Medical Cannabis and the Early Christian Church
The Truths and the Myths

For reasons that will become self-apparent, this chapter is subdivided into two sections:
1- Myth-Information - Dealing with numerous false myths surrounding the Catholic church and the use of Medical Cannabis.

2- The Burning Times - Dealing with witchcraft and the role of the church and the persecution of witches.
Only those subject related to the use of Medical Cannabis will be addressed.

      The Late Pope John Paul II
Pope JohnPaul
Section I

Medical Cannabis and the Early Christian Church
The Truths and the Myths

Did the early Christian (meaning the Roman Catholic) Church, oppress or did it promote the use of Medical Cannabis.   There seems to be no way in which one cannot become emotional about this issue.   According to various websites, the following are just some of the most serious crimes “allegedly” committed by the Roman Catholic Church:

  • That it believed ONLY in “faith based healing;” thus discouraged, some saying outlawed, the formal education of and even the practice of Medicine.
  • That in 1484: Pope Innocent VIII labeled cannabis as an unholy sacrament of the satanic mass and issues a papal ban on cannabis medicines.
  • That it often accused all herbalists (many of which were women) of witchcraft, thus destroying much of the West’s original knowledge of Medical Cannabis and other medical herbs.
  • The Church destroyed cats because Church officials labeled them as the devil's helpers [don’t know what this has to do with medical Cannabis, but it always seems to come up].
In the words of one magazine article:
"Catholic Popes have been viciously persecuting users of medicinal plants virtually since the formation of the Church. . . . The Pope who launched the most vicious of the Catholic Church's many campaigns against herb users was Pope Innocent VIII (1432-1492). In 1484 he issued a papal bull called "Summis desiderantes" which demanded severe punishments for magic and witchcraft, which at the time usually meant the use of medicinal and hallucinogenic herbs. Indeed, the papal bull specifically condemned the use of cannabis in worship instead of wine." --- Cannabis Culture Magazine
But what exactly are the truths and what are the myths.   Long ago, I figured out that just because someone puts something up on the Internet, that doesn’t necessarily make it true.   In fact, I’m personally shocked at how many times someone puts something up, then someone quotes that person, and so on and so on etc.   But when you actually start to check out the source --- Nothing, the original guy got it wrong.   So let’s take a look at the allegations against the church, one by one.


driving out demons


ACCUSATIONS: --- That the early church believed (some use the word, exclusively) in “faith based healing.” Thus discouraging the formal practice, as well as the formal study of Medicine. [Here one assumes that Cannabis being an integral part of Medicine was affected by the above allegation.]
Leaving emotion behind for now, let’s look at all the above allegation(s).   One by one, using a little logic and reason.

  • “That the Early Church Believed in Faith based Healing” --- What would Buffy the Vampire Slayer, say;   “Ah, and this is wrong, b-e-c-a-u-s-e?”

    I hate to put it this way, but back around 400 AD, “faith healing” was considered state of the art Medicine.   As far back as 3000-BC, Sumerian Clay Medical tablets devoted 50% of there space to Magical incantations; this was also the case for Greek and Roman Medicine.   Even Pliny (the Elder) wrote about the subject as follows:
    “The power of words and incantations is the first of the human-derived remedies raises a question of paramount importance and one that admits of no definite answer.   Do Words and Incantations Have Any Power?” -- The Natural History (Book 28); Drugs Obtained from Man; Magic and superstitions.
    And while Pliny was sort of negative on the subject, he did keep an open mind.   Ironically, it seems to have been an epidemic that swept through the whole of the Roman Empire (starting in 251 and continuing until 270 AD), killing an estimated 5,000 per day at its height that led to the first mass conversions to Christianity.   And even in today’s world, many of our hospitals include chapels or places of prayer within their buildings.

    Thus, the actual question should really be --- Why should we hold the church to any different standards?

    driving out demons

  • "That the Catholic Church relied exclusively on “Faith Based Healing,” to the point of outlawing, and/or discouraging, the formally practice of Medicine.”

  • That the church created a situation that allowed for no formal education of medicine.

  • That the church encouraged/allowed, medicine to be practiced by ‘the quack', barbers and keepers of baths, etc.

