I have chronic pain in my joints and am wary of using traditional painkillers that are full of chemicals and a number of potential side effects. I would prefer to use something that is more natural and green. Is it permissible for me to use medical marijuana?
According to the Sharia, marijuana is impermissible to consume (smoke/eat) because it is classified as an intoxicant. All intoxicants that alter an individual’s mind and affect perception, judgment, ability to think, and behavior are impermissible.
Medicinal marijuana is thus impermissible to consume unless it is confirmed as an absolute necessity and meets the following three conditions:
- There is no alternative lawful medicine available that works.
- A trustworthy and qualified physician, who is considered to be a specialist in the field, informs the patient that it will most likely be beneficial.
- Only a minimal amount is used to meet the need of the patient and not anything more.
Background of the Issue
Marijuana, also known as cannabis, ganja, hashish, hemp and weed, has been used for thousands of years for the treatment and management of pain, digestive issues and psychological disorders. In the past few years 23 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed laws that make it legal to use medical marijuana. The term medical marijuana refers to using the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its basic extracts to treat a disease or symptom. Laws regarding the use of medical marijuana for treating specific conditions vary by state and there are restrictions in place regarding the amount of marijuana that can be dispensed at each visit.
The two primary chemicals found in marijuana that have medicinal value are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is marijuana’s main mind-altering ingredient that causes a “high”. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t affect the mind, but causes a more sleep-inducing effect, which is referred to as being “stoned”.
Some studies show that THC stimulates appetite, decreases nausea and may reduce pain and inflammation. Studies also show that CBD may be useful in decreasing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures and maybe treating psychoses and addictions. Medical marijuana is used to relieve pain, control chemotherapy related nausea and vomiting and stimulating appetite in patients with cancer or HIV/AIDS. At the same time there are also many harmful side effects including altering one’s thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. Basically marijuana causes a “high” interfering with a person’s attention, judgment and balance.
Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in several states there’s still a fairly large national debate regarding its efficacy. Advocates argue that it has allowed many with difficult problems to receive safe and effective therapy. Opponents argue that these benefits are overblown and that advocates ignore the harms of marijuana. Regardless of the arguments on both sides medicinal marijuana is a reality and there seems to be a strong movement for legalizing recreational use as well.
Recreational use of marijuana is absolutely impermissible according to all Muslim scholars throughout history because it is classified as an intoxicant and is harmful. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Every intoxicant is prohibited.” He ﷺ also said, “That which intoxicates in large quantities is prohibited in small quantities.” So even one hit or puff would be impermissible. In addition to being an intoxicant, research has shown that marijuana usage can be harmful. For example, a study showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and continued lost an average of eight IQ points between the ages of 13-38. Marijuana is also considered to be a gateway drug.
Despite its intoxicating nature and various harms marijuana has been used for medicinal purposes. There’s a well-known principle of Islamic Jurisprudence that states “necessities permit the forbidden”. Based on this principle there can be instances where the use of an impermissible substance for medicinal reasons would be lawful. The books of Jurisprudence discuss this issue under the topic of using an unlawful substance for medicinal purposes (al-tadāwī bi al-ḥarām) and stipulate a number of conditions that would make using an unlawful substance permissible. The purpose of these conditions is to ensure that there is a real and absolute necessity.
The conditions are as follows:
1) There is no alternative lawful medicine available that works.
2) A trustworthy and qualified physician, who is considered to be a specialist in the field, informs the patient that it will most likely be beneficial.
3) Only a minimal amount is used to meet the need of the patient and not anything more.
If these conditions are not met and there isn’t an absolute necessity, then it would be impermissible to consume medical marijuana. It is recommended for a person to explore some form of alternative medicine, such as eastern medicine, homeopathic medication, acupuncture, osteopathic manipulative techniques or chiropractic treatment before considering medical marijuana.
Author: Furhan Zubairi
 Drug facts: is marijuana medicine? National Institute on Drug Abuse website. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine.
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 Al-Mawsū’ah Al-Fiqhiyyah Al-Kuwaitiyyah
 Ibn ‘Abidīn, Hāshiyah Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtār