The times they are a ‘changin. Not so long ago, marijuana was still a taboo—something many Americans thought ought to remain illegal. In the last few decades, and particularly within the last five years, marijuana legalization for medical and recreational use has been sweeping the country. Several states are currently weighing the marijuana issue, with many of them opening the question up to voters. Indeed, even some religious leaders are more or less endorsing its compassionate use.
Now, New York-area Jews concerned about using the plant in baked goods and other recipes can rest easy. Thanks to Rabbi Menachem Genack, New York’s medical marijuana has been officially declared kosher. According to the Jerusalem Post:
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the O.U.’s kashrut department, said in a statement that Vireo’s medical cannabis products “were developed to alleviate pain and suffering in accordance with the New York State Compassionate Care Act.”
The statement adds, “Using medical cannabis products recommended by a physician should not be regarded as a ‘chet,’ a sinful act, but rather as a mitzvah, an imperative, a commandment.”
If you’re wondering why marijuana, a plant which many consider a naturally occurring medicine, would need to be certified as kosher, the Rabbi provides an explanation:
In and of itself, marijuana is a plant and typically would not require kosher certification. For example, kosher consumers who smoke tobacco cigarettes never have needed the tobacco to be kosher-certified. Moreover, when marijuana is medically prescribed, that medicinal use itself would preclude, in most situations, any need for kosher certification. However, if the cannabis is going to be consumed as part of a baked product, then that baked foodstuff would need kosher certification.
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