In a first for medical marijuana, the Orthodox Union (OU) has certified Vireo Health of New York’s non-smokable cannabis products as kosher, the company announced on Tuesday, December 29.
The Orthodox Union is not only the largest kosher certification in the world, it’s also the most widely recognized. Vireo on the other hand, is one of the five companies licensed to provide medical cannabis by the New York State Department of Health.
In New York, the state’s medical marijuana program is scheduled to go into effect next month with the opening of four cannabis dispensaries located in Queens, Albany, Binghamton and White Plains — all of which are scheduled to open in January, during the first week of the new month.
OU Kosher CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack indicated in a statement that the agency is “pleased” to award Vireo’s medical marijuana products with kosher status while noting that “Judaism prioritizes health and encourages the use of medicine designed to improve one’s health or reduce pain.”
We are pleased to grant kosher certification to Vireo Health of New York’s medical cannabis products which were developed to alleviate pain and suffering in accordance with the New York State Compassionate Care Act (…) Judaism prioritizes health and encourages the use of medicine designed to improve one’s health or reduce pain. 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.
Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the COO of OU Kosher, noted that “Jewish law clearly sets aside the kosher status of a medicine” in life or death situations, “but in other cases, it is preferable and sometimes recommended that a medicine be certified kosher.” Subsequently, Elefant indicated that OU Kosher commends Vireo “for taking this step and making this commitment to the Jewish community.”
NBC News reports New York’s Jewish population to the largest in the nation.
According to Vireo, the Orthodox Union’s recent kosher certification of its medical marijuana products marks the first time such a product has been deemed kosher.
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