"…I have long learned that even the most benign products like water do need certification because of the complexities of modern mass production. Second, in a generation that is seeking to ingest everything kosher, why not offer the kosher certification, especially if the manufacturer seeks and desires the kosher certification as a marketing tool? …I wonder whether those whose knee-jerk reaction is to mock the kosher certification of a product that on the surface may not require kosher certification are in fact doing a disservice to kosher as a whole.…"
Above: Menachem Lubinsky
Menachem Lubinsky, a former senior Agudath Israel of America lay leader who works as a PR flack-slash-marketing-guru for the kosher food industry, has written a defense of kosher certification for non-edible medical marijuana.
Lubinsky was a leading defender of Agriprocessors and the Rubashkin family during their repeated humane slaughter scandals. Most of that defense came by fudging the truth – or simply misstating them or ignoring them altogether.
And that is essentially what Lubinsky is doing now with medical marijuana in Kosher Today column:
When Coor’s Beer obtained the kosher certification of the Orthodox Union many years ago, some immediately argued that beer was inherently kosher and did not require certification. The same argument surfaced with water and many other products that kashrus-observing Jews may have consumed without certification.The latest controversy is over none other than marijuana which the OU recently certified as kosher for medicinal purposes. Once again there was the argument that if used for medicinal purposes marijuana is no different than any medicine that can be used for a sick person without kosher certification. I have long learned that even the most benign products like water do need certification because of the complexities of modern mass production. Second, in a generation that is seeking to ingest everything kosher, why not offer the kosher certification, especially if the manufacturer seeks and desires the kosher certification as a marketing tool? Wouldn’t someone who has observed kashrus all their lives and is so sick that they require the marijuana to ease the pain be somewhat comforted in the fact that the marijuana is kosher certified? In recent years, many manufacturers of over the counter medications have opted for kosher certification and wouldn’t it be nice if all medications were kosher as well?
I wonder whether those whose knee-jerk reaction is to mock the kosher certification of a product that on the surface may not require kosher certification are in fact doing a disservice to kosher as a whole. What is wrong with a kosher certification that simply assures the customer that indeed there is nothing to worry about the kashrus of this product, even if it is water? Perhaps they won’t have to worry of what else was produced on that line at the bottling plant or whether the cleaning agents were indeed treif. I see this as a testimony to an extremely kashrus-conscious generation, which is nothing to sneeze at. Why make kosher consumers feel that the kashrus process is not genuine? Even a sick patient who can certainly rely on all the leniency of the rabbis wouldn’t mind knowing that what is ingested is kosher.
- Fails to tell his readers the medical marijuana in question will be produced in New York State, where all edible medical marijuana is illegal. The products will all be smoked or vaped, and therefore, because no actual eating is involved, there is no reason at all for these products to need kosher supervision.
- Claims unflavored filtered water needs kosher supervision when it doesn't. Whatever products are used to clean production lines are not edible and give the water an off taste, which is why production lines are flushed after cleaning. Therefore, in kosher law terms, a) there is no non-kosher taste in the water, b) the cleaning products are not edible as halakha (Orthodox Jewish law) defines the term, and c) even if they were edible and were actually non-kosher, there is not enough of these cleaning products in the bottled water to effect its kosher status under the laws of bittul and ta'aruvot.
- Claims that products consumed through swallowing whole, like pills and most medications, need to be kosher supervised when halakha says that anything consumed in way that is not derech achilah (the normal way of eating) does not require kosher supervision. Halakha is very clear about this. So a pill that is swallowed whole does not need kosher supervision, smoked marijuana does not need kosher supervision, and even intravenous nutrition products don't need kosher supervision (although a case can be made with regard to IV nutrition that if possible without compromising the health of the patient, a kosher supervised product would be better).
- Does not tell his readers that the OU supervises laundry detergent and bleach, neither of which are edible and neither of which need – and neither of which should have – kosher supervision.
- Implies medical marijuana is only prescribed for extremely ill patients when in reality it is also prescribed for patients with many chronic illnesses halakha does not always define as immediately life-threatening. (In California, it is often prescribed for PTSD, for example, and for some people with physical pain caused by non-life-threatening chronic illness.)
Kosher medical marijuana is likely a money-grab meant to enrich the OU and pave the way for various hasidic businessmen to get licenses to produce "glatt kosher" medical marijuana in New York State and elsewhere, which is likely the only way they would have entry into the business. That Lubinsky is participating in this (for want of a better word) scam is shameful.
[Hat Tip: Ban The 'rabbis'.]