Following the legalization of medical marijuana in New York comes an announcement from one of the five licensed growers in the state that it is set to sell the first certified kosher medical marijuana.
Yes, that's right, you can light up a kosher joint from Vireo Health of New York, the only cannabis company to have their weed certified by the Orthodox Union, the largest certifying body of kosher products in the world.
This is big news, especially in the Jewish community of New York, the nation's largest population. Judaism gives premium to health and the utilization of medicine to alleviate pain. Thus, a kosher certification is extremely important to the segment that strictly follows religious restrictions.
"Using medical cannabis products recommended by a physician should not be regarded as a chet, a sinful act, but rather as a mitzvah, an imperative, a commandment,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the CEO of OU Kosher.
Under the Compassionate Care Act, medical cannabis may be used to treat illnesses such as cancer, HIV and AIDS, epilepsy, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and Huntington's disease.
Although the cannabis plant is not required to be approved as kosher, medical products derived from it must undergo ingredient tests before being certified.
Sometime this month, the medical cannabis products of Vireo Health will don the trademark symbol of the OU, a U inside the O. These products include oils, capsules, and cartridges that will be made for sale in soon-to-open New York dispensaries in Queens, White Plains, Binghamton and Albany.
Currently, the data on the number of Jews in New York who smoke or ingest cannabis is still unavailable. However, Vireo Health is still pleased to get the certification better provide the needs of its Jewish clients.
Ari Hoffnung, the CEO of Vireo Health, even said that the OU certification will also help "combat unfortunate stigmas associated with medical cannabis."