Federal authorities still consider cannabis a schedule one drug. But orthodox Jews answer to a Higher authority.
Orthodox Jewish authorities have declared cannabis and Marijuana Kosher (Parve) for Passover and all year, reports the Israel National News.
After sniffing the leaves, Rabbi Kanievksy and Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein said that the Cannabis plant has a “healing smell,” according to the Times of Israel, and blessed the leaves.
For the eight-days of Passover, Jews avoid leavened bread and any food made with wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats.
Foods called “kitniot” – which includes rice, millet, corn and legumes – are also forbidden in most households.
However, as public perceptions of marijuana soften in America, a parallel evolution has taken place within the Orthodox Jewish world.
Once expressly forbidden by the leading American haredi religious authority, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in a ruling made some four decades ago, rabbinic opinions on the drug have softened in recent years.
In January, a decision by the Orthodox Union to certify medical marijuana as kosher capped years of change, marking the first prominent legitimization of the drug in the Orthodox world.
But the certification related to pot consumed for medical purposes, leaving recreational marijuana use something of a grey area.
In 2013 a pair of Israeli rabbis permitted the use of marijuana. But while Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich permitted the drug only for medical use, Rabbi Haggai Bar-Giora ruled that smoking marijuana was allowed, whether as medicine or recreation.
This week, however, supporters of the drug received the endorsement of Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, one of the most prominent haredi rabbinic authorities in Israel, B’Hadrei Haderim reports.
Rabbi Kanievsky, speaking specifically with regard to the permissibility of the drug during the Passover holiday, ruled that marijuana was indeed kosher for Passover – except for Ashkenazi Jews, who abstain from consuming kitniyot (legumes).
But, however, Kanievsky said that even Ashkenazi Jews were permitted to use marijuana during Passover, if it served a medical need.
In making the distinction, Rabbi Kanievsky ruled even recreational use of the drug permissible.