This Strain of Marijuana Is Extending the Benefits of Chill to a Whole New Group of People

Source: Getty Images/Facebook

In the struggle for legalized marijuana products, one group has often found itself left out of the pot party — Jews.

While plenty of Jews know how to enjoy a hit or two, for those who follow Judaic dietary laws, it's got to be kosher. And so far, that's been something of a problem. "Weed use for pleasure is forbidden," Andrew Zeitler, an Orthodox millennial living in Israel, told Mic

Buzzkill.

But things may be starting to change. A New York company is gearing up to sell what it's billing as the first-ever kosher medical marijuana. 

Vireo Health of New York, one of five licensed New York state purveyors of medical marijuana, announced on Wednesday that it has been officially certified kosher by the Orthodox Union. This means Vireo products — vaporization cartridges, capsules and oils — will display the OU coveted seal of endorsement, the encircled "U" symbol, on its packaging.

"Being certified kosher by the OU will not only help us serve the dietary needs of the largest Jewish community in the United States, but also combat unfortunate stigmas associated with medical cannabis," Vireo CEO Ari Hoffnung said in a press statement. "Patients should never feel guilty or ashamed for using a product recommended by their physicians."

With the certification, Vireo will become the only legal marijuana distributor in New York state to obtain a kosher stamp of approval. 

So what is the deal? Maybe you've heard of pork and shellfish, but marijuana? A plant? How can a plant not be kosher?

From a structural perspective, there's not much standing in the way, Rabbi Philip Weintraub of Congregation Agudas Israel in Newburgh, New York, told Mic.

"Vegetables are kosher," he said, noting that the key sticking point on the farm would be to ensure that no bugs or insect remains were left on the final product.  

According to Weintraub, the really tough questions arise later. "Pot as a medicine is very different than pot as a recreational drug," he said. According to widely accepted conventions of Jewish traditions, keeping kosher and most other laws can be broken for medical reasons. To save a life, for example, a Jewish doctor can perform surgery on the Sabbath, a time which traditionally forbids work. The sentiment was backed by other rabbis interviewed by Vice on the subject earlier this year and goes a long way to explaining the Orthodox Union's decision. 

Smoking for pleasure, though, remains off-limits. "Mind-altering substances are not exactly ideal," Weintraub said. "You can't do mitzvahs [observe the commandments] if you're high."

Source: Mic/Facebook

And that's the bad news for those craving a kosher weed brownie.

"Recreationally," Weintraub said, "it just doesn't seem like we're there right now."

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Jon Levine

Jon Levine is a staff writer at Mic, covering politics and people. He is based in New York and can be reached at JLevine@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Venezuela's Supreme Court targeted in helicopter attack amid ongoing crisis

The apparent helicopter attack is the latest escalation of an ongoing political crisis.

Iran calls Supreme Court's travel ban decision "racist" and "unfair"

Iranian officials criticized Trump's de-facto Muslim ban this week.

Kshama Sawant on why Seattle needs an independent investigation into the Charleena Lyles shooting

Seattle City Councilperson Kshama Sawant, member of Socialist Alternative party, discusses the Charleena Lyles investigation, tenant voter registration, why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and more.

The EPA seeks to undo clean water rule, putting 117 million Americans' water at risk

The new rule could have "long-reaching consequences for everyone living in the United States.”

This small Ohio town might stop treating heroin overdoses to save the city money

"People will die. It's plain and simple."

Design for New York's first official LGBTQ monument is unveiled

Here's our first look at New York's new monument to LGBT communities.

Venezuela's Supreme Court targeted in helicopter attack amid ongoing crisis

The apparent helicopter attack is the latest escalation of an ongoing political crisis.

Iran calls Supreme Court's travel ban decision "racist" and "unfair"

Iranian officials criticized Trump's de-facto Muslim ban this week.

Kshama Sawant on why Seattle needs an independent investigation into the Charleena Lyles shooting

Seattle City Councilperson Kshama Sawant, member of Socialist Alternative party, discusses the Charleena Lyles investigation, tenant voter registration, why Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 and more.

The EPA seeks to undo clean water rule, putting 117 million Americans' water at risk

The new rule could have "long-reaching consequences for everyone living in the United States.”

This small Ohio town might stop treating heroin overdoses to save the city money

"People will die. It's plain and simple."

Design for New York's first official LGBTQ monument is unveiled

Here's our first look at New York's new monument to LGBT communities.