The Yoga Journal reports on Ayurveda and how it views cannabis

Ayurvedic texts describe marijuana used as medicine as a “nectar,” but used recreationally as a “poison.” And recent research shows marijuana has innumerable medicinal benefits for those experiencing chronic pain, undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, among other uses. But another one of the gunas, tamas (the quality of dullness or inertia), can help explain how Ayurveda views marijuana use becoming problematic.

“THC is considered tamasic in Ayurveda,” says Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. John Douillard, who leads Yoga Journal’s Ayurveda 101 online course. “Tamasic drugs hide things like pain and emotions.” He explains that years of overstimulation and the emotional ups and downs of life can wear out the mind, making it prone to addiction, withdrawal, dissociation, and self-medication with drugs and alcohol. Douillard says what may begin as a recreational vice in a rajasic (passionate, present, or excited) state can be detrimental in a tamasic state, as the mind attempts to reestablish a false sense of safety and becomes dependent.

While Douillard agrees that CBD oil can be beneficial for neurological and musculoskeletal inflammation, he points out that CBD oil did not exist in Ayurvedic times. “Marijuana was used in some spiritual settings to help still the mind, but never for any length of time because of the tamasic dullness of the mind it can create,” he says. And though there are ashrams that condone marijuana, Dr. Douillard clarified that they are indeed rare and are classically frowned upon, as spiritual advancement becomes hindered when the mind is in an impure state.

Smoking marijuana also poses a problem for the doshas. Another Ayurvedic practitioner known by her alias, Wolf Medicine, says marijuana can aggravate the vata dosha when smoked. “It’s very drying to the entire body, not just the lungs,” she says and instead recommends edibles for medicinal use, as they send the beneficial properties to the bloodstream faster than smoking. Weed yoga classes, on the other hand, she says, sound more like a gimmick than a healing modality.