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And this is where kosher certification comes in. Because for many Jewish people, the legality or illegality of cannabis is only half the problem. The other half is they cannot know if what they are consuming is kosher or not—if its production abides by Jewish dietary laws.
If you’re reading this, you might be thinking—huh. How can cannabis, or any plant, be kosher or non-kosher? Kosher is just about pork and seafood and not mixing meat and dairy, right? Well, not exactly. Kosher laws specify what we can eat (cloven-hoofed animals, like cows; and sea creatures that have scales and fins, like fish), and excludes everything else. Bugs, for instance, are out—just like shrimps are. So, if you were chewing on raw cannabis leaves, and these leaves were infested with bugs, and you accidentally ingested those—that would be a transgression.
Luckily, people don’t do that—the closest they get is drying and smoking the flower tops which does not present a kosher issue. Any insects caught up in the process are incinerated, and anyway, you’re not swallowing them. So that’s not a problem. The problem begins with more processed forms of cannabis. For instance, gummies and capsules: both are often made with gelatin, which is basically melted cow bones—or even pig bones. Not appetizing to begin with, but the issue for us is that even a cloven-hoofed animal is not kosher unless it’s been ritually slaughtered. So, if you’re consuming cannabis in gummy form, you have no way of knowing that the gelatin is kosher. We are currently working with four processing plants that are converting to pectin—which is plant based, so it’s in the business’s own interest: no one actually wants to be eating melted bones, so pectin-based will appeal not just to Jews, but also to vegetarians, vegans, Hindus—and, of course, Muslims, who already often seek out kosher labels because if something is kosher, it’s also guaranteed to be halal. Oils, like vaping oils or CBD, are a different problem, because some oils are extracted using ethanol, which comes from grapes—and there’s a whole set of kashrut laws that deals with grape-derived alcohol, because of how important wine is in Jewish rituals, going all the way back to the Temple. A kashrut label also tells you that a different kind of extraction has been used.
A changing world