Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich, a prominent orthodox rabbi from the Israeli town of Mazkeret Batya, has issued a religious ruling declaring medical marijuana to be perfectly kosher. The ruling says that if a religious Jew is prescribed marijuana to treat symptoms of a disease or to limit the amount of pain being suffered then smoking medical marijuana takes on the stature of a religious commandment.
Rabbi Zalmanovich clarified in his ruling that a religious Jew who smokes marijuana solely to experience a high or similar feeling solely for pleasure than that activity is actually forbidden under religious law. Rabbi Zalmanovich has written extensively on the subject of alcoholism as it relates to religious law. His rulings are widely cited by those looking to find a happy medium between social drinking and using alcohol as a crutch.
Rabbi Zalmanovich issued his latest ruling concerning medical marijuana in order to clarify a recent ruling by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, in which a representative told an Israeli cannabis magazine that “If you smoke it, there is no problem whatsoever”. Rabbi Zalmaniovich said in reference to to casual marijuana usage “Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden. However, if the drug is administered to relieve pain, then the person giving it is performing a mitzvah”, meaning a good deed commanded by faith. He further went on to say the person using the drug is using it “in a kosher fashion” if only used as prescribed.
According to the Israeli Health Ministry, more than 11,000 Israelis are prescribed one of the various forms of marijuana to treat more than 30 pre approved health ailments including Parkinson’s Disease, Cancer, Chronic Pain, ALS and Multiple Sclerosis. Israel distributes more legal marijuana per capita than any other European country. Israeli Health Minister Yael German said that “Contrary to popular misconceptions, “Israel distributes nearly 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of cannabis per month. The Netherlands in comparison only provides a small portion, 330 pounds (150 kilograms), per year”.