Marijuana… not for Passover

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Marijuana is not kosher for Passover

Every Sunday school student knows Pesach for its ban on food that rises, but a growing number of Jews are asking whether the holiday also precludes them from getting high.  Hemp has increasingly been spotted on the list of kitniyot, or legumes, that Ashkenazi Jews abstain from eating during Pesach, according to several influential rabbinical Web sites, including kashrut.com.

But not everyone agrees that hemp qualifies for the ban, and the debate has led many to question the definition of kitniyot. While hemp isn’t a kitchen staple for most people, hemp oil can be found in a number of hygiene products and in some alternative baked goods.  But it’s hemp’s more notorious cousin, commonly known as marijuana, that has set the sparks flying.

As debate over the kitniyot tradition has gathered steam among rabbinic circles, many are looking at hemp as a case in point of why the practice of abstention needs to be reexamined. The ban on kitniyot during Pessah began because rabbis were concerned that certain legumes would come into contact with the grains forbidden during the holiday. Farmers often grew wheat and rice in adjacent fields, and families frequently stored all of their grains and legumes in the same containers.

The kitniyot tradition only applies to Jews of Ashkenazi descent, since Sephardic Jewry never adopted the practice. Of the dozen rabbis whom The Jerusalem Post questioned on this issue, none offered a conclusive statement about how hemp should be classified for Pesach.  As Rabbi Daniel Kohn of Bat Ayin explained, the issue ultimately boils down to an individual decision by each rabbi about whether hemp seeds themselves could be considered edible. If a rabbi decides that the seeds are edible, then hemp – and, by extension, marijuana – would not be considered permissible for Pesach.  (read more)


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