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Marijuana is kosher for Passover, leading rabbi rules

Cannabis may be used for medical reasons during Passover, despite previously being forbidden

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Consuming marijuana for medical reasons is kosher for Passover, a leading rabbi has ruled, after being presented with cannabis leaves and told that they have a ‘healing’ smell.

Among Ashkenazi Jews, who are of usually of Central and Eastern European descent, the drug would be considered to be a member of the kitniyot – a group of legumes and grains which are forbidden during the festival of Passover, including rice, peas and lentils.

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But Belarusian rabbi Chaim Kanievsky has said that marijuana may be used by Jews from all backgrounds on Passover if it is used for medical purposes, The Times of Israel reports.

The 88-year-old rabbi, who lives in Bnei Brak, an Israeli city east of Tel Aviv, can be seen with another prominent rabbi in a video uploaded to YouTube by pro-legalisation group Cannabis Israel in which they are presented with cannabis leaves and partake in the leaves being blessed.

Watch Chaim Kanievsky give his blessing :

In 2013, Orthodox rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich ruled that distributing and smoking marijuana is kosher, but only for medicinal purposes. Using the drug for fun, he said, was forbidden.

Rabbi Zalmanovich has reportedly said that “taking drugs to escape the world” is “certainly forbidden” but people using it for medical reasons are using it in a kosher way.

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

1 /10 Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Having been reclassified in 2009 from a Class C to a Class B drug, cannabis is now the most used illegal drug within the United Kingdom. The UK is also, however, the only country where Sativex – a prescribed drug that helps to combat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis and contains some ingredients that are also found in cannabis – is licensed as a treatment

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

North Korea

Although many people believe the consumption of cannabis in North Korea to be legal, the official law regarding the drug has never been made entirely clear whilst under Kim Jong Un’s regime. However, it is said that the North Korean leader himself has openly said that he does not consider cannabis to be a drug and his regime doesn’t take any issue with the consumption or sale of the drug

MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Netherlands

In the Netherlands smoking cannabis is legal, given that it is smoked within the designated ‘smoking areas’ and you don’t possess more than 5 grams for personal use. It is also legal to sell the substance, but only in specified coffee shops

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Although in some states of America cannabis has now been legalised, prior to the legalisation, police in the U.S. could make a marijuana-related arrest every 42 seconds, according to US News and World Report. The country also used to spend around $3.6 billion a year enforcing marijuana law, the American Civil Liberties Union notes

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Spain

Despite cannabis being officially illegal in Spain, the European hotspot has recently started to be branded, ‘the new Amsterdam’. This is because across Spain there are over 700 ‘Cannabis Clubs’ – these are considered legal venues to consume cannabis in because the consumption of the drug is in private, and not in public. These figures have risen dramatically in the last three years – in 2010 there were just 40 Cannabis Clubs in the whole of Spain. Recent figures also show that in Catalonia alone there are 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs – this amounts to over 5 million euros (£4 million) in revenue each month

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Uruguay

In December 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of the drug. But the president has since postponed the legalization of cannabis until to 2015 and when it is made legal, it will be the authorities who will grow the cannabis that can be sold legally. Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Pakistan

Despite the fact that laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist and is considered a habit only entertained by lower-income groups, it is very rarely enforced. The occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Portugal

In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. However, you can still be arrested or assigned mandatory rehab if you are caught several times in possession of drugs

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

Puerto Rico

Although the use of cannabis is currently illegal, it is said that Puerto Rico are in the process of decriminalising it

RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images

Where cannabis is and isn’t legal

China

Cannabis is grown in the wild and has been used to treat conditions such as gout and malaria. But, officially the substance is illegal to consume, possess and sell

Marijuana is illegal for recreational use under Israeli law, but is prescribed for patients with certain conditions, including patients undergoing chemotherapy and those experiencing chronic pain from Parkinson’s disease.

1 /1 Marijuana is kosher for Passover, leading rabbi rules

Marijuana is kosher for Passover, leading rabbi rules

Cannabis may be used for medical reasons during Passover, despite previously being forbidden

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Cannabis may be used for medical reasons during Passover, despite previously being forbidden

Is Marijuana Kosher? This Rabbi Might Clear Your Conscience.

Is marijuana kosher?

As Passover and 4/20 coincide in 2019, observant Jews want to know.

In 2019, the second night of the Jewish holiday of Passover falls on 4/20. That makes it more fitting than ever to address a query that, if some cannabis fans had their way, would be an addition to the traditional four questions that are asked at every Seder, the ceremony and ritual feast that marks the beginning of the eight-day observance.

