“I’m only here to make (cannabis) available for people who want it medicinally,” he explains. “What people do with it recreationally? That’s none of my business.”
It was here that Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, first isolated the THC and CBD molecules in the 1960s. His work ultimately led to the Israeli government backing more medicinal marijuana research than anyone in the world in the 1990s, with CNN’s ubiquitous Sanjay Gupta dubbing it the “medical marijuana research capital of the world.”
Maser’s line of drinks was certified by Rabbi Cohen and is now available at recreational dispensaries in California. Customers can even pay for them in advance and have them delivered on Friday night or Saturday, like a Sabbath elevator for cannabis.
In order to be certified kosher, every raw material a cannabis producer uses must be certified as kosher, as must all of the equipment it uses. This means the raw materials cannot have come from non-kosher sources, and the equipment can never have been used for non-kosher materials.
Cohen’s role in the cannabis community stems from his personal struggle. Six years ago his son was diagnosed with brain cancer, and after going through chemotherapy and radiation in his home state of Texas, Cohen’s son relapsed again. After reading some of the groundbreaking cannabis research coming from Israel, Cohen took his family to California to get his son a medical prescription. The therapy worked, and his son improved.
While Texas law didn’t allow for medicinal marijuana, because of its medical properties, Jewish law now does. While this doesn’t mean all rabbis will grant kosher certifications, it did lead one of Israel’s leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis to declare marijuana kosher for Passover. That means it’s now more acceptable during that time of year than beer.
Though Tevye, Yetne, and Motel the Tailor may never have considered the Jewish dietary implications of cannabis, it’s a real issue in 2019. With medicinal marijuana now legal in a majority of states in the US – as well as Israel – and recreational legalization on the rise, finding cannabis that’s certified as kosher is a real concern for observant Jews. And even goyim are looking for the big K symbol on their cannabis like they might on a pack of hot dogs, a clear indication of a quality product.
Edibles, Cohen says, are a rabbinical grey area, since they can be viewed as recreational or medicinal. And while he only advocates for medicinal use, he’s not blind to its other uses either.
But the family had to return to Texas, and when an illegal shipment of medicinal cannabis was held up at the post office, his son was out of options. His son declined, slipped into a coma, and ultimately passed away.
Marijuana can be kosher. These are the brands you need to know, Jewish religious laws, and what to be aware of before buying kosher cannabis.