The question of the permissibility for a Christian to utilize CBD oil for medicinal or therapeutic purposes prompts interesting discussion. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid constituent of cannabis. Most distributors of CBD oil claim that their product has a very low amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis that can produce a “high.” The health and wellness world claims CBD oil is effective for many disorders including chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cancer-related ailments, and others without producing the mind-altering effects of THC found in marijuana.
Several medical studies are currently underway to test the effectiveness of CBD oil on a variety of ailments including epilepsy, pain, sleep disorders, depression, and social anxiety. Neurologists at the Mayo Clinic are particularly hopeful about the promising effects CBD oil appears to have on two rare forms of pediatric epilepsy (www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/neurology-neurosurgery/news/clinical-trials-of-cannabidiol-for-epilepsy/mac-20429606, accessed 7/9/21). Medical-grade CBD oil is showing amazing promise and appears to be tolerated well by the young patients in the study.
What does the Bible say about CBD oil use for Christians? The Bible is silent on the use of CBD oil. The Bible instructs us to follow laws and respect those in authority over us (Romans 13:1–2). The Bible also instructs readers to avoid intoxication (1 Peter 5:8). Do either of these apply to the use of CBD oil?
The Farm Bill of December 2018 allows for the production and marketing of CBD oil in all fifty states of the U.S., provided that it is extracted from the hemp plant and not the related marijuana plant, and the oil has less than 0.3% THC content by dry weight measure (www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd#farmbill, accessed 7/9/21). Even in large doses, such products do not create an intoxicated state. In June 2018 the World Health Organization reported CBD oil as safe, non-intoxicating, and non-addictive: “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential” (www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf, accessed 7/9/21).
So, what does that mean for those who might seek relief with CBD oil from annoying or even debilitating symptoms while desiring to live in a manner pleasing to the Lord? Like other medical treatments, the legal use of CBD oil is a gray area to be answered between the patient, his/her doctor, and God. Christians should pray for guidance and follow their convictions—and understand that sometimes two Christians can have different convictions on the same subject.
Romans 14 instructs Christians to accept one another’s convictions (verse 1). If a Christian believes eating a particular food is a sin, for him to eat it is a sin, while other Christians without that conviction are able to eat the food in peace. So might be the case with CBD oil. Some may believe anything connected to a plant in the marijuana family is sinful, while others may feel that God has created the plant for our godly use.
Christians considering the use of CBD oil should start by verifying the THC content in the oil. They should also ask the advice of their health care provider. Should one decide to try CBD oil, understand that, because CBD oil is currently unregulated, there is a wide range of products, potencies, and quality of the oils. All would be wise to consider God’s plan and purpose for their own lives when addressing physical or mental health concerns.
When faced with an ailment that he felt was hampering his godly mission, Paul prayed three times for the “thorn in his flesh” (perhaps a painful physical ailment) to be removed. God did not remove the thorn and answered that His grace was sufficient for Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7–10)—and sometimes that is the answer for us as well. Perhaps God has allowed pain in your life so that you can be a pioneering Christian man or woman to demonstrate that a natural treatment (like CBD oil) can provide measurable relief of symptoms. Or perhaps God has allowed the pain in your life to demonstrate His grace during difficulty. Or maybe there is an area God is working on in your life through this struggle. As you pray for guidance, God will honor your desire to please Him in all of your decisions.