Namely, is marijuana kosher?

For an answer, Weedmaps News turned to Rabbi Raphael Leban , managing director of the progressive outreach organization The Jewish Experience in Denver, Colorado.

Q: Have you been asked before whether weed is kosher?

A: Let me put it this way. I have a very open constituency. As more of an outreach synagogue than a traditional one, we have thousands of people who turn to us for spiritual guidance. So, yes, the question does come up because we certainly have members for whom keeping kosher and enjoying Colorado ‘s major cash crop is important.

Q: What, in a nutshell, do you tell them?

A: The Torah requires Jews to maintain a kosher diet, which precludes us from eating certain foods including pork and shellfish and eating meat and dairy together.

Kosher refers specifically to eating, so if one were smoking or vaping marijuana, that does not rub up against any issue of kashrut, or the laws around keeping kosher.

Additionally, if one were consuming cannabis by anointing one’s skin with a lotion or swallowing a tasteless pill , neither of those is eating, so, again, those aren’t a concern of kashrut.

When, however, we’re talking about putting something in our mouth, in the form of drops, tinctures , edibles , or anything else that falls into the territory of eating, then we have a valid concern about whether what we’re consuming is kosher.

As a plant itself, marijuana is kosher. No kasruth problem there. On the other hand, there might be kosher issues when additives or ingredients are used in preparation or processing.

For example, some red food dyes are made from crushed cochineal insects , and while insects are acceptable to the FDA, it’s not to kashrut laws, so brownies made with this dye wouldn’t be kosher.

Fortunately, the kosher-supervising industry is so robust in America today, that if you go to a supermarket anywhere in the country, you can find certified-kosher ingredients for whatever you need to make brownies or the edible of your choice.

Q: If I’m buying my edibles at a dispensary, how can I be sure they’re kosher?

A: A person who’s interested in observing the Jewish laws of keeping kosher would want to make sure that anything marijuana-related, just like anything they eat that’s not marijuana-related, has been certified kosher by a reliable kosher agency.

[Note: Today, you can find kosher dispensaries in some cities, as well as online shops .]

Q: Going back to insects, what if there are tiny bugs on my marijuana buds?

A: Insects are a forbidden food, so those of us who are kosher are extremely meticulous in checking our food, particularly our salads and vegetables. If there are bugs in marijuana that you’ll be eating in some form, that would be a problem. So you’d need to carefully check for bugs and get rid of every last one before using the marijuana as an ingredient in anything you’re preparing.

Making sure that the marijuana that’s used in any edibles is free from insects would be one of the criteria a rabbi with a kosher-certifying agency would consider as they approve products or oversee production.

Q: So, it’s pretty easy for someone to keep kosher and enjoy marijuana?

A: I haven’t commented on whether marijuana use is healthy or not — we’ll leave that to the experts — but that’s another issue that could arise. There’s a commandment in the Torah that one must care for one’s health, both physical and spiritual. Today, we all want to eat things that nourish us, that are healthy for us and that conform with our goals for our physical well-being.

A Jewish person who is in tune with kosher, also wants to make decisions about what they consume that conform with their spiritual health. Even though, according to the letter of the law, it may be acceptable to consume cannabis, that may not always confirm with our spiritual health goals, which are the spirit of the kosher laws.

Q: In the same way that drinking two bottles of kosher wine a night is not really kosher in the deeper sense of the word.

Q: So far the news about marijuana being kosher is good! But is it kosher for Passover?

A: I don’t think there are really any additional issues that would arise for Passover. The Torah requires that during Passover we neither consume nor own anything that is chametz , a food product made from five forbidden grains: wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt. Marijuana isn’t a grain, so chametz prohibitions don’t apply.

Ashkenazi Jews also avoid kitniyot , a group of foods that includes rice, corn, and certain types of legumes. Again, this doesn’t apply to marijuana.

Q: One last question: can marijuana leaves be used on the Seder plate as a bitter herb?

A: The answer to that, in one word, is no.

Featured Image: Yes, we(ed) are. (Photo by Evan Grant via Flickr; used with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license)

This post has been updated to clarify the role of The Jewish Experience.

Is Marijuana Kosher? This Rabbi Might Clear Your Conscience. Is marijuana kosher? As Passover and 4/20 coincide in 2019, observant Jews want to know. In 2019, the second night of the ]]>