    This one, found on numerous websites, is so ludicrous that were it not so prevalent it would be laughable.   As stated elsewhere, throughout Greek and Roman times, there was NO SYSTEM OF FORMAL EDUCATION of medicine as such.   A student interested in the subject simply apprenticed himself to an established physician, and that was it.   Four or so years later, he himself was a doctor.   No wonder that medical doctors were viewed back as nothing more than craftsman and somewhere just below a Goldsmith at that. ---- In other words, there was NO organized level of formal education before the Catholic Church came into being, the idea simply didn’t exist.   It would only be until the latter part of the Middle Ages that Europe started to create its own Universities, and thus formal education.

    Additionally, everyone admits that it was the church that set up some of Europe’s first Hospitals and Universities etc.   And while true, there are documented (mostly isolated) cases where the church DID intervene to the detriment of schools.   Perhaps the following (taken from one website) provides a good example: [1]
    “When, in 1219, Pope Honorius III ordered that doctorates from the University of Bologna be only granted after the consent of the Archdeacon, many students simply left Bologna and founded the University at Padua. Centuries later, in 1565, when Pope Pius IV decreed that only Catholics could be given a doctorate, the Venetian State over ruled him."
    While the above accusation is probably true, I’ve always noticed that they are made by those who only read a few sentences of something and then jump to false conclussions.   It would interesting to find out what the geo-political situation was at the given time.   It probably would explain everything, but that would be beyond the scope of this book.

    The following decree, issued in 1566 Pius V is more representative.
    CANON 11 - “Since there are some who, on account of the lack of necessary means, are unable to acquire an education or to meet opportunities for perfecting themselves, the Third Lateran Council in a salutary decree provided that in every cathedral church a suitable benefice be assigned to a master who shall instruct gratis the clerics of that church and other poor students, by means of which benefice the material needs of the master might be relieved and to the students a way opened to knowledge. But, since in many churches this is not observed, we, confirming the aforesaid decree, add that, not only in every cathedral church but also in other churches where means are sufficient, a competent master be appointed by the prelate with his chapter, or elected by the greater and more discerning part of the chapter, who shall instruct gratis and to the best of his ability the clerics of those and other churches in the art of grammar and in other branches of knowledge. In addition to a master, let the metropolitan church have also a theologian, who shall instruct the priests and others in the Sacred Scriptures and in those things especially that pertain to the cura animarum. To each master let there be assigned by the chapter the revenue of one benefice, and to the theologian let as much be given by the metropolitan; not that they thereby become canons, but they shall enjoy the revenue only so long as they hold the office of instructor. If the metropolitan church cannot support two masters, then it shall provide for the theologian in the aforesaid manner, but for the one teaching grammar, let it see to it that a sufficiency is provided by another church of its city or diocese.” --- 4th Lateran council
    Although having nothing to do with Medical Cannabis, perhaps the best dissertation on the subject was written by John Sprague “Monasticism And Medicine: From Morals To Money And Back."   It deals with the reasons behind the events of the time. ---- Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain permission to reproduce the article (the copyright seems to be controlled by the University of California Davis); It can be located via --- or if need be, we can send you a copy via e-mail.
    “The practice of monastic medicine was widespread and ideally revolved around the belief that medical treatment was inextricably tied to the care of both soul and body. . . . Indeed, Christianity could be said to be a “healing” faith, with its central notion of the Blood of Christ as “curing” us of our sins, and the abundance of stories about miracle cures performed by the Saints and their relics. Christ himself successfully treated leprosy, blindness, and crippling handicaps, not to mention the fact that he cured death, the final aim of medicine. . . . . Monks, were privy to much of the current medical theory. That the monastery at St. Gall had devoted an entire building to the practice of phlebotomy shows that the monk-practitioners were not afraid to use the most current and aggressive medical theories. “ --- John Sprague
    Some guy with a birds mask

    There are at least a couple of websites out there claiming that this picture is proof that the church opposed modern medical practices and relied solely on faith based healing.   However, in reality the birds mask was used to hold various herbs or medicines which were thought at the time to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. ----- Note, it was state of the art medicine back then and even today, many people still use surgical masks to prevent the spread of diseases.

