What do a rabbi and pastor and marijuana have in common? They both want to grow marijuana, obviously.
While we’ve all heard any number of pastor and rabbi jokes over the years, this one is actually real. Just over the border from the District of Columbia, Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn and Pastor Gareth E. Murray have applied for one of the up to 15 licenses in the state of Maryland to legally grow marijuana for medical purposes.
Kahn is pushing for the license after having already been an important figure in D.C.’s medical marijuana community helping out at the Takoma Wellness Center, but is constantly turning away Maryland residents who live just minutes away across the border who aren’t allowed to utilize the program in D.C.
“It’s too sad not being able to help,” Kahn told The Washington Post.
Rosebud Organics, a prospective Maryland growery Kahn has invested in, would be where the medical marijuana would come from and he also has plans to open a second shop in Takoma Park itself for Maryland residents to use.
Kahn has since left his role as an active rabbi to focus on the medical marijuana dispensary in D.C. and initially became interested in the medical marijuana community after seeing his congregants use it to manage symptoms brought forth by AIDS. Reform Judaism was one of the first religious denominations to embrace the use of medical marijuana in 2003.
“In the first chapter of the Bible, God creates plants and tells us that they are very good, and they are for our use,” Kahn told The Washington Post. “God has created these things for our benefit.”
His partner, Murray, is an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Silver Spring and was a Democratic state lawmaker between 2003 and 2007. While he is new to the world of medical marijuana, he does believe there is true medicinal value of marijuana. He joined a farmer from Southern Maryland to acquire a cultivation license on the condition that it would solely be used for medicinal purposes.
“People look at medical marijuana a lot of times as the guy standing in the corner smoking a joint or getting high,” Murray told The Washington Post. “We need to educate people about the facts. And it’s not about getting high; it’s medical.”
The company, PhytaGenesis, split with the members on the team who wanted to expand to recreational sales if Maryland ever legalizes recreational use to focus on the medicinal value of the marijuana grown. Murray has set up several meetings with state lawmakers since he is the director of government and community affairs with PhytaGenesis and has stayed active in politics.
“You got all these big folks coming in from out of state,” Murray told The Washington Post. “I want to help the small-business owners.”
Rabbi Kahn and Pastor Murray will hope they can help serve the Maryland medical marijuana community soon and ensure they don’t have to be turned away anymore despite living mere minutes away from the D.C. dispensaries.