Pickles. Hot dogs. Salt. These things have something in common: They all come in kosher variety. And they may soon be joined by medical marijuana.
According to a report in The Jewish Daily Forward, an Orthodox religious leadership group is in talks with MMJ dispensary owners who want to offer kosher product to their customers. The Orthodox Union certifies kosher foods for businesses across the United States.
Multiple medical weed providers have asked the union to begin certifying pot that meets kosher standards. It’s not clear exactly which rules would apply to marijuana, but there are at least two possibilities.
For one, pots or pans used to cook non-kosher foods cannot then be used to cook kosher products, no matter how well cleaned. For another, while plants and vegetables are generally considered kosher, they won’t be certified if they contain insects.
Edibles could violate kosher law
Both these issues could come into play with edible marijuana. Certain salts, oils, and spices used in food preparation violate kosher law, and that would carry over to any edibles cooked using these products. Capsules or other forms of the drug may also break kosher rules.
Marijuana itself does not appear to violate these rules, though smoking it on a Saturday could be viewed as a breach of Jewish laws, regarding the Sabbath. But it isn’t kosher law that governs those circumstances, so certification of dried cannabis bud probably wouldn’t be necessary.
The push to apply kosher rules to pot has a fair amount of support, as MMJ continues to spread rapidly across the United States. Israel also has a successful medical weed program and a long history of scientific research on the subject. That might make it a bit easier for some rabbis to support medical cannabis reform.
No problem certifying medical weed
The Orthodox Union has ruled in the past that cigarettes and e-cigarettes can never be kosher because of their severe health risks. But Orthodox Rabbi Moshe Elefant, who is in charge of certification for the union, said rabbis “would not have a problem” certifying medical weed, noting its healthcare benefits.
Some Orthodox rabbis remain strongly opposed to any use of marijuana, but there is no broad religious proscription against the drug, at least not when it’s used as legitimate medicine.
What’s more, humans have grown cannabis in Israel and other parts of the Middle East for at least 1,000 years. The drug doesn’t appear explicitly in the Torah, but it was likely familiar to ancient Jews.