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BBC | Jan. 6, 2003
Jesus Christ and his apostles may have used a cannabis-based anointing oil to help cure people with crippling diseases, it has been claimed.
Researchers in the United States say the oil used in the early days of the Christian church contained a cannabis extract called kaneh-bosem.
They suggest the extract, which is absorbed into the body when placed on the skin, could have helped cure people with a variety of physical and mental problems.
The medical use of cannabis during that time is supported by archaeological records
The author of the article, published in the US drugs magazine High Times, says his findings are based on a study of scriptural texts.
The article does not question the validity of the miracles reported in the Bible but rather examines whether the early Christian Church may have made use of substances with an active medical effect.
It does not rule out the role played by blind faith in Christ.
Chris Bennett said cannabis was widely used at the time to heal the sick.
"The medical use of cannabis during that time is supported by archaeological records."
He said the ancient anointing oil contained high levels of cannabis extract.
"The holy anointing oil, as described in the original Hebrew version of the recipe in Exodus, contained over six pounds of keneh-bosum - a substance identified by respected etymology, linguists anthropologists, botanists and other researchers as cannabis extracted into about six quarts of olive oil along with a variety of other fragrant herbs.
"The ancient annointed ones were literally drenched in this potent mixture."
Mr Bennett suggested the drug may have played a role in some healing miracles carried out by Jesus and his disciples.
He wrote: "In the ancient world, diseases such as epilepsy were attributed to demonic possession.
"To cure somebody of such an illness, even with the aid of certain herbs was considered exorcism or miraculous healing.
Jesus often becomes the final hope for the pharmacologically impaired
"Interestingly, cannabis has been shown to be effective in the treatment of not only epilepsy but many of the other ailments that Jesus and the disciples healed people of such as skin diseases, eye problems and menstrual problems."
Mr Bennett said the findings suggested that it was unchristian to persecute people who used cannabis.
"If cannabis was one of the main ingredients of the ancient Christian anointing oil, as history indicates, and receiving this oil is what made Jesus the Christ and his followers Christians, then persecuting those who use cannabis could be considered anti-Christ."
However, Christian groups in the United States have rejected Mr Bennett's claims.
They have insisted that the arguments made in the article are lame.
In a response to the article published on JesusJournal.com, critics said: "As many of us know firsthand, Jesus often becomes the final hope for the pharmacologically impaired."
John Cunyus, the author of a book on Christian healing, said: "Well, the Bible does say that St. Stephen was stoned... but perhaps not in that sense!"