Prominent Rabbi Rules Cannabis Kosher for Passover

A major Ashkenazi rabbi has ruled that using cannabis for medical purposes is kosher for Passover.

In the past, cannabis has been included in the group of legumes, or kitniyos, which, until last December, were banned during Passover (grains remain forbidden).

The Times of Israel, though, has reported that Belarusian rabbi Chaim Kanievsky said that Jews of any lineage may use the drug for medical purposes this Passover.

In a video uploaded to YouTube by the pro-legalization group Cannabis Israel, Rabbi Kanievsky, an 88-year resident of Bnei Brak, a city east of Tel Aviv, blesses a group of cannabis leaves. In the video, two Jewish men, among them another prominent rabbi, inform Kanievsky that the plant and its odor are medicinal before blessing the leaves.

There is precedent for the ruling: Orthodox rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich ruled in 2013 that cannabis was kosher if used medicinally. He said that taking drugs to escape the world is “certainly forbidden,” but that those who use the drug for medical purposes are not breaking Jewish law.

Cannabis use remains illegal for recreational use in Israel, but doctors prescribe it for patients undergoing chemotherapy or experiencing chronic pain.

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