Roughly 1.5 percent of the Canadian population is Jewish.
Up until last month, however, there was no way for them to access medical marijuana that complied with their belief system. In other words, there was no kosher cannabis.
Enter the Hydropothecary Corporation, Quebec’s only licensed cannabis producer and Canada’s first licensed producer to offer kosher-certified cannabis. The Gatineau-based company announced on Sept. 20 that it had been granted kosher certification by the Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut, a not-for-profit group that confirms products conform with Jewish dietary law, which prohibits foods like pork.
The certification – which covers the company’s Decarb, Elixir and H2 products – requires several steps, including an audit of cleaning protocols, a kosher compliance review and on-site inspections throughout the year.
Hydropothecary founder and CEO Sebastien St-Louis said the decision was made in the interest of “giving a breadth of products to our consumers.”
“What’s important for us is to [create] interesting products for segments of the population that are perhaps underserved,” St-Louis told Civilized.
“There’s about 1.5 percent of the Canadian population that’s Jewish and those consumers, if they’re choosing medical cannabis, certainly want a kosher product that didn’t exist before.”
Beyond the customer satisfaction side of things, St-Louis said the move toward offering kosher cannabis helps to position Hydropothecary as a leader in quality control in the industry. This is because the certification process entails “rigorous testing and independent third-party oversight”, he said.
“The rabbi is actually personally inspecting our facilities; overlaying their own procedures on top of our own very rigorous standard operating procedures,” said St-Louis.
The rabbi in question is Vaad HaKashrut director Rabbi Levy Teitlebaum, who expressed his support and appreciation for the move at the time of the announcement.
"Kosher certification is something that is relied upon by many people, 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," Rabbi Teitlebaum said in a press release.
"This is a rigorous, independent, third-party certification process that goes from A to Z. Hydropothecary's products not only qualify, but certification is gladly given because it's important for what's needed in this new sector.”
The company will be aided in its new kosher-friendly mission with the addition of “five football-fields [worth] of marijuana growing and manufacturing space and laboratories” – an announcement made today.
“We are still Quebec’s only licensed producer and with adult use coming on, we intend to take 10 percent of the Canadian market as a whole, so this is just another step on the production side to get there.”