Medical Marijuana Kosher For Passover: Leading Rabbi

Israel’s leading ultra-Orthodox Rabbi has ruled eating or smoking marijuana for medical purposes is kosher for the Jewish celebration of Passover.

Marijuana is considered kitniyot, a group of legumes that includes rice, corn, and beans normally forbidden to consume during Passover.

But Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, described by the Times of Israel as “the leading living ultra-Orthodox halachic authority,” made the exception for medical marijuana after sniffing the leaves from one plant and declaring it had a “healing smell”.

Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovic

Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovic

Rabbi Kanievsky’s ruling follows similar rabbinical decisions about medical marijuana. In 2013, Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich ruled that while smoking pot for fun is “forbidden,” it is kosher to distribute and smoke medicinal marijuana.

Rabbi Zalmanovich’s ruling modified an opinion by Rabbi Hagai Bar Giora, head of kitchens, bakeries, factories, catering and events at the Chief Rabbinate, who had told Israel’s Magazin Canabis in early 2013: “If you smoke it, there is no problem whatsoever.”

Zalmanovich, the author of a book on alcoholism in Judaism, said, “Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden.”

However, if the drug is administered to relieve pain, then the person giving it is “performing a mitzvah,” and the person using the drug is using it “in a kosher fashion.”

In January, Vireo Health of New York announced that the Orthodox Union, one of the largest kashrut agencies in the world, was certifying its medical marijuana products, which come in three forms: pills, oils and vapor.

Vireo is one of five medical marijuana providers selected to participate in the New York State Compassionate Care Act, which will effectively legalize medical marijuana in the state when it goes into effect next month. None of the other companies participating in the program have been certified kosher.

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