top of page

Aisle Seat: Does Cannabis Have a Biblical Connection?

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

By Naomi Serviss / New York City

--What if Moses had said “Let my people grow”?

The grass is always greener….especially since April 21 in neighboring New Jersey. That’s when the Garden State became one of the first (on the east coast) to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana .

A great huzzah echoed statewide, pungent with sweet puffery.

I got a contact high.

Dispensaries offered enticements, promotions and heavy in-house discounts. Free T-shirts, tote bags and lighters were gleefully distributed to happy-camper customers.

It was also a day after 4/20, the unofficial holiday of blazing marijuana insiders.

According to stoner lore, this ritual blossomed with five high-school teens from Marin County, Calif., in the 1970s.

They continued to congregate and light up beneath the bleachers at 4:20, having fun with a purpose to search for a cannabis plant.

Legend has it the herb was left behind in a forest by a U.S. Coast Guard member. He was unable to maintain the plant.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Ironically, New Jersey had approved the hemp plant’s legalization in 2020.

It was already available to card-carrying medical marijuana residents, the customers of New Jersey’s 13 medicinal dispensaries.

This heralded occasion was a long time coming.

The new law is the product of a ten-year struggle by New Jersey cannabis proponents

to catch up to states that have ended criminalization.

Nearly 20 states and D.C. have already legalized recreational pot.

Thirty-seven states permit medicinal marijuana use, in all its forms.

Too bad New Yorkers with a pot penchant must wait until state legislators hammer out a tax deal.

Those in the know figure that could take a year.

Albany’s gears never did run smooth.

New York legalized recreational weed in 2021, and still hasn’t hammered out a licensed market.

Too many stirring the pot, perhaps?

New York dispensaries, meanwhile, are desperate to keep their customers vaping, toking and munching edibles.

They’re mindful of New Jersey’s legal weed temptations a bridge or tunnel away.

Now that the legal risks of toking have gone up in smoke, some are curious about marijuana’s history.

YIVO, a New York-based research institute in Manhattan, claims the pungent plant is Old Testament-rooted.

Juicy tidbits are promised in an upcoming exhibit:

Thursday May 5, 7 p.m.

Mentioned in the Bible and discussed in traditional texts, cannabis has always been an accepted part of Jewish life.

According to YIVO, Jews have been dealing and using cannabis for religious, medicinal and recreational purposes for millennia.

Highlights of the upcoming exhibit will include ordinary stuff repurposed for cannabis consumption including a menorah-shaped bong, and a yarmulke festooned with cannabis leaves.

Expected partakers of the free, live (and live-streamed at 7 EST) event, will likely be good-humored.

And maybe a little hungry.


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including



bottom of page