Can you smoke pot during Passover? According to one Jewish leader in Israel, the answer is yes.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a top Orthodox authority, said this week that it's OK for people to eat or smoke marijuana during the upcoming Jewish festival, the Times of Israel reported. Usually, the drug would be part of the kitniyot family of legumes banned during Passover, but Kanievsky sniffed marijuana leaves Tuesday and declared them to be kosher if used in a medical context. He and Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein also said they had a "healing smell," according to the Times.
Passover, which starts at sundown Friday and lasts through April 30, is a spring observance that recognizes the freeing of Israelite slaves in ancient Egypt, according to Chabad.org. Followers typically don't eat or have leavened grain. They usually also avoid kitniyot, which includes corn and rice, though a group of conservative rabbis recently loosened the restrictions.
Kanievsky's ruling this week was the result of a request by marijuana advocacy group Sian, Haaretz reported.
The is-marijuana-kosher debate has been playing out in the Jewish community over many years. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who died in the 1980s, forbid people from using marijuana on the grounds that it destroys users' minds and can be addictive. But in 2013, Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich said medical marijuana could be considered kosher if it was used to relieve pain, the Israel National News reported.
Medical marijuana is legal in Israel, where an estimated 11,000 people use it.
"Anything that can be demonstrated to reduce suffering, especially of a bodily illness, or one of the mind, would be more or less kosher," Ajay Chaudhary, a Columbia University religious studies expert, told VICE last year. "Well, I mean 'kosher' in the colloquial sense, in this case ... If it's going to save a life, or even alleviate suffering, or you're dying of starvation, even a ham sandwich on Yom Kippur is OK."
Kanievsky's ruling inspired several blog posts about how to incorporate pot into Seder meals. Kveller, for example, recommended repurposing the traditional activity of washing to "wash your hands in preparation for the rolling of more joints."