Passover the doobie: Top rabbi rules that marijuana is kosher for Jewish holiday

© Steve Dipaola
Israel's leading ultra-orthodox rabbi gave those celebrating Passover - a Jewish holiday which has strict dietary laws - some food for thought by ruling that marijuana is actually kosher for the eight-day festival, if used medicinally.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, referred to as “the leading living ultra-Orthodox halachic authority," took many by surprise when he said that marijuana can be both eaten or smoked during the festival.

He explained that while in normal circumstances marijuana is part of a religiously restricted group of foods banned on Passover, it is permitted if used for medical purposes, the Times of Israel reported.

After smelling the leaves of a cannabis plant, Rabbi Kanievsky, along with another prominent Orthodox authority, Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, decided that the plant had a “healing smell” and blessed it.

Kosher medical marijuana is already certified in Israel, with 11,000 people legally receiving cannabis.

Passover, which starts on Friday with a holiday meal known as Seder and ends on April 30, commemorates the flight of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.

Kosher medical marijuana may soon be sold to Orthodox Jews in New York State, following the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes in half of US states over the past few years.

Earlier this year, Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher certification agency, held “preliminary discussions” with agencies keen to gain kosher status for the medical use of marijuana, the Jewish Daily Forward website reported. The Orthodox Union “would not have a problem certifying” medical marijuana, Rabbi Moshe Elefant said.