Israel Lawmakers Unanimously Pass Bill to Legalize Marijuana Through First Reading

Legislation to legalize the use of marijuana was passed  through its first reading in the Israel Knesset (Legislature) today.

The bill, which was passed through its first reading in a unanimous vote, has been spearheaded by Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who says Israel wants to “reduce the harms of drug usage regularly but avoid as much as possible the criminal stigmatization of average citizens.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said that the passing of the bill marks “another important step on the road to our victory.” She notes that the law is “far from perfect, but it is a foot in the door on the way to a policy of full legalization.”

Read moreIsrael Lawmakers Unanimously Pass Bill to Legalize Marijuana Through First Reading

Israel Committee Gives Approval to Marijuana Decriminalization Measure

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation has approved a proposal that would decriminalize the possession and use of marijuana.

The measure, put forth by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), would make the possession of marijuana for personal use a maximum fine of 1,000 shekels ($282) for someone’s first offense. For a second offense, the fine would be doubled. For a third offense, individuals would be put on a mandatory probation period. A fourth offense would remain punishable by potential jail time. Consuming marijuana in public – as well as distributing the plant – would remain a crime for someone’s first offense.

“When we started our struggle, people disrespected us, but the Ministerial Committee’s decision today is proof that a real, persistent struggle succeeds in the end”, says MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), who heads the Knesset Committee on Drug and Alcohol abuse and supports legalization. “This bill is far from being perfect, but it is a foot in the door on the way to full legalization.”

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Israel: Over 90% of Medical Cannabis Patients Find Relief in the Medicine

A cannabis plant next to Israel's flag.
A cannabis plant next to the Israel flag.

Over 90% of patients enrolled in Israel’s medical cannabis program report significant improvements in symptoms such as pain and nausea, according to a new survey presented at the Sixth International Jerusalem Conference on Health Policy.

For the survey, researchers at Ben-Gurion University surveyed demographic characteristics of patients enrolled in the nation’s medical cannabis program over a period of two years. Only six percent stated that medical cannabis was ineffective in treating their condition. Patients were most likely to report that cannabis provided relief from pain, nausea, anxiety and loss of appetite.

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Israeli Anti-Drug Authority Being Disbanded

iadaThe Israeli Anti-Drug and Alcohol Authority, the Israel equivalent to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is being shut down in what the government is calling a cost-cutting move.

The agency has gained a large amount of criticism over its draconian stance on cannabis. The group recently ran an ad campaign warning that cannabis is “not that innocent”, despite the plant being legal in Israel for medical purposes.

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Study: Legalizing Cannabis in Israel Would Result in Nearly Half a Billion Dollars Annually

According to a new report by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, the illegal cannabis market in in Israel is worth nearly a billion dollarsLabor Welfare and Health Committee, and bringing it above ground into a legal market would net the nation over $450 million in both reduced enforcement costs, as well as increased tax revenue.

Over 275,000 people consume cannabis in the past year, researchers found. The study also found that 75% in the country believe cannabis has legitimate medical value. 

Read moreStudy: Legalizing Cannabis in Israel Would Result in Nearly Half a Billion Dollars Annually