A higher authority: The rabbinical answer to medical marijuana

It was mid-2015, and the Orthodox Union was in a quandary. New York State was in the process of launching its medical marijuana program, and the OU, one of the world’s largest and most respected kosher certification agencies, had been approached by more than one company eager to get its certification. But could the organization’s rabbis give their stamp of approval to a drug illegal in much of the world? 

“When this question of if we should certify began, I was having a meeting in my home with a prominent rabbi about a different topic altogether,” recounts Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the COO of the OU’s kashrut division. “This rabbi overheard me having a phone conversation about it and he tells me that his wife suffers from chronic back pain, and the only thing that keeps her from not suffering terrible, excruciating pain is the fact that she has marijuana.”


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