Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday indicated support for recreational cannabis legalization in the country along with expungement for previous cannabis convictions, the Times of Israel reports.
Netanyahu made the announcements via Twitter, saying his justice minister has already “begun work on the matter” and would work with Green Leaf Party Chairman Oren Leibovich on whether to import the Canadian model for regulating a legal market in Israel.”
“I examined the matter and decided to advance the erasure of criminal records of tens of thousands of Israelis for personal use and cannabis possession, something that causes unnecessary suffering to many and is a burden on the courts.” – Netanyahu on Twitter, via the Times of Israel
Leibovich told the Jerusalem Post that the reforms “should have been done a long time ago” but that he appreciated that the prime minister “paid his attention,” met with him, and “made the right decision.”
“The next required step is to promote regulation of a legal cannabis market, as Canada did in 2018,” Leibovich said to the Post.
Netanyahu’s main political rival, Blue and White Chairman MK Benny Gantz, fired back on Twitter, calling Netanyahu’s promise “spin at the expense of the sick.”
“What you didn’t do during 10 years [as prime minister] you won’t do in another 10 years,” Gantz wrote in a Twitter response to the prime minister. “[For] years, you sold illusions to the sick who need medical cannabis and to our youth in an attempt to gather votes.”
Gantz will face off against Netanyahu in March 2 elections – the country’s third in one year. According to the Times, the prime minister made similar promises before elections last April and September when vowed to liberalize the medical cannabis industry.
Israel has already partially decriminalized recreational cannabis use opting for fines and treatment for initial offenders instead of criminal prosecution. Medical cannabis is also legal throughout the country.