which would not even need certification unless it was processed or included in an edible product. In 2020, archaeologists and scientists studied residue found in an altar at Tel Arad in Israel from the period 760 BCE to 715 BCE and determined that it was the remnants of burning cannabis plants used in a ritual ceremony. What term related to marijuana is believed to have Jewish roots?
A. Linguists believe that the source of the word marijuana is the name מר חנה, Mar Chana, meaning the Sea of Chana, a small body of water in northern Israel in the area that the cannabis plant was grown in Biblical times.
B. It is believed that the word cannabis derives from the Hebrew words, קנה בשם, Kaneh Bosem, which was one of the ingredients of anointing oils mentioned in Exodus.
C. There are many theories behind the use of the number 420 in reference to marijuana. Many think that the number refers to California penal code Section 420 about marijuana, and others contend that Bob Dylan's song Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35 is the source (“Everybody must get stoned,” not to mention that 12x35=420). But the most likely source is Hebrew gematria, where the numerical value of words is analyzed. The Hebrew word עשן, Ashan (ayin, shin, nun) means smoke, which has a value of 420 in gematria.
D. The word ganja, typically used by Rastafarians to refer to marijuana, comes from the Hebrew words גן יה, Gan Ya, meaning Garden of God. Rastafarians believe that the Tree of Life referred to in the Biblical story of Eden is in fact the marijuana plant.
E. One day Shirley Sobchak came home to find her son, Wally, smoking marijuana. She was shocked, and said to him, “Walter! What are you? A putz? Smoking?” Wally, being high, misheard her and said, “Yeah, I’m pot smoking. But don’t worry. I don’t roll on Shabbos.” And thus was born the phrase Pot Smoking for using marijuana.