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It is held by Rav Moshe zt''l that a Jew may not smoke marijuana, but following the legalization of marijuana in Washington, I am curious if a Jew may run a store that sells marijuana in a jurisdiction that allows it (so dina d'malchuta isn't an issue)?

In other words, may a Jew sell a product he is forbidden to consume, especially given the strength of the words Rav Moshe used to forbid marijuana consumption? Does the risk that another Jew might buy the product pose a problem (stumbling block)? Does it matter whether or not Noahides may consume marijuana? (May they?)

(For the sake of argument, let's ignore the fact that US federal law still prohibits marijuana, but in real life, this would obviously mean there are still some dina d'malchuta issues in the US, though not in other countries like Uruguay)

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It is patently SIMPLE & CLEAR that R' Moshe is referring to a substance similar to crack cocaine, which at the time of His letter marijuana may have been charactirized as by medical professionals and others. Arguably R' Moshe consulted with someone to determine what substance it was and what effects it has, and was arguably given the false "official classification" of the time, even in good faith.

In light of the present correction of the generally accepted false claims of the time (extreme addiction, brain-cell killing, erosion of mental etc faculties), given that they have been shown to be false, this letter would be cast in doubt as unreliable given the misinformation, even provided in good faith, that it is based on.

Furthermore, R' Moshe refers to Chashish & Marijuana.. Had he been informed that the substance in question, the one and same, is Cannabis [Kanbois in Torah Shebaal Peh, or KNEI BOSEM in Torah Shebichsav {for Shemen Hamishchoh etc}] he arguably would have known IMMEDIATELY that it is certainly not a harbinger of such harm or destruction, and CERTAINLY would NEVER have called it "tumhoh"!!!

In short this is SIMPLY & CLEARLY a case of mistaken identity, exacerbated by, albeit delivered to Him in good faith, misinformation, and clearly associated with the physical withering of crack addicts easily publicly observed at the time.

In closing [citation needed]: Reb Moshe Himself wrote in a Responsum that His rulings are subject to new information and correction, as a rule, in any case where such information or correction is needed and correct. In short: His Responsa are Chochmoh not Ruach haKodesh.

In light of all the above the cited letter of Reb Moshe would be classified as misinformed, erroneous and inapplicable by His own Allowance.

On that note, while one may not be permitted to directly inhale smoke for health reasons, one may burn it in the form of incense, cook with it as a spice, and certainly sell it to adults as a spice, food or medicine.

Lastly, while there remains a federal law, and in some places also state law, against its use, raising the question of dina dimalchusa.. dd"m applies to laws which are not regularly trampled by citizens, e.g. an expired meter even for several minutes and driving a couple mph over the speed limit in safe conditions both would definitely not be an issur of dd"m (whether one gets penalized or not, regardless of arguments that the first may be theft and the second endangerment) because these legal limitations are regularly "trampled" by the masses dd"m wouldn't apply. So too with the consumption of Cannabis which is argualy one of the, if not the, most trampled federal law(s), Dina Dimalchusa Dina would not apply.

As with any substance (coffee/sugar included) if an individual finds it distracts him from Torah Study or Tephiloh he should limit or cease his use thereof, whether cannabis or otherwise, but this would not be the rule, but rather the exception.

Tizku leMitzvos

  • welcome the Mi yodeya. Conisder adding sources, particularly for the last two paragraphs which most directly address the question. – mevaqesh Mar 7 '17 at 7:22
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The question can be expanded to the Jew selling animal products, of which he is forbidden to consume. This is definately permitted providing the recepient is not known to him to be Jewish or the kind of goods is not intended to be used in a forbidden way. Thus a pig-skin leather shoe may be traded between Jews. Similarly dogs can be kept by Jews (for reasons of security or pleasure), provided the dogs are not dead.

So by extension the Jew can sell marjuahna to non Jews, and even to Jews, if and when the drug has been prescribed for medical purposes.

