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Israel set to legalize recreational cannabis

Israel is likely to legalize recreational cannabis use within the next 12 months. This would make it the third country in the world to completely legalize weed, following in the footsteps of Uruguay and Canada.

The Times of Israel quoted Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn on 13 November 2020 as saying “It’s time to make progress and legalize cannabis in Israel. This is a significant, holistic and responsible reform, which shows the State of Israel isn’t ignoring reality and is going in the footsteps of developed countries.”

Israel to follow Canadian model

Nissenkorn said the outline of the draft laws would be ready by the end of November. Should the Knesset approve the bill it will come into law nine months later.

Nissekorn wants to create a Canadian-style regulated market for “adult-use marijuana products”

According to the new law being promoted, people age 21 and up will be allowed to purchase cannabis at specialized stores. They will be required to show identification.

The drug will not be allowed to be taken into or out of the country. The stores will be allowed to make deliveries but will be barred from selling cannabis edibles that resemble candy.

The state will “ensure the prices are reasonable” to avoid encouraging customers to go to the black market, according to the interministerial team’s recommendations.

Permits for home-use

However, the law will likely include a blanket ban on smoking cannabis in public spaces. It will not allow home growing of the plant without a license, though the team recommended that the matter be weighed at a later stage.

Israel has taken steps in recent years to make medical cannabis available and is poised to become a major exporter of the crop, though local medical cannabis users have complained of near-impossible access to the few dispensaries licensed to distribute it.

Recreational use of the drug is currently illegal, though the Public Security Ministry partially decriminalized it in 2017, setting fines and treatment for initial offenders instead of criminal procedures.

Research has shown that the illegal cannabis industry in Israel turns over about US$1,7 billion a year and that a legalized cannabis industry would generate revenue of up to three times that amount within the next five years.


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