Israel’s pro-cannabis Green Leaf Party is planning to run in the country’s upcoming elections, the first time they will be backing candidates since 2015, the Times of Israel reports. The party was founded in 1999 and has run in several elections but has never sent a representative to the Knesset, the report says.
Boaz Wachtel, acting chair of the Green Leaf Party, indicated that there are disagreements within the party over its leadership but that it would still send candidates. The announcement comes a week after lawmakers failed to pass a bill to regulate medical cannabis by broadening the issuance of growers’ licenses, creating quality oversight, and facilitating the import and export of cannabis.
In addition to cannabis law reforms, the Green Leaf Party backs the legalization of prostitution and gambling, according to the Israel Democracy Institute. The party has never garnered more than 1.3% of the vote in elections it has sent candidates, the minimum threshold to send a member to the Knesset is 3.25%.
In 2019, party officials said they declined to run candidates because they believed that it would force other candidates to champion cannabis law reforms to appeal to its 50,000 supporters.
“When we don’t run, 50,000 supporters that are the minimum support base of the party will go out to the ‘political voting market,’” officials said in a 2019 statement to the Times, “and the rest of the parties will need to compete for their votes and support promoting the issue [of legalization], making it easier for us to influence other parties.”
In 2015, members of the Israel Defense Forces, along with diplomatic personnel overseas, patients in hospitals, and prisoners, gave the party enough votes – 3.64% – to send a member to the Knesset, according to the Times, nearly three times more than the final total seen during that year’s general election.
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