بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
Sheikh Suleiman Anwar has received several inquiries regarding the permissibility of using marijuana for medical reasons, and specifically for the treatment of nausea and vomiting, improvement of appetite, chronic pain and muscle spasm.
Before addressing this matter from an Islamic jurisprudential perspective, Sheikh Suleiman would like to mention that according to various medical/scientific sources, the use of marijuana (which is also called cannabis) as medicine has not been rigorously scientifically tested, often due to production restrictions and other governmental regulations. Nevertheless, many states in the United States are legalizing its use for medical reasons, due to some limited evidence that it has been effective in reducing and/or eliminating the symptoms mentioned above.
First and foremost, Sheikh Suleiman maintains that the use of marijuana is prohibited according to Islamic law by way of qiyas (analogy) with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages, which are intoxicants that affect and alter the otherwise normal process of reasoning and/or functioning. According to the scholars of Islam, marijuana is similar to alcohol in that it affects and alters the normal process of reasoning and/or functioning, and as such receives the same ruling as the consumption of alcohol.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. (5:90)
Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: Anything that intoxicates is haram (prohibited). Because this hadith does not address alcohol specifically, it corroborates the analogy made from the above verse (5:90).
However, Allah also mentions in the Quran that certain things that are originally prohibited may contain some benefits, and therefore can be used if the benefit outweighs the harm. Allah says:
يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ ۖ قُلْ فِيهِمَا إِثْمٌ كَبِيرٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا
They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: “In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.” (2:219)
The analogy of prohibition can also apply to the benefit, according to the scholars of Islamic jurisprudence. If an intoxicant such as an alcoholic beverage can have some benefit, as indicated in the above verse, then so can marijuana, which is also an intoxicant and prohibited (by analogy).
Furthermore, if marijuana is the only treatment for certain symptoms, it corroborates its permissibility because Allah says:
فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (2:173)
Allah also says:
يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship… (2:185)
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) also provided an allowance for the one who is in dire need or under duress.
On the authority of Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
إنَّ اللَّهَ تَجَاوَزَ لِي عَنْ أُمَّتِي الْخَطَأَ وَالنِّسْيَانَ وَمَا اسْتُكْرِهُوا عَلَيْهِ”
Verily Allah has pardoned [or been lenient with] for me my ummah: their mistakes, their forgetfulness, and that which they have been forced to do under duress. A hasan hadeeth related by Ibn Majah, and al-Bayhaqee and others.
Based on the above discussion and evidences from the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic tradition), it is the opinion/position of Sheikh Suleiman that the use of marijuana for medical reasons is permissible under the following conditions:
- Only if determined to be of dire necessity by a licensed medical physician;
- Only if prescribed and supervised by a licensed medical physician;
- Only in the absence of alternative treatment of equal or superior effectiveness, which is not an intoxicant.
And Allah knows best…