Rabbi Board Says Kosher Certification Not Needed For Cannabis Oils

Jewish Canadians can smoke easier now that Canada’s largest kosher certification agency has decided medical cannabis doesn’t need to be kosher.

The board of rabbis with the Kashruth Council of Canada debated on whether cannabis oils needed to be certified as kosher after an application from licensed producer MedReleaf.

Kosher foods are those that conform to strict Jewish guidelines as what is fit for consumption and how the food is prepared.

The group ultimately decided that, as medicine, medicinal cannabis falls under the principles of Judaism that say the preservation of human life overrides other religious concerns.

“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 Kashruth managing director Richard Rabkin.

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

MedReleaf chief executive officer Neil Closner is Jewish and said he was proud that his company was able to have the certification group consider the issue.

“We’re pleased with the outcome that from their perspective, (medical) cannabis is considered kosher for all consumers,” Closner said.

Other kosher review boards have given different opinions on cannabis in the past, Kosher Check, an agency in B.C. decided to certify edible products in 2014.

As a plant, dried cannabis is automatically kosher but Rabbi Mendy Feigelstock said edible products, such as oils or cookies, should be reviewed as the production process may include non-kosher animal products such as gelatin or insects.

“There are people who are suffering and unfortunately sometimes the only medication left for them is marijuana, which could ease their symptoms, and to force a person to smoke it seems silly,” Feigelstock said. “If it’s easier to ingest it either in an oil or some other edible, then there’s no reason why that person should not be able to ingest it kosher, if that’s something that they’re careful about.”