  • "That the church intervened and prevented the practice of Medicine. Specifically, that the 4th Lateran council (1215) forbade anybody from practicing medicine whom the Church had not approved of (such as Jews, Women etc.), etc. "
    Yeah, right -- Show me where that statement is? -- [Note, An English translation of the entire fourth Lateran council can be found on the web through Medieval Sourcebook Twelfth Ecumenical Council Lateran IV ]

  • "That in 1484: Pope Innocent VIII labeled cannabis as an unholy sacrament of the satanic mass and issued a papal ban on cannabis medicines." ---- Just NOT TRUE -- There is NO mention of Cannabis and/or Hemp anywhere in that Papal Bull.   And while the Papal Bull is a rant against Witchcraft (something for which the church has since apologized for), there is nothing anywhere that can even remotely be interpreted as suppressing Medical Cannabis in any way shape or form.   Read the Bull for yourselves
    [See Section II "The Burning Times" for Wording Of The Bull]

    "A Treasury of Health by Pope John XXI   [era 1277]"
    -- The very fact that a pontif (Pope John XXI who was also a phyician) would write a Medical Textbook with various references to Hemp, of and of itself, DISPROOVES or brings into question those who claim that the church outlawed the use of Medical Cannabis.
    Pope XXI

    The treasury of healthe conteynyng many profitable medycines gathered out of Hypocrates, Galen and Auycen, by one Petrus Hyspanus [and] translated into Englysh by Humfre Lloyde who hath added therunto the causes and sygnes of euery dysease, wyth the Aphorismes of Hypocrates, and Iacobus de Partybus redacted to a certayne order according to the membres of mans body, and a compendiouse table conteynyng the purginge and confortatyue medycynes, wyth the exposicyo[n] of certayne names [and] weyghtes in this boke contayned wyth an epystle of Diocles vnto kyng Antigonus.
    [English] Publication Date: 1553 By (author) Pope John XXI (era 1277)   [MORE]

      Remedies - Agaynst a Carbuncle Capi. LIX
      . . . The ioyce of Hempe, afore the fyt taketh away the feuer.

      Remedies - Agaynst the scabe and french pokes cap. LXII
      . . . Take of red colewortes, fengreke Percely, sothernewod, tansey, strawbery leaues, and suet, brere leaues, plantayn leaues, hempe, redmadder smallage, cransebill, Alam, nuttes, before al thynges let them be sodde~ together in pure whyte wyne, & put therto a lytle hony, giue it vnto the pacient early & late, and anoynte ye wound wtout when he hath dronke of ye sayd potion, & lay theron a lefe of red colewortes & keape the same co~tynually ouer it, it openeth it and hath ben often prouyd.   [MORE]

  • “In 1566 Pius V issued a decree that required doctors to withhold treatment from any sick man who had not confessed his sins to a priest within the previous three days.” --- Humm! Interesting Lets look at the actual wording:
    CANON 22 “Since bodily infirmity is sometimes caused by sin, the Lord saying to the sick man whom he had healed: "Go and sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee" (John 5: I4), we declare in the present decree and strictly command that when physicians of the body are called to the bedside of the sick, before all else they admonish them to call for the physician of souls, so that after spiritual health has been restored to them, the application of bodily medicine may be of greater benefit, for the cause being removed the effect will pass away. We publish this decree for the reason that some, when they are sick and are advised by the physician in the course of the sickness to attend to the salvation of their soul, give up all hope and yield more easily to the danger of death. If any .physician shall transgress this decree after it has been published by bishops, let him be cut off from the Church till he has made suitable satisfaction for his transgression. And since the soul is far more precious than the body, we forbid under penalty of anathema that a physician advise a patient to have recourse to sinful means for the recovery of bodily health. “ --- The Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215 ?
    Maybe it’s just me, but frankly I don’t see anything wrong.   The statement simply states that when a physician visits a (assumable gravely ill) patient, that a priest should be notified and called in.   Additionally, Doctors were ordered to STOP telling their patients (willy-nilly) that they are going to die (aka T.S. said the kitty).

  • "That in 1554 the Church banned and destroyed numerous medical books (we assumed containing references to Medical Cannabis), written by Jewish, Protestant authors, etc. ” --- BULL - Where’s the Beef?   Give me a list of those textbooks?   According to the following pamphlet, Index of Prohibited Books (1559) from the Roman Office of the Inquisition [which can be found on the web -- \Index Librorum Prohibitorum [List of Prohibited Books], only the following Medical books could be found:   [MORE]
    • Medicina animæ.
    • Medicina animæ pro fanis fimul & ægrotis inftante morte.
    And (while having no proof), I suspect that these two medical books were added by the Vatican for reasons other than the religious background of the authors.   Need further proof, just look at the number of Mohammedan books that were translated into Latin.   If censorship of medical books was taking place, it would have started there.
    List of Prohibited

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  • That the Inquisitions in Spain and Venice saw many physicians imprisoned, tortured and burnt for the crime of heresy. -- See section II, The Burning Times]

    The Narcotics Police -- Their treatment of Cancer Victims


    [1]- -- www.religion444.mht

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