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Cannabis Goes Kashrut: Israel and Orthodox Conversion

Israel’s medical cannabis market is one of the best in the world, thanks to Israeli scientists who have done groundbreaking research. More than 100,000 cannabis-licensed patients are available. There is also evidence to suggest that Jews used cannabis religiously for many years. 

But so far, modern Orthodox, or even slightly less observant Jews—both in Israel and beyond—have been leery of taking cannabis, even as medicine. It is Israel who usually has final say in these types of matters.

Why? Cannabis as medicine had not been certified as kosher—or kashrut—before in Israel (although burgeoning attempts exist in the U.S.). The term “kosher” refers to regulations that prohibit observant Jews from eating certain foods and require that others be prepared in a certain manner—in other words according to Jewish law.

This is now different. A kashrut certification for Seach Medical Group was issued—and further was discovered as the company listed on the stock exchange. While this has not helped the performance of the company’s stock, it may well herald a new day in Israel and beyond for medical cannabis brands with the right certifications and market reach. Namely, more Jewish people—including those who are Orthodox—may be inclined to use medical cannabis. They can eat kosher products even on Shabbat and other holy days if they are kosher.

Is Cannabis Kosher?

This is an important issue for cannabis users (and it’s not only in Israel). Legalization has created grey areas that make it more complicated. For example, some observant Jews would not take any cannabis—particularly if it had any THC in it on Shabbat (the weekly holy day that exists from sundown on Friday until Sunday morning). Jewish law does NOT require that medications be designated kosher. But, in life-threatening situations it is highly recommended.

It is now clear that marijuana companies can be certified as Israeli kosher. 

This will increase domestic use of cannabis for medical purposes, but it will open up the possibility of discussing the topic outside the country. Start with the U.S.

Type the words “kosher” and “cannabis” into your browser, and you will see that there is already a trend in the U.S. (starting with California). It is also popular in New York.

What certification could be used to make a unique and highly reliable test of purity or healthiness? This certification will also create unique brand recognition and market entry opportunities.

Kashrut: Does Cannabis need Kashrut Certification

The cannabis plant isn’t kosher certified. A rabbinic agency will issue this stamp of approval. It verifies ingredients and production processes, as well as the facility. It is a Talmudic GMP that meets ISO.

It’s usually used to treat meat and other food processing areas. But, this can be applied to medicine.

This certification is kosher for both Israel’s medicinal and edibles markets. As large numbers of people can now enjoy the products, this will drive sales. Recent reports from Israel show that most of the population is religious. 42 percent identify themselves as secular.

This means in the United States that, beyond federal (or state-level) cannabis certifications, every company wishing to enter the Jewish markets of states such as New York should also consider getting this type certification.

Global Jewish Cannabis Market

You will be able to find special kosher sections in any German supermarket. For their rituals, Jews in Germany have been known to import New York-made wine from New York.

There is a huge global niche market for kosher products—and with just a few destination points outside of Israel.

It all starts with the U.S.

In the U.S., 2.4% of the population is Jewish, and 21% of New York identifies as such—the largest concentration of Jews outside of Israel. California is second, home to 1.5 million Jews. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the other top five states.

These are people who can be targeted. This conversation is possible because of the approval by the Rabbinic Council in Israel for a cannabis medication.