CBD: Is It Haram?

It’s 4/20, and while it falls on the last day of Ramadan, conversations still need to be held regarding the use of CBD. With the surge in popularity of cannabis products in the West over the last decade or so, inevitably some confusion has risen about the use, effects, and Islamic legality of such products.

While most seem to unanimously agree that THC products (which are those with an intoxicating effect) are unlawful for recreational purposes as clearly described in verses with the word khamr/intoxicants (see 2:219, 5:90-91), the confusion revolves more around CBD products:

CBD is becoming increasingly popular for its potential health benefits, and people use it for various reasons.

Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol/THC, CBD in isolation does not have psychoactive properties, and therefore cannot be defined as an intoxicant. A good portion of CBD products are 100% free of other intoxicating compounds such as THC and CBN, another semi-psychoactive substance. To make sure of this, all you have to do is read the product label carefully, and it always helps to be certain that it is sold by a legitimate brand. Understanding this fact and why CBD is used can clear up some misinformation and give us some very beneficial knowledge.

CBD is becoming increasingly popular for its potential health benefits, and people use it for various reasons. It is used in people of all ages as well as animals. One of its primary benefits is its ability to reduce anxiety and stress. Several studies have shown that CBD can help reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is believed that CBD interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain, which helps regulate our mood and social behavior.

Medical Benefits of CBD

CBD also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it potentially helpful for those with conditions such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and IBS. Reducing inflammation can help relieve symptoms and enhance overall health, as it is believed that inflammation is one of the underlying causes of many chronic illnesses.

Another potential advantage of CBD is its ability to decrease pain. CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating pain perception. Some studies have established that CBD can reduce chronic pain resulting from conditions like fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, and cancer.

CBD may also have neuroprotective properties, meaning it could help protect the brain from damage and degeneration. Some studies have indicated that CBD can reduce the severity of seizures in people with epilepsy, as well as improve cognitive function in those with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Another use for CBD is its potential benefits for skin health. CBD has antioxidant properties, which reduce damage caused by free radicals and environmental stressors. Some studies have found that CBD can help reduce inflammation and acne, and improve skin hydration and elasticity.

CBD And The Islamic Perspective

With all these wonderful benefits and no intoxicating effects, it’s no wonder CBD has become so popular. It is important that we are properly educated before we draw conclusions, as oftentimes that does more harm than good. It is important to remember these verses, so we do not fall into this mistake:

[16:116] Do not utter lies that are portrayed by your tongues: “This is lawful, and that is unlawful,” to fabricate lies and attribute them to God. Those who fabricate lies and attribute them to God will not succeed.

[10:59] Say, “Have you seen what God has brought down to you of provisions, of which you have made some unlawful and some lawful?” Say, “Did God give you permission, or are you fabricating lies about God?”

There is also more that can be said from an Islamic perspective:

It is almost unanimously agreed that in the case of intoxicants, it is strictly forbidden recreationally, with the exception of its use being out of necessity and when there are no better options. This understanding is completely in line with the Quran:

[2:173] He only prohibited for you carrion, blood, the flesh of the pig and what was dedicated to other than God. But if one is compelled out of necessity rather than desire or greed, then he incurs no sin. Indeed, God is Forgiver, Merciful.

[6:145] Say, “I do not find in what has been inspired to me any food that is prohibited for any eater to eat except if it is carrion, or running blood, or the flesh of pigs for it is impure, or any vileness that is dedicated to other than God.” But if one is compelled out of necessity rather than desire or greed, then indeed, your Lord is Forgiver, Merciful.

[16:115] He only prohibited for you the carrion, blood, the flesh of the pig and what was dedicated to other than God, but if one is compelled out of necessity rather than desire or greed, then indeed, God is Forgiver, Merciful.

To say that CBD is unlawful because it comes from cannabis is similar to saying that alcohol-free beer and wine are unlawful…

The Almighty repeatedly clarifies this exception of necessity. And since we already apply this logic to the other things that He has forbidden (of which would be lawful under these circumstances,) we can soundly conclude that CBD is lawful in all circumstances. In fact, it does not even fall under the category of intoxicants or anything God has forbidden.

Just because the plant it is derived from contains intoxicants, it does not make it unlawful due to its origin, and what has been extracted does not. To say that CBD is unlawful because it comes from cannabis is similar to saying that alcohol-free beer and wine are unlawful, just because they might have once had alcohol in them before they were dealcoholized. If anything, both of these are great inventions, as they have taken a generally unlawful product and put it to much beneficial use, with great health benefits in all of them without the sinfulness or downsides. This is even encouraged in the Quran:

[16:67] And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines, you produce intoxicants as well as a good provision. Indeed, in that is a sign for people who reason.

Understanding Intoxicants In Other Foods

Another relevant topic that I think most of us are under-informed is in regard to trace amounts of alcohol or intoxicants in foods/drinks. Most seem to assume that even negligent amounts that will never get you intoxicated are still forbidden since they still contain traces, and are therefore placed into the same category as intoxicants. This may sound like an understandable argument, but once you learn these facts and ponder over these Quranic verses, you may change your mind:

So one thing that I discovered recently is that many of the everyday foods and drinks we eat contain trace amounts of alcohol. Not because they were added in any way by humans, but because they are naturally occurring. And I am not just talking about kombucha. I mean several kinds of ripe fruits, especially bananas, soy sauce and other soy products, mustard, yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, all bread and baked goods that contain yeast, vinegar, and sodas, to name a few. This all happens because of naturally occurring fermentation within these foods.

There are also some extracts that contain alcohol, such as vanilla extract and almond extract. Many foods you also eat at restaurants may have trace amounts of added alcohol, however, they are not required to state this or be concerned about age restrictions, as the amount of alcohol by volume (0.5% ABV or less in the US) is insignificant enough that it is legally considered non-alcoholic. 

So unless you plan to cut out all these ingredients from your diet and avoid all restaurants because of these trace amounts, you might reconsider your stances, as even some of these foods are mentioned in the Quran (and are clearly not unlawful) such as bananas and many types of fruits.

Therefore, if God mentioned foods with trace amounts of alcohol and did not classify them as unlawful, why are we assuming that others with the same small amounts are? This same logic may be applied to trace amounts of intoxicants in CBD products, however, it is easy to get CBD products without any traces of intoxicants, regardless of your stance. It is also worth mentioning that we know these foods are all generally safe to eat, that even pregnant women are not usually told to avoid them, and only those with severe alcoholism or liver disease might benefit from avoiding them. 

CBD and other products isolated from its intoxicating derivatives have amazing benefits, and having clarity on the subject and fixing potential misinformation or understanding is beneficial to ourselves and others. We should always do what we can to understand things well, consider our situation, and turn towards our religion for guidance on all matters. The more we educate ourselves and follow the straight path, the better chance we have at living a higher quality life. 

Not your typical muslim/american/gen z/leftist/human stereotype.