Hemp has increasingly been spotted on the list of kitniyot, or legumes, that Ashkenazi Jews abstain from eating during Pessah, according to several influential rabbinical Web sites, including kashrut.com. But not everyone agrees that hemp qualifies for the ban, and the debate has led many to question the definition of kitniyot
The ban on kitniyot during Pessah began because rabbis were concerned that certain legumes would come into contact with the grains forbidden during the holiday. Farmers often grew wheat and rice in adjacent fields, and families frequently stored all of their grains and legumes in the same containers. The kitniyot tradition only applies to Jews of Ashkenazi descent, since Sephardic Jewry never adopted the practice.
Of the dozen rabbis whom The Jerusalem Post questioned on this issue, none offered a conclusive statement about how hemp should be classified for Pessah. As Rabbi Daniel Kohn of Bat Ayin explained, the issue ultimately boils down to an individual decision by each rabbi about whether hemp seeds themselves could be considered edible. If a rabbi decides that the seeds are edible, then hemp – and, by extension, marijuana – would not be considered permissible for Pessah.
Well, at least here's some news that might make this year's Seder more palatable, but this also raises the stakes of eating way more matzah than is good for one sitting.