When New York launches its medical marijuana program, Orthodox Jews will be permitted to partake, as long as the cannabis is kosher and consumed only for medicinal purposes. A recent report from The Jewish Daily Forward indicates that the Orthodox Union, which provides kosher certifications for food items, is currently working with a company from Colorado in the development of a brand of kosher certified medical marijuana edibles.
Kosher cannabis could be the ultimate niche market, considering 13% of the entire Jewish population (1.1 million) resides in New York City alone. So, it stands to reason that providing the Orthodox community with cannabis products that do not violate the kashrut has the potential to become an extremely lucrative venture.
“They know there are patients who are Jewish and follow the kosher dietary laws,” Rabbi Moshe Elefant with the Orthodox Union told The New York Post.
While the use of recreational marijuana is strictly prohibited among many Orthodox rabbis, there appears to be a growing acceptance for cannabis as long as it is used for its health benefits. Medical marijuana is “a perfectly acceptable use of a plant that grows in God’s garden,” said Rabbi J. David Bleich, a medical ethics expert with New York’s Yeshiva University. Yet, simply getting high is “pleasure for pleasure’s sake,” he adds, and not conducive to being a good Jew.
“I can’t tell you the 614th mitzvah is thou shalt not smoke pot,” he said, adding that these principles, which are over four decades old, are derived from the “dina d’malchuta dina,” which translates to “the law of the land is the law.” Essentially, Orthodox rabbis condemn marijuana because it is illegal under federal law.
The Orthodox Jewish faith follows a stringent dietary code in order to determine whether food is fit for consumption. And since New Yorkers will consume medical marijuana in edible form, a kosher certification is required for Jewish patients, according to the basic laws of kashrut.
It is for this reason that a Colorado cannabis producer, who has not been identified, hopes to receive approval from the state of New York to provide Jewish patients with edible pot products that are certified kosher. Representatives with the company reportedly met with the Orthodox Union several weeks ago to request “kosher supervision” in the development of their cannabis edibles. The word on the street is that the presentation was a success, and the reality of selling kosher pot products in New York is well within reach.
Of course, this is good news for Orthodox Jews who have been considering medical marijuana as a potential treatment option, but were worried about how their ingestion of the herb would conflict with Jewish law. While medical marijuana does not require kosher certification to be smoked, New York’s program will not allow patients to consume cannabis using this method – only edibles and oils will be permitted. Therefore, it is imperative for Jewish patients who subscribe to the laws defined by the Torah to have access to marijuana edibles certified under traditional Jewish philosophies.