  • 1
    It is not definitely permitted. See Yoreh Deah 115 (or maybe it's 117?) – Double AA Jul 7 '14 at 17:31
  • My understanding of the laws of selling medical mariuana is that states severely restrict who can sell it and who can obtain it legally. These are circumstances beyond the parameters of the original question, here, which asked generally if a Jew can run a STORE. In cases of med. marijuana, sale is restricted to doctors or labs / clinics. – DanF Jul 7 '14 at 17:35
  • I would also assume that for the purpouse of refu'ah - health reasons, Rav Moshe's restrictions would probably not apply, esp. for life-threatening illnesses. – DanF Jul 7 '14 at 17:37
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    @DoubleAA is totally correct – user5540 Jul 7 '14 at 18:58
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According to Rav Moshe the issues with Marijuana are as follows; After reading his Teshuva, along with the last line " that is clear and evident that it is one of the strongest prohibitions" It seems clear that it is not permissible to sell, if not for any other reason then to not put a stumbeling block.

אגרות משה יורה דעת חלק ג' סימן ל"ה.

  1. The law of the land/dina Demalchuta Dina
  2. Honoring ones parents (who surely do not wish their children take drugs)
  3. Create taave/desire (munchies/and the desire for the escape/pleasure of the drug itself) and therefore is in the category of Ben Sore Omorer
  4. Hurt their health
  5. make it harder for them to learn torah due to a weakening of analaytical capabilities.
  6. It is an issue of transgressing Kedoshim Tihiyu

הנה בדבר אשר התחילו איזה בחורים מהישיבה לעשן חשיש (מריחואנה), פשוט שהוא דבר אסור מכמה עיקרי דינים שבתורה חדא שהוא מקלקל ומכלה את הגוף, ואף אם נמצאו אנשים בריאים שלא מזיק להם כל כך אבל מקלקל הוא את הדעת ואינם יכולים להבין דבר לאשורו שזה עוד יותר חמור שלבד שמונע עצמו מלמוד התורה כראוי הוא מניעה גם מתפלה וממצות התורה שעשיה בלא דעת הראוי הוא כלא קיימם. ועוד שהוא גורם תאוה גדולה אשר הוא יותר מתאות אכילה וכדומה הצריכים להאדם לחיותו ויש שלא יוכלו לצמצם ולהעביר תאותם, והוא איסור החמור שנאמר בבן סורר ומורה על תאוה היותר גדולה שיש לו לאכילה אף שהוא לאכילת כשרות, וכ"ש שאסור להביא עצמו לתאוה גדולה עוד יותר ולדבר שליכא שום צורך להאדם בזה שהוא אסור, ואף שלמלקות נימא שאין עונשין מן הדין מ"מ לאיסורא ודאי עובר על לאו זה ואיכא גם הטעם דאיכא בבן סורר ומורה שסופו שילסטם את הבריות כדאיתא בסנהדרין בפ' בן סורר (ס"ח ע"ב). ועוד שהאב והאם של אלו שמעשנין זה מצטערים מאד אשר עוברין על מצות כבוד אב ואם. ועוד איכא איסור העשה דקדושים תהיו כפירוש הרמב"ן בחומש. וגם הם גורמים לאיסורים הרבה אחרים לבד זה, סוף דבר הוא פשוט וברור שהוא מאיסורים חמורים וצריך להשתדל בכל היכולת להעביר טומאה זו מכל בני ישראל.

  • 2
    Almost everything you wrote is irrelevant, and the part that answers the question is simply your assertion based on "it seems clear". – Double AA Jul 7 '14 at 17:29
  • I don't know about the "it seems clear" part. Regardless, Isn't it automatically prohibitted to sell something you are not allowed to use yourself, to another Jew? – DanF Jul 7 '14 at 18:18
  • This doesn't really answer the question – user5540 Jul 7 '14 at 18:59
  • @DanF Why would that be? What if I took a Shevua not to eat Dunkin Donuts. Does that mean I can't sell them to you? – Double AA Jul 7 '14 at 19:00
  • @DoubleAA - You can't sell me Dunkin Donuts even without having taken a shvu'ah. I'm trying to stick to my diet ;-) – DanF Jul 8 '14 at 1:55

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