Cannabis consumers in Israel are keeping an eye on the latest development, as the long awaited cannabis legalization bill keeps moving forwards and it’s just a few steps away from being approved. The new law will allow cannabis consumers to hold up to 50 grams of cannabis and up to 15 cannabis seeds. The law is expected to be approved before the end of the current year.
The Israeli government approved legislation that will allow cannabis consumers to hold up to 50 grams of cannabis for self-use. It will also allow the legal possession and purchase in regulated stores of up to 15 grams of cannabis for self-use.
This is an unprecedented approval given by the Israeli government, for the first time in history, to regulating a legal cannabis market in Israel. The two major parties’ Likud and ‘Blue Blue’ presented legalization as an explicit election promise, and, in the meantime, they stand for it.
Is cannabis use now allowed? Not yet. The two bills that were approved today, June 21st, will be consolidated into one proposal that will be put forward to vote, probably already this Wednesday or the next one. They will then go through all the legislative stages, which may take time.
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There’s still a long way ahead for the approval of the cannabis law
The proposal is set to continue to be debated at one of the Knesset committees or a government committee attended by police, law, welfare, transportation, public representatives and others, for a careful drafting of the sections, for up to three months, for the first reading.
After drafting, it moves to the Knesset plenary first reading, and then to further discussions, amendments, revisions, and a second and third reading vote for final approval. If a second and third reading is also approved, the proposal is added to the records and comes into effect.
According to some estimates, the abolition procedure may be completed before the end of 2020. At the same time, discussions on the legalization model formulation will continue, probably for up to a year, some say, until final approval.
The bill that aims to reshape the cannabis industry in Israel
The first bill, submitted by MK Sharan Mishpat (Likud), that allows possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis would be considered a self-use and a non-criminal offense. The implication is that the penalty for this offense will be a maximum fine at most and not up to 3 years in prison as it is set today.
The second bill, legalized by MK Ram Shefa, allows the lawful possession of cannabis and not just “non-criminal” will be possible, up to 15 grams for self-use. The purchase will be as stated in designated stores and the goods will be manufactured at authorized facilities.
Since both proposals have been approved together, the model sections are generally:
- Up to 15 grams of cannabis will be allowed for private consumption, up to the age of 21, except for security or other persons appointed by the Minister of Health.
- Dedicated cannabis stores (“dispensaries”) will be allowed to sell cannabis, but smoking in stores and food or drink sales in stores will be forbidden.
- The incrimination will be abolished for holding up to 50 grams of cannabis and up to 15 cannabis seeds.
- Cannabis containing up to 0.3% THC is considered industrial hemp.
- The CBD (Cannabidiol) component will be exempt from the drug ordinance and will be considered a food supplement.
- Growing cannabis at home for private use would be prohibited.
- Driving under the influence of cannabis will be prohibited.
- The restrictions in the law prohibiting advertising and restricting the marketing of tobacco products could also apply to cannabis.
- An advocacy fund will be set up to operate within the educational and civic arena to present the dangers and prevent addictions.
- Both bills leave the criminal punishment for growing cannabis at home, but there are court rulings from recent years, and even police instructions, which have determined that a flower or two of cannabis, with no auxiliary equipment on the balcony, can be considered self-use.
Bureaucracy will not make easy the approval of the legislation
Despite the penalties law passed by former MK Gilad Arden (the “Non-Discrimination Guarantee” law) and approved last year, over 1,000 Israelis are still being discriminated against each month on average for self-consumption of cannabis.
Of the 14 ministers in a legislative committee that represents the government’s position, only Ministers Yaakov Litzman and Rafi Peretz were opposed. The first publication of expected ministers’ support came up in the Cannabis magazine following a review that said 70% of ministers had support.
For the approval of the bill are currently only two major parties, the Likud and the Blue and White.
On the other hand, the police have already announced that it intends to oppose the bill so that the discussions in the committee dealing with the drafting of the new law model clauses will be heated. In addition, the Conservative right-wing parties (the “right”), the ultra-Orthodox (“Torah Judaism” and “Shas”), and the Arabs (the “joint”) are also opposed.
In the coming weeks, many voices are expected to be heard in the media against the legalization of cannabis, most notably in the Israeli newspaper and led by publisher Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who invest tens of millions of dollars in their long fight against legalization and medical cannabis.
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