By Gabe Stutman – J. – The Jewish News of Northern California
Colloquially, both Jews and non-Jews often use the word “kosher” to mean acceptable, suitable or even, according to Urban Dictionary, “cool or chill.”
Most assume that’s what Darron Silva meant in naming his cannabis company Cali Kosher, which sells marijuana flower, vape cartridges and concentrated extracts to hundreds of retailers across California.
“A lot of people just thought, ‘Hey, everything’s kosher — Cali Kosher,” Silva said, referring to his two-year-old cannabis brand. “Then you see the CCK logo on there. And they realize it’s certified.”
CCK stands for Central California Kosher, a Fresno-based kashrut supervision organization run by Rabbi Levy Zirkind. Though Zirkind’s certification comes with a disclaimer: by Jewish law marijuana is considered a medicine only. “Therefore, those who are not using [pot] with any medical intention — we have an issue,” he told J.
Visitors to the Cali Kosher website are greeted with a snowy, zoomed-in image of a Christmas tree-shaped marijuana nugget behind the words “certified kosher cannabis grown in the heart of California.” Scroll down to read its three main quality standards, emblazoned with a navy blue Star of David.
“Our farm is regularly inspected and certified by a Rabbi,” Cali Kosher advertises. “We comply with a strict policy of kosher laws that include some of the highest standards of purity and quality.”
Silva, a 36-year-old from Stanislaus County who also runs a landscaping company, said he got the idea for a kosher-certified cannabis business from his brother, who helps run a cannabis distribution company with a Jewish man named Mitch Davis. That company, Mission Brands, decided to seek kosher certification, so Silva did, too.
But Silva, who is not Jewish, took it a step further, connecting his brand overtly with the thousands-year-old body of Jewish law that today weighs in on everything from popcorn to bottled water.
At times, the company appears confused about the particulars of kashrut. One Cali Kosher webpage names “alcohol” and “caffeine,” both kosher, as two examples of “non-kosher substances and additives” banned from the premises during manufacturing and processing, in accordance with “standards set forth by the Jewish faith.” (No, a kashrut supervisor is not likely to object to a farmer drinking a cup of coffee).
During a recent interview with J., Silva said he would correct the error.
Business, though, appears to be booming. Since its founding in 2018, Cali Kosher products are already being sold at some 300 retail stores in the state, Silva said, many of them concentrated in the Bay Area. And on Oct. 9, the brand opened its first brick-and-mortar retail shop in Patterson, a small city about 15 miles from Modesto with a population of 22,000 that is primarily known for its annual Apricot Fiesta.
Jews and non-Jews “gravitate toward” the product, Silva said — “they just know it went the extra mile.”
While Cali Kosher may be “one of the only” kosher cannabis farms in the United States, according to the company, kosher certification in the marijuana industry is not exactly new. In the past, it has been granted mainly to companies selling marijuana geared toward medicinal use.
Then why not give a hechsher specifically to a medical marijuana company???
Right i agree . Drugs are hurting already too many young people and i think putting a hechsher on it is a big responsability. For those that are really compliant to the halacha and would need it as a medecine, they would have asked their own rav.
This doesnt make sense to me unless for one word $$$
This is very important for the yiddishe velt to get involved in the cannabis industry more and this is a way to do it
I’ve been a consumer of caniboid products for 6 years now, and I can tell you that we’ve been missing some good Kosher marijuana. I look forward to this breakthrough extending to other products such as psilocybin (there may be some concerns of Teruma and Ma’asar that a trusted hechsher would resolve), MDMA (it is in pill form and I am not seeing it on the kosher medicine list from the CRC), and acid
Cannabis doesn’t need a hechsher unless it’s in edible form. Aside from that it’s a plant & the various lab materials used for concentrates don’t contain any food (bi)/products.
Agree, it is a plant! You don’t need a hechsher for potatoes or tomatoes.
Leave the plant alone!!