New York is abuzz about a new strain of cannabis that hit dispensary shelves this week. Vireo Health, a marijuana products company, has become the first known business in the pot industry to receive a kosher certification for its weed.
According to New York’s ABC News affiliate News 10, Vireo Health plans to open four medical cannabis dispensaries across New York in 2016.
Vireo Health is one of just five companies licensed to produce and sell medical marijuana in New York.
Their Kosher cannabis received its certification from the Orthodox Union, which is “the world’s largest and most widely recognized kosher certification agency,” according to News 10.
According to Vireo CEO Ari Hoffnung, the availability of kosher-certified medical marijuana goes a long way to help overcome the stigmas some patients feel about turning to cannabis for their healthcare needs.
“Being certified kosher by the OU will not only help us serve the dietary requirements of the largest Jewish community in the United States but also combat unfortunate stigmas associated with medical cannabis,” Vireo CEO Ari Hoffnung said in a news release.
Hoffnung also believes that the respectability associated with kosher products helps combat some of the lingering negative stereotypes related to “pot culture.”
“Today’s announcement sends an important message to New Yorkers of all faiths and backgrounds that using medical cannabis to alleviate pain and suffering does not in any way represent an embrace of ‘pot’ culture.
“Patients should never feel guilty or ashamed for using a product recommended by their physicians,” Hoffnung said.
Religious leaders have also weighed in on the development, praising Vireo’s care for religious patients who are turning to the benefits of medical pot, and informing patients that their medicine isn’t a sin.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the O.U.’s Kashrut Department, said in a statement that Vireo’s medical cannabis products “were developed to alleviate pain and suffering by the New York State Compassionate Care Act.”
The report adds, “Using medical marijuana products recommended by a physician should not be regarded as a ‘chet,’ a sinful act, but rather as a mitzvah, an imperative, a commandment.”
Vireo operates a facility in the upstate town of Perth and will open four retail dispensaries in January, including two in the New York City area