Kosher medical marijuana to go on sale in New York after firm secures Jewish dietary certification

The New York company said the certification will remove the stigma that some associate with the use of the drug

There were apparently some people in New York for whom the idea of medical marijuana- in one local parlance - simply wasn’t kosher. Now they can rest easy.

This week it was announced that a company is set to start selling what is believed to be the first certified kosher medical cannabis and target the the dietary and medical needs of the largest Jewish community in the US.

Vireo Health said its non-smokable medical cannabis products have been certified as conforming to the Jewish dietary law by the Orthodox Union (OU).

The Orthodox Union's symbol will appear on all the products

“Being certified kosher by the OU will not only help us serve the dietary needs of the largest Jewish community in the United States, but also combat unfortunate stigmas associated with medical cannabis,” Ari Hoffnung, the company’s CEO, said in a statement.

“Today’s announcement sends an important message to New Yorkers of all faiths and backgrounds that using medical cannabis to alleviate pain and suffering does not in any way represent an embrace of ‘pot’ culture. Patients should never feel guilty or ashamed for using a product recommended by their physicians.”

Reports suggest that the greater New York area contains a population of 1.54m Jews, and the community long ago established its own traditions, culture and food.

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The Orthodox Union said it awarded certification after inspecting Vireo’s facilities to ensure the marijuana was grown and processed according to kosher standards. 

Rabbi Menachem Genack, chief executive officer of OU Kosher, said that his group was pleased to grant certification.

“Judaism prioritises health and encourages the use of medicine designed to improve one's health or reduce pain,” he said.

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“Using medical cannabis products recommended by a physician should not be regarded as a chet, a sinful act, but rather as a mitzvah, an imperative, a commandment.”

The New York Daily News said Vireo Health was one of five companies chosen by the state to grow and distribute medical cannabis as New York’s programme begins in January.

Politicians and Governor Cuomo had approved the use of medical marijuana in New York in 2014, but gave the local health department 18 months to set up the new scheme.

Having obtained the certification, the company said its oils, vaporisation cartridges and other products would now bear the OU symbol