An academic and political treatise by Chris Conrad, to address the question:
Is there an ecumenical religious creed common to a significant number of cannabis-based religious beliefs, that can be articulated and offered as a formal petition to Congress for redress of grievances to protect religious use of cannabis under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America?
We hold that a universal set of principles and practices does exist that meets the above qualifications. Based on the following principles, do assert that adherence to the religious use of resinous cannabis (marijuana, marihuana, hash) should be recognized and protected under the First Amendment Freedom of Religion and the 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause.
First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, excerpt: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The multi-denominational practice of using cannabis as a religious sacrament was first described in 1996 and designated as Kantheism by author and museum curator Chris Conrad, and the spelling was made compliant with Latin as Cantheism in 1997, to better conform with the modern scientific spelling of the name for the cannabis plant.
We invite your comments and suggestions. — the Editors
- Definition: Cantheism (1997), derived from Kantheism (1996 fr. Greek: kannabis + theism). A mystical religion based on the inherent goodness of the Cannabis plant and its use as a holy sacrament.
- Adherents: Cantheists, Cannabists
I believe that Cannabis sativa, L. is the Useful Cane and the True Hemp.
I believe that Cannabis Hemp is a restorative natural resource for us to grow, share, and use and that humanity has a unique and shared history with this plant.
Therefore, I honor it with high honor.
I believe that Cannabis Hemp is endowed with important healing powers, some of which cannot yet be explained.
Therefore, I offer it to others to ease suffering and bring balance into life.
I appreciate Cannabis Hemp as a sacrament I use to connect me with my community and with myself.
Therefore, we share it in thanksgiving with deep respect for its resinous powers.
The cultivation and dissemination of cannabis are honorable professions.
Therefore I act with absolute integrity and honesty* to protect the rights of all who use Cannabis Hemp in sacrament.
I come here today to share my sacrament with fellow Cantheists.
Inhale and pass it on. Cannamaste.
- * Note: The Christian Bible states that “the truth shall set ye free” and “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” A Cantheist cannot lie or perjure themselves in a court of law because it violates both “the truth” and “the things that are Caesar’s”, namely the courts.
Cantheology: Philosophical roots
Cantheism is a sacramental practice that is tolerant and consistent with other churches, faiths, and systems of belief. Anyone may incorporate Cantheism into their current religious persuasion, so long as they adhere to the Creed, the mandatory consumption of sacramental cannabis, and one or more of the optional practices.
Many of the world’s great religions have used Cannabis sacramentally and ceremonially, including but not limited to:
- Animism: Belief that all things have sentient spirits, and some versions assert that Cannabis has the power to cross the line between the mental and the spiritual worlds. Popular in Africa and pre-Columbian America.
See the parable of the rope, below.
- Biblical Judeo-Christian-Moslem religions, including Coptic Christians and Rastafari. Among their Biblical references are Genesis 1:29-31; Ezekiel 34:29; Isaiah 18:4-5; Rev. 22:1-2. Holy ganja, sacred spliff.
- Egyptians: Smoke Eaters at the Temple at Thebes, incense, mortality rituals.
- Hinduism: Sadhu, ganja, chillum, spiritual and physical healing, smoking cloth. Mystical interpretation of Cannabis healing powers via Ayurvedic practices.
- Pygmy and other African religions: Mound smokers, animism, the spirit of plants and nature, the breath of the gods.
- Scythianism: Smoking huts, hemp labor, cannabis purification rituals.
- Shamanism: Use of all herbs in mystical pursuit of the infinite.
- Sufi Moslems: Use of cannabis to reach an ecstatic state.
- Zoroastrianism: Use of cannabis to communicate with god on high for mystical consciousness and personal enlightenment.
Cannabis Hemp: The rope that ties humanity to God
African creation myths explain why God, who once lived close to humankind, has removed himself from their world. Most of these myths describe a golden age when there was no separation between humans and their creator. However, something occurred to alienate God. The Mende say that God withdrew into the heavens because humans continually begged benefits from him. Ashanti mythology tells of God’s retreat into the heavens after a woman hit him with her pestle while pounding traditional food. Myths from the upper White Nile area speak of the relationship between God and man being severed when a rope between heaven and earth was accidentally cut (Mbiti, John S. 1969. African Religions and Philosophy. London: Heinemann, p 97; Mitchell, Robert Cameron. 1977. African Primal Religions. Niles, IL: Argus Communications. p 25).
Cantheist Rites, Rituals and Ceremonies.
The mandatory Cantheist rite is the regular sacramental ingestion of cannabis, typically either inhaled or ingested, as part of a broader system of religious beliefs.
Observance of other Cantheist rites by the faithful are seen as beneficial but not mandatory. The extent of one’s participation can be a function of one’s religious practice or a measure of the depth of one’s ardor and devotion.
- Practice cannabism, the regular consumption of cannabis.
Make oblation with the hempseed, and sow it everywhere.
- Offer thanksgiving and blessing for cannabis when you partake.
- Share the holy smoke among the faithful.
- Use a hempen prayer cloth to inhale through when sharing the holy smoke among the community.
- First passage of cannabis at maturity, eg., age 16: Parents may choose to offer cannabis, their mature child may accept or pass on this opportunity.
- Age of personal consent at 20: After being schooled as a child, the new adult steps forward to accept Cantheism and share in the sacrament.
- Summer solstice: Marked by bonfire jumping.
- Undertake cannabinges, periods of intense consumption of cannabis.
- Freedom pilgrimage: Take the sacrament in a land that it is free from oppression at least once in your life, and remember the years of persecution.
The graphic symbol for Cantheism is modeled after the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph for hemp rope, which was transformed into the letter “h”.
Illustration: Detail from an Egyptian stella (1780-1306 BC), Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze (Italy) Room III, case 14, Item 7611
The hand symbol for Cantheism is right hand cupped around the left, with two fingers extended in the inner hand, symbolizing the male and the female plants. The overall hand gesture signifying the female calyx which holds the trichome glands.
Astronomy: The three stars of Orion’s belt represent the three aspects of cannabis: Commerce, medicine, and spirit. Sirius, the brightest star in the nearby constellation Canis Major (Big Dog) symbolizes cannabis in the Northern winter sky.
Alchemistry: Cannabis pulp and fiber can be fabricated into almost anything, including every product made from fossil fuels, timber, and cotton. The active flowers and leaves can be converted into a wide assortment of inhalables and comestibles, ranging from flowers to hash resin to honey oil to water hash to kief to food items to beverages to tinctures to salves to liniments, etc., etc.
I will practice and share my faith, but not be obnoxious about it.
We pray for our oppressors, and work for tolerance in a better world.