In bad news for its religious Jewish supporters, Israel’s pro-marijuana party announced Tuesday that pot is forbidden on Passover.
Cannabis is among the substances Jews are forbidden to consume during the week-long festival, which begins Monday, said Michelle Levine, a spokeswoman for the Green Leaf party.
Biblical laws prohibit eating leavened foods during Passover, replacing bread with flat crackers called matza. Later injunctions by European rabbis extended those rules to forbid other foods like beans and corn, and more recent rulings have further expanded the ban to include hemp seeds, which today are found in some health oils – and in marijuana.
Green Leaf is a small political party that supports the legalization of marijuana. Although it is by no means a Jewish religious authority, the group decided to warn its observant supporters away from the drug on Passover.
“You shouldn’t smoke marijuana on the holiday, and if you have it in your house you should get rid of it,” Levine said.
But not everyone needs to give up their habit for the duration of the festival. The rabbinic injunctions banning hemp were never adopted by Sephardic Jews, who come from countries in the Middle East and North Africa. That means there is no reason they can’t keep smoking marijuana, Levine said, except that it remains illegal, despite her party’s best efforts.
Green Leaf contested the last three national elections but never won a seat, despite gaining popularity as a protest vote. Levine, who herself is from a religious family, said that the party has a large number of religious supporters. When her party is elected to the Knesset, she said, the religious MKs will be the first to support a bill proposing legalizing the sale of marijuana in coffee shops.
“Logic dictates that if the rabbis ruled that cannabis is forbidden during Passover – it apparently considered kosher the rest of the year. God created the flora and fauna so that man may enjoy them. And unlike many other things – God did not forbid the use of cannabis,” she said.