The Jewish Faith And Marijuana

The Jewish Faith And Marijuana

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As autumn leaves begin to turn, it is also the Jewish high holy season. It is time for reflection, celebration, being thankful for blessing and to honor the history of the Jewish people.  An ancient tradition upheld around the world and honored in the hearts and souls of millions. Rosh Hashanah is a burst of celebration for the New Year and peaks with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  Fasting, family, prayers and more celebrate both holidays. During the high holiday days, the faithful chill, contemplate, and cast for true meaning.  Which begs the question, what about the Jewish faith and marijuana.

smoking marijuana
Photo by Liubomyr Vorona/Getty Images

In the United States, the Jewish population is over-represented among the recreational cannabis using population. The reasons are thought to be the urban pattern of residence, the large association of Jewish residents in the academic milieu in metropolitan areas as well as the urban avant-garde movements. And Jewish families are thought to be less authoritarian and more tolerant toward “intellectual experimentation”.

In Canada, especially in Toronto, differences between Jews and Christians with regard to attitudes toward cannabis usage were detected in the high school population, in which surveys show that more than twice as many Jewish students have used cannabis as Catholic ones.

RELATED: Israel Is A Global Leader In Cannabis

On of the largest marijuana product companies, Colorado based Wana Brands, have their edibles certified by Whole Kosher Services, a company based in Houston. They lead a long list of companies who have passed inspection.  During fasting, you can not smoke as you would have to light a fire and edibles must be kosher to avoid impurities.

a close up of an open book on a bed

Ancient Israel archaeology, lexicography and paleobotany researchers generally believe in the Hebrew Bible cannabis is not documented or mentioned in early Judaism. The primary advocate of a religious use of cannabis plant in early Judaism was Sula Benet, who claimed the plant kaneh bosem קְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible, and used in the holy anointing oil of the Book of Exodus, was in fact cannabis. Many other scholars are more skeptical or just disagree.

In a 1973 opinion, Orthodox rabbi Moshe Feinstein stated that cannabis was not permitted under Jewish law, due to its harmful effects. In 2013, Orthodox rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich stated that medical, but not recreational, cannabis is permitted. The population, it seems doesn’t fully agree considering the use of cannabis.

RELATED: Science Explains How Marijuana Inspires Awe 

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City recently had an exhibition “Am Yisrael High: The Story of Jews and Cannabis”. So the conversation is ongoing for intellectual discussion.

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