Kosher Marijuana? Coming to a Store Near You

March 4, 2015

2 min read

Kosher consumers can breathe easy: medical marijuana may soon be getting kosher certification, The New York Post reported.

The US-based Orthodox Union (OU) is mulling a request by Colorado-based cannabis producers to certify their products and is likely to accede.

“We found it fascinating actually, and we believe there’s room for this in the world of kosher certification,” Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the OU’s kosher certification department told The NY Post. According to the paper, the OU was approached several weeks ago by a firm which owns several marijuana production facilities in Colorado, looking to certify its products for the kosher market.

“The cannabis itself, there’s no debate as to whether it’s kosher,” Ean Seeb, who owns Denver Relief, a marijuana shop, told The Cannabist. “It’s a leaf, just like fruits and vegetables. It’s everything else that goes into the edibles that determines it being kosher. What were the ingredients? Was it made in a kosher kitchen? Were their processes used to make it up to kosher standards?”

Over half the states in the US have legalized cannabis for medical use in the past few years. In Colorado and Washington State, even recreational marijuana is legal for users over 21. Most Orthodox Rabbinic authorities, however, forbid its recreational use, under the Torah principle prohibiting self-harm. The kosher certification would be strictly for medical purposes.

“Just as the OU gives out kosher certificates for vitamins or for any other medical product, after an examination of the ingredients, it is possible in principle to issue kosher certificates for cannabis, as long it is solely for medical uses and in countries where it is permitted by law,” Rabbi Avi Berman of OU Israel told Ynetnews.

In New York, which is home to as many Jews as Israel, including a significant religious population, smoking marijuana remains illegal. Authorized medical users would need to take pills or oils, or possibly ingest marijuana in edible form, such as cookies or cakes.

“If it was just a Colorado company (looking to certify its edibles as kosher), it would be more about hype than anything else,” Seeb said. “There is likely a small number of Orthodox Jews in Colorado who are consuming cannabis recreationally or medically and are looking for a kosher edible. But given the state of the industry in general with cannabis in Colorado, all these companies are expanding and putting licensing together for other states, so this is foresight for a bigger market share in general.”

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