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Why Religious People Are Less Likely To Use Marijuana

It’s not just cannabis — religious people are generally opposed to alternative medicine compared to those who self-identify as being “spiritual.”

Americans who regularly attend religious services and have religious beliefs are less likely to use cannabis for medical or recreational reasons. Unless, of course, you are a Rastafarian.

According to a report published in Journal of Drug Issues, those living a religious life “tend to exhibit lower rates of medical and recreational marijuana use.”

The researchers found:

“The authority perspective suggests that religious involvement may also deter substance use by encouraging a general deference to authority, conformity to societal norms, and adherence to laws. Numerous biblical passages counsel adherents to submit to various ‘authorities’ and ‘ordinances’ (e.g., Hebrews 13:17; Peter 2:13-14; Romans 13:1-7). For instance, Romans (13:1-2) advises: ‘Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.’
“Those who are active within religious institutions may favor conformity through fear of divine retribution, internalized moral codes, guilt avoidance, and the social context of obedient peer networks. If religious individualsare more deferential to authority than others, they may be more likely to obey laws prohibiting illicit substance use and the use of prescription drugs in the medically prescribed manner.”
Study: Religious People Are Less Likely To Use Marijuana
Photo by Christoph Schmid via Unsplash

The study reveals it’s not just cannabis — religious people are generally opposed to alternative medicine compared to those who self-identify as being “spiritual.” One theory suggests religious individuals may disapprove of certain medical technologies in part because they see potential value in suffering, as compared to nonreligious individuals, which tend to view suffering as something to stop as quickly as possible.

RELATED: Cannabis And Churchgoers Don’t Mix Well, Study Shows

Of course, this is not the first study to find religiosity and marijuana don’t mix. A 2016 study found people who believe the Bible is God’s word were 58% less likely to also support marijuana legalization. Study author Daniel Krystosek, a graduate student in sociology at the University of Nevada, pooled together the data of three national surveys from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago conducted in 2006, 2008 and 2010.

In 2018, a Pew Research Poll found only 38% of white evangelical Christians support marijuana legalization. Eight out of 10 Americans who do not affiliate with an organized religion support cannabis reform.


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