Kosher Pot In The U.S.? Oy Vey!

Now that recreational pot use has been given the green light in a few states and medicinal marijuana use is coming to New York, a company hopes?to provide a kosher variation.

Photo by Cheifyc from Pixabay

A unnamed marijuana production company?from Colorado is working with rabbis from the Orthodox Union, a group that certifies food products as kosher, to create and market legal, edible dope products for Jewish consumers. This would be of benefit initially to?Jews who want to use medicinal marijuana, but who also desire such products to be ritually and religiously acceptable for consumption. This would work under the Compassionate Care Act, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo?signed into law last year.

Rabbis and religious scholars are debating the ramifications of allowing pot to be given a kosher seal of approval. The issue for many is whether it will be perceived as a gateway to harder drug use and to a less-stringently religious lifestyle. They also will grapple with why alcohol and cigarettes are allowable for recreational use, but not pot. These issues, of course, are similar to those that non-Jewish groups debate. And to date, the Orthodox Union has not given kosher certification to any cigarettes or e-cigarettes. It should be noted that in Israel, there are about 11,000 people already licensed to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Food, drink, and medicine can be considered kosher due to their ingredients, the methods of preparation, and the supervision of preparation?by trained Jewish scholars, often rabbis. There are various Jewish laws, called “halakhah,” governing the many details of what is and isn’t kosher. Many consumers aside from Jews buy kosher products, but Jews who want to abide by religious law are particularly interested in the “kashrus” (kosher-ness) of edibles. The marijuana plant is considered kosher, but if it is to be rendered into pills or used as an ingredient in foodstuffs such as cookies and other baked goods, then people who are observant would need to see the kosher certification and symbol on the packaging.

Our nation is taking note that there is a lot of money to be made in recreational and medicinal weed. Manufacturers are gearing up, and related businesses are doing so, as well. It is not surprising that kosher food companies are interested. Perhaps there will soon be … kosher weed bagels! Kosher weed-infused liqueurs! How about matzoh, the flat bread popular for the springtime Passover holiday? It cold be marketed as “potzah!” Oy vey!

Ellen Levitt is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013), all published by Avotaynu. She is a lifelong New Yorker, a veteran public school teacher, writer and photographer. Bird lover as well.