Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved a bill to legalize recreational cannabis. This cleared the bill of its first hurdle on the way to becoming law.
Decriminalizing marijuana possession
The new legislation aims to decriminalize marijuana possession of up to fifty grams by adults aged 21 years and up. It also seeks to fully legalize the possession and consumption of up to 15 grams of the substance by adults of the same age.
If the bill proceeds to become law, Israeli citizens aged 21 years and above will legally purchase and sell cannabis for personal use. Authorized shops will equally have the freedom to sell cannabis products. The bill, which also outlined medical cannabis reform, bans the growing of cannabis at home.
Sharren Haskel (Likud MK) and Ram Shefa (Blue and White MK) are co-sponsors of the bill that seeks to transform the cannabis landscape in Israel.
“For the first time in the State of Israel’s history, my legislative move is officially beginning to regulate the cannabis market in Israel. I’m proud to bring good news to over one million cannabis users and tens of thousands of sick people,” Haskel wrote in a Facebook post.
While the bill passed this stage, it wasn’t without opposition. Israel’s Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman and his Jerusalem Affairs counterpart Rafi Peretz voted against the bill. Litzman belongs to the ultra-Orthodox United Judaism Party while Peretz is in the national-religious Jewish Home camp.
The bill will be presented before the Knesset this coming Wednesday to clear the first of three votes it needs before it becomes a law.
Advancing legalization talks
Earlier in June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party Likud and that of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party issued a joint statement seeking to advance legislation “to resolve the issue of decriminalization and legalization.”
The statement, which is seen to refer to recreational cannabis, said the matter would be done “via a responsible model that will be suited to the State of Israel and the Israeli population.”
According to the statement, both sides have decided to advance medical cannabis reforms to facilitate easier access to treatment by patients and for growers to obtain a license.
In recent years, Israel has taken important steps to ensure that medical cannabis is available. However, the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal, with only partial decriminalization that took effect in 2017 through the Public Security Ministry. Medical cannabis users in Israel have also complained of near-inaccessibility to the few dispensaries available.