Medical Marijuana: It's Kosher | WYPR

Medical Marijuana: It's Kosher

Apr 24, 2016
Originally published on April 28, 2016 7:54 pm
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

OK, some lighter news now. And yes, I'm going to go there. I'm going to call this a puff piece. This weekend marked the beginning of Passover, where Jews celebrate their freedom from slavery in Egypt. For those who observe, a significant feature of the holiday involves abstaining from leavened bread and other foods to acknowledge the haste of their departure. So there's news that something new has been added to the list of things that can be consumed during the holiday. It's pot - yes, marijuana. Earlier this week, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the leading authorities in the Israeli ultra-Orthodox community, ruled that medicinal marijuana is in fact kosher, meaning that it can be ingested or in this case inhaled over the eight-day celebration of Passover.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

CHAIM KANIEVSKY: (Speaking Hebrew).

MARTIN: In a video posted online this week, Rabbi Kanievsky can be seen conferring with other Rabbi's over a bundle of marijuana leaves, speaking in both Hebrew and Yiddish and ultimately blessing the plant.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

KANIEVSKY: (Speaking Hebrew).

UNIDENTIFIED RABBIS: (Speaking Hebrew).

MARTIN: So how did the ruling come about?

RAOUL WOOTLIFF: A head of the festival, a group in Israel called Tziach (ph), which is a pro-marijuana group, they went to the leading living authority on Jewish law to ask if the consumption of marijuana would be permissible during the festival of Passover.

MARTIN: Raoul Wootliff is Breaking News Editor at The Times of Israel. He says that while the news is amusing, it's not really all that earth-shattering for observant Jews.

WOOTLIFF: The significance is more that such a prominent Rabbi has given this ruling, but I don't think there are many people that were waiting on Seder night unsure about what the status is of their stash.

MARTIN: So if you were thinking of inviting friends over for a puff on Passover, we should emphasize that the decision refers to medicinal marijuana. So there it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PASS THE DUTCHIE")

MUSICAL YOUTH: (Singing) Pass the dutchie on the left-hand side. Pass the dutchie on the left-hand side. It a gonna burn - give me the music, make me jump and prance). It a go done - give me the music make me rock... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.