ALBANY — This pot is kosher!
A marijuana grower gearing up for the start of New York’s medical pot program in January announced Wednesday that its products have been certified kosher by the Orthodox Union.
Vireo Health of New York, which was one of five companies chosen by the state to grow and distribute medical pot, said it will be the first “medical cannabis company in the world” to have the “OU” symbol on its oils, vaporization cartridges and other products.
“Being certified kosher by the OU will not only help us serve the dietary needs of the largest Jewish community in the United States, but also combat unfortunate stigmas associated with medical cannabis,” said Vireo CEO Ari Hoffnung.
Vireo operates a growing facility in upstate New York and plans to open a dispensary in Queens sometime in January.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, chief executive officer of OU Kosher, said the organization was pleased to grant its certification to Vireo.
“Judaism prioritizes health and encourages the use of medicine designed to improve one’s health or reduce pain,” Genack said. “Using medical cannabis products recommended by a physician should not be regarded as a chet, a sinful act, but rather as a mitzvah, an imperative, a commandment.”
Gov. Cuomo and lawmakers approved the use of medical marijuana in 2014 but gave the state Health Department 18 months to set up the program in New York.
Under the law, medical marijuana can be used to treat 10 serious illnesses and conditions, including cancer, HIV and AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases, epilepsy, some spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis.
By Glen Blain - The NY Daily News/Dec. 30, 2015