Israeli Lawmakers Signal Support for Cannabis Legalization

Israeli lawmakers say they will advance legislation for broad cannabis legalization; the proposal would allow for cannabis use, purchases, and possession by people aged 21+.

Full story after the jump.

Israel’s two parties making up the new government said in a joint statement on Tuesday that they would advance legislation “to resolve the issue of decriminalization and legalization” of cannabis, setting the stage for broad legalization in the country, the Times of Israel reports. The statement comes one week after the police minister supported the reforms.

In the statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party, lawmakers said legalization would be conducted “via a responsible model that will be suited to the State of Israel and the Israeli population,” but did not elaborate.

Blue and White MK Ram Shefa and Likud MK Sharren Haskel will advance the legislation, which would allow cannabis purchases, possession, and use for people 21-and-older. Cannabis products would be sold at designated shops and there would be restrictions on advertising the products. Workers in security jobs would not be allowed to use cannabis, the report says. Some of the funds derived from sales would be used for education to explain the potential dangers of cannabis.

Responding to a High Court of Justice petition, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana said last week that it is his duty to “minimize harm as much as possible to [otherwise] law-abiding citizens who have offenses linked to the drug.” In February, Ohana – appearing in a video with legalization activist Oren Leibowitz – rallied against Israel’s “heavy-handed” enforcement of cannabis laws.

“They took law-abiding citizens and turned them to criminals. Not because they harmed another person, God forbid, but rather because they allegedly harmed themselves.” – Ohana in a February 25, 2020 video statement

The video was posted two days after Netanyahu expressed support on Twitter for the expungement of criminal records related to cannabis possession and use, saying having such records “causes unnecessary suffering to many and is a burden on the courts.”

The government has not offered a timeline for the reforms but some report that it will likely take about four months for the legislation’s approval.

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