Kosher weed anyone? A Quebec medical marijuana company is calling itself the first in Canada to gain kosher certification for its cannabis products.
Just in time for the Rosh Hashana celebrations of the Jewish New Year on September 20, Gatineau-based Hydropothecary has announced that its processed medical marijuana has been certified as conforming to Jewish dietary law by Ottawa kosher certification agency, Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut.
“Kosher certification is important to Hydropothecary because it reflects our emphasis on rigorous testing, independent third-party oversight and our focus on easy-to-use product innovations,” says Hydropothecary CEO and co-founder, Sébastien St-Louis in a press release. “As the only medical marijuana company in Canada with current kosher-certified processed products, we take great pride in having the support of the Council for Kashrut,” he said.
Last month, the federally licensed cannabis producer announced that it will begin construction of a massive 250,000 sq. ft. greenhouse on the company’s 65 acre facility, about 40 minutes north of Ottawa. The expansion will require raising $20 million in funding and is expected to increase the company’s production six-fold, up to a capacity of 25,000 kilograms of dried cannabis per year, according to the St-Louis.
“The completion of this new state-of-the-art facility will allow us to continue delivering the innovative and high quality products our customers have come to expect, while we continue to decrease our cost per gram towards our goal of $1 per gram,” said Sebastien St-Louis, Co-founder and CEO.
Earlier this year, a Health Canada spot check of Hydropothecary facilities found evidence of the banned pesticide myclobutanil, used to kill mildew, on some of the company’s cannabis plants. Hydropothecary has since stated that the problem stemmed from unapproved use of the pesticide by one of its employees and it has taken steps to prevent the problem from occurring again. Hydropothecary issued a recall on contaminated products sold between July 2015 and March 2017.
The kosher designation represents a “symbol of trust,” according to Rabbi Levy Teitlebaum of Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut, who says that there are many steps involved in granting certification, including inspection of facilities, an audit of cleaning protocols as well as on-site inspections throughout the year.
“This is a rigorous, independent, third-party certification process that goes from A to Z,” says Rabbi Teitlebaum. “Hydropothecary’s products not only qualify, but certification is gladly given because it’s important for what’s needed in this new sector,” he said.
Last year, a leading rabbi from Belarus proclaimed marijuana used for medical reasons to be kosher for Passover.
The ruling from Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky was a turnaround for those of the Jewish faith, as past accounts had claimed that marijuana should be considered part of the kitniyot, those plants such as rice and lentils that are forbidden during Passover. Rabbi Kanievsky maintained that although the taking drugs to “escape the world” is strictly forbidden, marijuana could be kosher if used for medical purposes. The rabbi was reported to have blessed some cannabis leaves that were presented to him.