Is pot kosher? If it's medicine, it doesn't matter

Following the OU’s certification, Canada’s Kashruth Council says medication need not be kosher.

Shoshana Miskin ,

Cannabis (file)
Cannabis (file)

Last month, The Orthodox Union (OU) announced it is going to certify medical marijuana products for the pharmaceutical company Vireo Health, whose medical products come in three forms: pills, oils and vapor.

The  Kashruth Council of Canada (COR) met Thursday to discuss an application from MedReleaf, a licensed producer of medical cannabis, and after "a lot of interplay and exchange," the council decided that according to Jewish faith, sick people are not required to consume kosher medicine

“Something that is medicine, that’s prescribed from your doctor, that you need to take for your health, that doesn’t need kosher certification,” said Richard Rabkin, COR’s managing director.

“We don’t really want to get into the business of providing kosher certification for something that is doctor-prescribed,” he added.

He acknowledged that some medical cannabis users might prefer to consume kosher marijuana, but he said a talk with a rabbi should ease their concerns.

However, not all kosher certification agencies agree with Kashruth on medical marijuana.

In a statement on its website, OU stands by its decision claiming that “while the cannabis plant is inherently kosher, the final product may contain kosher sensitive ingredients such as alcohol, gelatin and oil”

“The qualifying medical conditions are not always life threatening, and even in such instances where there is a threat to life, it is preferable to use a kosher medication when available,” said the statement.

Kosher Check, a global kosher certification agency based in British Columbia, decided that edible medical cannabis products do need certification, but has not yet certified any such products. A representative of the group said that smoking marijuana does not need to be certified kosher, but edible forms, including capsules, should be certified.