Does my BUT look big in this? Is cannabis kosher..
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Does my BUT look big in this? Is cannabis kosher..

One big issue, two opposite opinions, and this week, we look at taking crime out of cannabis

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Cannabis is bad news, and about as kosher as a bacon butty. Jews should get high only on their achievements and aspirations.

Forget the bongs and reefers. Jews are instructed to be “of good health in body and mind,” and to eschew “indulgences”.

Granted, more and more places around the world may be decriminalising Mary Jane smoked for pleasure, but this does not mean that we should accept the weed and its apathetic effects.

That should be the case no matter how many giddy Israeli rabbis bless as “kosher for Passover” the green leaves before them, as an esteemed 88-year-old did recently.

Medical marijuana? Fine. It’s arguably a mitzvah. But pot as a pastime? Please! It’s neither recreational nor spiritual.

In the words of Yoseph Needelman, author of Cannabis Chassidis: “Pot alienates you from your responsibilities and needs.”

And, latching on to the inevitable analogy, he adds:“It’s not like alcohol, which makes you feel warm.”

Jews should consider it forbidden fruit for good reason. Let’s keep our High Holy Days more Holy than High. If you want a stimulant, chocolate’s good.

Give the bong the boot, and stick to L’Chaim, not L’Higher.

BUT

Others say that’s yesterday’s view. The world’s a-changin’. In years to come, we’ll realise we lived through one of history’s most senseless prohibitions. If a rabbi reacts with disgust to your ganja confessional, remember that the advice is context-dependent, i.e. it’s currently illegal here.

But context is everything. In the past, rabbis were far more enthusiastic. It comes down to place and time. Do you think the 19th or early 20th century Jews of Baghdad, or Yemen or Morocco thought twice about smoking a bit of top-drawer hashish?

Medical marijuana will force it full circle. Israel already has eight approved cannabis-growing companies, which will soon benefit from exports worth hundreds of millions of shekels, and next March, CannaTech, the hugely successful International Summit for Accelerating Cannabis Innovation, will be held in Israel, a country dubbed “ground zero for cannabis research”.

In contrast to the UK, where government ministers plug their ears to the deafening swell of sense, an Israeli committee of experts is expected to recommend decriminalisation in the next two months. No one expects social disintegration there as a result. Let’s take a leaf (ahem) out of the Israeli book. Long known for it high-tech, it will soon be known for its “high” tech. L’Chaim!

 

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