Religious Stigma Could Hinder Cannabis Reform In Sri Lanka
The cannabis plant has been used by various societies throughout history for spiritual purposes in many parts of the world. As far back as 2,400 years ago the Scythians used bongs made of solid gold to consume cannabis as part of their rituals.
In ancient Egypt, where spiritual beliefs and treating illnesses went hand in hand, the cannabis plant was seen as being tremendously useful. Traces of cannabis in various Egyptian artifacts goes back thousands of years.
The word ‘cannabis’ is believed to have originated from the Hebrew word “קנבוס” (“KaNaBoS”), and many believe that cannabis was a key ingredient in the anointing oil used in ancient Hebrew ceremonies. Many current religions use cannabis for sacramental purposes, including members of the Rastafarian religion.
Ironically, many of the most vocal cannabis opponents in recent decades come from religious communities. That is on display in Sri Lanka right now where religious leaders are pushing back on government plans to ramp up medical cannabis production and exports. Per Christianity Today:
Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera, a known Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, scholar, and researcher, explained that the government’s plan to legalize cannabis production could threaten citizens’ health and culture.
The monk added that Sri Lankans are being led to believe that cannabis is beneficial, which he countered is untrue. He also explained that the government must focus more on the evils of alcoholism and substance use instead of proposing laws that generate income taxes.
Additionally, a ‘priest, who refused to be named’ also spoke out about Sri Lanka’s cannabis pursuits in the cited article, urging the nation’s government to eradicate cannabis from Sri Lanka entirely rather than embrace it.
Even if the government did everything that it could, it’s doubtful that complete eradication could ever be achieved, in Sri Lanka or anywhere else except perhaps Antarctica. Cannabis has been used in Sri Lanka in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, and that is a practice that will presumably continue well into the future, if not forever.
For the record, what is being proposed in Sri Lanka is not geared towards domestic use, but rather, to produce medical cannabis domestically for the purpose of exporting it to other countries. Cannabis prohibition does not work, and it’s time for Sri Lanka to take a more sensible, compassionate approach to cannabis policy.