Israeli Lawmakers Advance Cannabis Legalization Bills

Israeli lawmakers have advanced two cannabis legalization bills to the country’s top legislative body.

Full story after the jump.

Members of Israel’s ruling party coalition have advanced two cannabis legalization bills, guaranteeing their support of the reforms in the Knesset, the Jerusalem Post reports. The bills were submitted by Likud MK Sharren Haskel and Blue and White MK Ram Shefa and were advanced by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.

Haskel, who has supported the reforms in the Knesset for five years, called the move “a big step toward full legalization.”

The bills are expected to pass a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday and then will be combined in committee, the Post says. After making it through the committee, they will be brought back through the legislative process as a government-sponsored bill and will then have to pass three more times each in the plenum and committee to become law.

Community Development Minister Orly Levy-Abecassis, whose ministry is in charge of the Anti-Drug and Alcohol Authority, supports the reforms on the condition that they will be coordinated with her ministry and others further in the legislative process as it becomes a government-sponsored bill, the report says.

The bills would allow adults to possess up to 50 grams and up to two cannabis plants grown under natural light in a private place for personal use. Possessing more than allowed would still be subject to large fines and using cannabis in public would remain illegal. Those who have been convicted of low-level cannabis use could also seek to expunge the charges.

Cannabis use and possession would be permitted to Israelis 21-and-older, with the exception of those working in security positions. Additionally, the measure prohibits driving while using cannabis, sets up a fund to educate people in schools about the dangers of using cannabis and to prevent addictions. All advertising restrictions relating to tobacco in the country would also apply to cannabis products.

The joint government is led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White). The coalition announced earlier this month that they would advance legislation “to resolve the issue of decriminalization and legalization” of cannabis.

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