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Marijuana is kosher for Passover, leading rabbi rules

Cannabis may be used for medical reasons during Passover, despite previously being forbidden

Elsa Vulliamy
Friday 22 April 2016 14:51 BST

Consuming marijuana for medical reasons is kosher for Passover, a leading rabbi has ruled, after being presented with cannabis leaves and told that they have a ‘healing’ smell.

Among Ashkenazi Jews, who are of usually of Central and Eastern European descent, the drug would be considered to be a member of the kitniyot – a group of legumes and grains which are forbidden during the festival of Passover, including rice, peas and lentils.

But Belarusian rabbi Chaim Kanievsky has said that marijuana may be used by Jews from all backgrounds on Passover if it is used for medical purposes, The Times of Israel reports.

The 88-year-old rabbi, who lives in Bnei Brak, an Israeli city east of Tel Aviv, can be seen with another prominent rabbi in a video uploaded to YouTube by pro-legalisation group Cannabis Israel in which they are presented with cannabis leaves and partake in the leaves being blessed.

Watch Chaim Kanievsky give his blessing:

In 2013, Orthodox rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich ruled that distributing and smoking marijuana is kosher, but only for medicinal purposes. Using the drug for fun, he said, was forbidden.

Rabbi Zalmanovich has reportedly said that “taking drugs to escape the world” is “certainly forbidden” but people using it for medical reasons are using it in a kosher way.

Marijuana is illegal for recreational use under Israeli law, but is prescribed for patients with certain conditions, including patients undergoing chemotherapy and those experiencing chronic pain from Parkinson’s disease.

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