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Appealing to a Higher Authority — Kosher Cannabis

Kosher certifiers could become the de facto regulators of a burgeoning new business; will they step up to meet the challenge?
Illustration courtesy of the Forward/Nikki Casey
Illustration courtesy of the Forward/Nikki Casey
Dr. David Zvi Kalman is a research fellow in the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Kogod Research Center. He is a scholar, writer, and entrepreneur working at the intersection of technology, religion, and art. In addition to his work at the Shalom Hartman Institute, he has held research and consulting roles at Sinai and Synapses and the Sapir Institute. He is the owner of Print-O-Craft Press, an independent publishing house that has released books including Jessica Deutsch’s

“For both legal and cultural reasons, American kosher agencies have followed American government policies. In 1973, shortly after Congress classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein issued a letter in which he denounced marijuana as both counter-cultural and disrespectful to one’s parents. But as states have legalized and the federal government has relaxed rules for everything but THC, kosher agencies have quickly moved to certify all kinds of cannabis products with an enthusiasm that is directly correlated with federal policy. (Notably, the story in Canada is very different: Despite federal legalization of marijuana in 2018, no major Canadian kashrut organization has certified either CBD or THC.)

The biggest shift has been around CBD products, whose acceptability is no longer even controversial. Today, all of the “big five” kosher certifiers will certify CBD products, though not all do so in practice. Certification of THC remains rare, but consensus seems to be forming that products designed for medical use can be certified. The Orthodox Union, the world’s largest kosher certifier, certifies a small number of THC products; Whole Kosher Services, an agency based in the southwest that pioneered THC certification, certifies a few non-medical THC products, as well, though it doesn’t expect this side of the business to grow.”

Read the full article in the Forward

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