Cannabis and spirituality may go hand in hand, says activists

Meditation experts and cannabis enthusiasts discuss whether the two subjects should be used in tandem


Reported by  Soubhik Chakrabarti

Cannabis has been legalized in Canada for over a year now, and this newfound freedom has helped users find their inner selves.

UBC adjunct professor Mark Haden said that psychedelic plants and substances can help people reflect on themselves and that it is a way to connect with one’s inner self.

“There is no specific spiritual path that is more helpful,” Haden said.

Meditation convention: cannabis

The Spirit Plant Medicine Conference, an international gathering of notable cannabis activists and casual enthusiasts, was held at UBC from Nov. 1-3 and had attendees try out a new form of meditation — one with cannabis as an integral ingredient.

Rachael Carlevale, a cannabis activist and conference presenter guided attendees through the evening in an attempt to calm their mind and refocus.

“It’s a relationship you’re building,” she said during her session, “to see it [cannabis] as a friend or an ally.” Carlevale wanted people to use cannabis with a purpose and to help them reach a goal.

One attendee, named Trina, asked for her last name to be withheld due to fears of being prohibited from the U.S.

Trina said she loved how cannabis and meditation can go hand in hand. “It’s both informative and engaging,” she said about the session, “They are partners, for sure.”

Trina added that even though Canada legalized cannabis over a year ago, there is still this feeling of stigma around the use that persists.

“People are very cautious. We know that people are watching.”

Some experts say otherwise

Not all experts agree this is the best method for meditation. Deboragh Varnel, a certified teacher of Transcendental Meditation since 1984, says cannabis and meditation can never mix.

“We ask students to refrain from taking cannabis fourteen days before starting the meditation course,” Varnel said, “It’s important that you don’t have something coursing the nervous system when meditating.” When meditation is meant to refine the nervous system, release stress, and improve your mental activity, it’s hard to accomplish when an opposing force like cannabis is still in your system.

“Unless for medical reasons, it’s not a healthy experience.”

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