Gatineau-based Hydropothecary’s processed medical marijuana products have been granted kosher certification by the Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut (OVH), and the need for those products is immediate.
“This is something that will help people who need this for their health in Ottawa,” said Rabbi Levy Teitlebaum, the OVH director. “I’ve actually received phone calls from people who wanted to use such products and now they can. The products are available in Ottawa now,” he said, laughing that they were out in time for the “High Holidays.”
It is the only kosher certification currently granted to cannabis products in Canada, and is only for medicinal marijuana, said Rabbi Teitlebaum. In the United States, the Orthodox Union has already given certification to medical marijuana, he said.
The Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut kosher certification includes Decarb, the ready-to-consume activated marijuana powder product line, Elixir cannabis peppermint oil and the H2 line of milled products.
“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,” said Sebastien St-Louis, Hydropothecary CEO and co-founder. “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.”
The company has been in operation for two years.
“Nine months ago we added a focus on innovation, adding new products to market,” said St-Louis. “The kosher certification added the second layer to our already robust quality systems and standard operating procedures. Any time we can increase quality for our patients and a new product, that’s something we strive for. Our goal is come out with a new product every quarter, and kosher was our product for October, Q1. The process went very well. It brought many stakeholders to the table to meet the new and stringent requirements of kosher certification.”
The next new product will be kosher as well, he said.
“Kosher certification is something that is relied upon by many people,” said Rabbi Teitlebaum, “including vegans, vegetarians and people who are careful about what they consume, as a symbol of trust. What this certification shows is the value placed on proper etiquette for kosher and for being able to care for people. That is a beautiful harmony between the council and Hydropothecary.”
Obtaining kosher certification requires several components, including an audit of cleaning protocols, kosher compliance review and on-site inspections throughout the year.
“This is a rigorous, independent, third-party certification process that goes from A to Z,” said 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.”
The Hydropothecary Corporation is an authorized licensed producer and distributor of medical cannabis licensed by Health Canada under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (Canada).
“Medical products required for health and well-being are eligible for kosher certification,” said Rabbi Teitlebaum. With legalization of marijuana for recreational use, which comes into effect in July, 2018, however, the ethics of using a product simply for enjoyment will have to be considered.
Those taking medical marijuana will know a product is kosher certified because the symbol will appear on the label of every Hydropothecary product that is kosher certified. Clients can also obtain a letter of kosher certification from Hydropothecary.
“We’ve had other companies asking about similar products, but we particularly respect the dignity that this company shows their clients,” said Rabbi Teitlebaum. “It’s not like a little baggie, it’s packaged, it explains what it is, and it gives them the dignity that they deserve for their health. They shouldn’t feel bad that they have to take such a thing. It’s like any other way of healing themselves and relieving their pain.”