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Marley tune blesses weed at Pot Seder

  • Rivlin Greek
The third-night seder plate at the inaugural Dagga Seder in Portland, Oregon included a marijuana leaf.
by ANT KATZ with JTA | Apr 15, 2015

At Cannabis Seder, Bob Marley tunes and a blessing over the weed


In an airy warehouse in the US state of Oregon where a third-night seder was organised by Roy Kaufmann and his wife - seasoned activists who direct the advocacy group Le’Or, which since its founding last year has worked to put marijuana legalisation on the Jewish communal agenda.

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RIGHT: Cannabis consultant Brie Bergman, right, smokes a joint with Adam Eidinger, who led Washington DC’s marijuana legalisation campaign

The Cannabis Seder for a New Drug Peace - billed as a place for “an honest Jewish conversation about topics we were taught were strictly taboo – about drugs, race, and justice,” marked Le’Or’s inaugural event.

Le’Or’s major sponsor, Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap Company president David Bronner was there, as was hemp activist Adam Eidinger, who had flown in from Washington DC, where he led last year’s successful campaign to legalize recreational marijuana use in the nation’s capital.

 Disclaimer

The seder included a legal disclaimer: The cannabis products at this Seder are available to OMMP cardholders only,” the sign at the check-in table read, referring to the state of Oregon’s medical marijuana program. “All others consume at your own risk.”

The fine print explained the facts: While Oregon voters legalised recreational marijuana use last November, the measure wouldn’t take effect until 1 July. Portland’s district attorney has vowed not to prosecute in the meantime, but the message was clear: If one wanted to get stoned on pot chocolates, the hosts of the country’s first official Cannabis Seder bore no responsibility.

The Le’Or event brought together about 50 people.

Seated around reclaimed hardwood tables, seder-goers parsed the failings of America’s long-running drug war — which has had devastating consequences for people of colour — and passed joints to celebrate Oregon’s newfound cannabis freedoms.

Blessing of the weed

When it came time to begin the seder and say the blessing over the wine, a new tradition was added to the service: reciting the blessing over the weed.

In the absence of a prayer for cannabis, Kaufmann – author of the Drug War-themed Haggadah that guided the seder – borrowed from the Havdalah ritual. The prayer “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, the king of the world, who creates myriad fragrant spices” -  traditionally recited over the fragrant spices at the close of every Shabbat - became the de facto ganja blessing.

Later, a vocal soloist led the group in singing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” (“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our minds.”), and the guests chanted the Shema prayer to the beat of an African djembe drum.

Among the seder guests were Marsha Rosenbaum and Amanda Reiman of the Drug Policy Alliance – a driving force behind marijuana legalisation efforts nationwide – and Diane Goldstein, a 53-year-old retired police lieutenant from Rendondo Beach, California, who traded in her badge to speak out against the Drug War.

 

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LEFT: Not all seder plates are equal

At the Le’Or seder, while some Passover rituals were left intact – the washing of the hands, for one – most were subject to reinvention.

Even the seder plate looked different from all other seder plates: As a symbol of freedom and protest, a marijuana leaf had been substituted for the usual piece of lettuce.

By the time the seder meal (wild-caught salmon) was finished, glass Mason jars previously stuffed with Oregon’s Finest cannabis flowers sat empty, and the spread of dark chocolate truffles “made with full extract cannabis oil,” according to the Leif Medicinals label, had been plundered.

What remained was a sordid array of hemp wick, unopened jars of cannabis butter and a room full of activists who committed to ending America’s Drug War in the name of the Jewish ideal of tikkun olam, or building a better world.

2 Comments

  1. 2 Denis Solomons 13 May
    Much has been written in the media recently about cannabis's use as a medicinal drug .
    There are reports that the drug should be used as a pain reliever especially in advanced cancer .
    But the reality is that it is potentially addictive and often leads to addiction to more addictive drugs ; e.g. the opiods.
    Bob Marley and the Wailers were big advocates of Marijuana use . Marley himself died of cancer ( I think of the larynx ) . Did marijuana use alleviate his pain symptoms ! ?
    the "weed" is definitely the elixir or panacea that it has been made out to be .
    What would Bob Marley's son Ziggie Marley say.
  2. 1 Denis Solomons 13 May
    Sorry that should read is " definitely NOT the elixir or panacea that it was made out to be ! "
    My humble appologies !

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