Israel's Prime Minister To Explore Marijuana Legalization

Benjamin Netanyahu is appointing a committee that will look into following Canada's example.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday said his government is exploring the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, following a model similar to Canada's. Justice Minister Amir Ohana "has begun work on the issue, and he will head a committee including professionals and Oren Leibovich, chairman of the [pro-legalization] Green Leaf Party, that will investigate importing the Canadian model for regulation of a legal market in Israel," Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew.

That announcement met with considerable skepticism on Twitter. Some users, The Jerusalem Post notes, "joked that cannabis is needed to have faith in what he says." Netanyahu, who is struggling to remain in power after two indecisive parliamentary elections in April and September, faces voters once again next month, just two weeks before his trial on corruption charges is scheduled to begin.

Still, it is notable that Netanyahu seems to think legalization would be a popular move, and his tweet also touted his plan to expunge "tens of thousands" of criminal records related to marijuana possession. He said prosecution of cannabis consumers "is a burden on the courts" and causes "unnecessary suffering to many."

Netanyahu recently took up the cause of Naama Issachar, a young Israeli woman who received a seven-year prison sentence after she was caught with nine grams of cannabis while changing flights in Moscow. Issachar was released from prison last month, thanks to diplomatic intervention by Netanyahu's government.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Leibovich, the Green Leaf Party leader, welcomed the prime minister's interest in legalization. "I believe that this week we made a significant step on the path to a legal cannabis market in Israel," he said. "I think this is something that should have been done a long time ago, and I appreciate the prime minister who paid attention, met with me, heard me, and made the right decision." Leibovich said he made overtures to every party, but Netanyahu was the only politician who showed any interest.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Israel since the early 1990s. Under a partial decriminalization policy that took effect last year, recreational consumers caught with up to 15 grams (half an ounce) of marijuana are subject to a fine of 1,000 shekels (currently $292). The fine is doubled for a second offense, while third-time offenders receive probation, possibly coupled with treatment or additional sanctions, such as suspension of their driver's licenses. Criminal charges are possible, at the discretion of police, only after a fourth offense.

If Israel actually legalized the recreational market, it probably would be the fourth country to do so at the national level. Uruguay legalized marijuana in 2013, followed by Canada in 2018. Mexican legislators are working on a bill to establish a legal market, which they are supposed to pass by the end of April to comply with a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that deemed marijuana prohibition unconstitutional. In the United States, marijuana is still completely prohibited under federal law, although 11 states have legalized recreational use, including 10 that allow commercial production and distribution.

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  1. It’s good to see Netanyahu focusing on this. Marijuana legalization is his nation’s most pressing national security issue.

    1. See sarc? That is how you do childish sarcasm lololol

    2. Hey! Get the Palestinians to share a few bong hits and … PEACE PROCESS!

      1. “Bong hits for Jesus” is WAAAY old now…

        “Bong hits for All the Palestinians and Israelis and at-each-others-throats-bastards in the Unholy Lands” is an idea whose time has come! Maybe even a good name for a garage band, if we can shorten it down and make it more snazzy…

      2. The Arabs invented the bong . And hashish.

        If your wish were true there would have been peace long ago. It is a nice thought.

    3. Unicorn

      It is actually. Israel as you know is a startup nation. They launch companies in tech industries including agriculture, pharmaceutical, computing, communications and so on.

      There are Israelis in this industry on multiple levels who can begin to branch out to the international markets. The government is trying to take down barriers. Good.

      If only our own made that effort.

      1. Or at least acted with some common sense.

        On the assumption that the FDA isn’t going away, it would be nice if any drug given approval in a 1st world country was automatically approved here unless the government could show good cause.

        1. But that wouldn’t’ve prevented thalidomide, and then where would we be? Trying to type with our flipper hands?!?!

  2. Netanyahu recently took up the cause of Naama Issachar, a young Israeli woman who received a seven-year prison sentence after she was caught with nine grams of cannabis while changing flights in Moscow.

    Pro tip: Even if Israel successfully legalizes Marijuana, don’t take 9 grams of pot with you on a plane when you pass through Moscow.

    1. She is home now. What a nightmare.

  3. How long will it be until the government of some major country actually makes cannabis completely legal with unlimited possession, growth, and sales with no taxes?

    1. Is there a single product sold anywhere in the world that fits that definition of legality?

      1. The “lung flute”, in ***ALL*** nations, EXCEPT for the USA!

        In microcosm, for this one issue, the USA is the LEAST free nation on the planet! PLEASE bring our soldiers home… Stop providing “freedom” for foreigners… And bring us freedom from the petty tyrants at the FDA, at HOME!

        To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

        1. You made a website? You are one nutty dude.

          1. Yeah man! “The Church of Scienfoology” is where it’s at!

            Root page of it has listed sub-pages at the bottom of it, bottom of root page…

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  4. Umm. Walk through the streets in Tzvat (safed) where the kabbala types hang in the evening. It is a very holy place. It really is in truth. There are very sincere wonderful people there.

    Israel has also been at the front in medical use of the plant for years. There is more to be learned there and the government should not stand in the way.

    Nor should ours. Yet it does.

    1. Yes, Israel is the leader in cannabis research.

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  6. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday said his government is exploring the legalization of marijuana for recreational use,”

    An admission it is legalization for a state defined Group only !
    Imagine how many rights could be legalized on that basis – even in Russia
    Reason would promote them and write articles on legalization in Russia

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