There is a rich history and long relationship between Jews and cannabis. References to this plant appear in the Bible, the Talmud, and numerous other Jewish texts. Numerous rabbis have considered it in their writings. Cannabis has been used by Jews in religious ritual and for medicinal purposes from ancient times until today. More recently, Jews have been at the forefront of scientific research and medical applications of cannabis. Many Jews have also been deeply involved in the counterculture movement as well as the medical marijuana movement, both of which strove for legalization in different ways. Commercial aspects of the modern cannabis industry, from horticulture to distribution to paraphernalia, have also involved numerous Jewish business people.
Obviously, activity surrounding cannabis involves all kinds of people, not only members of the tribe. But enough Jews have played significant roles in these various fields that their connection warrants inquiry. In fact, there are currently so many Jews involved with cannabis, it’s only possible to include a small number of salient figures here. With origins in ancient times, the story of Jews and cannabis continues to evolve. In this exhibit, we explore some of its roots and the contributions of Jews to the many realms of this versatile herb.