Israeli Justice Minister envisions a recreational cannabis market launching within the next nine months

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Nine months from now, Israel could have a fully functioning legal weed market. This is according to Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn who, on Thursday, November 12, revealed the Middle Eastern country’s intentions to launch a recreational cannabis industry.

These recommendations, which had been prepared by an inter ministerial team, were put before the Israeli government as part of a collaborative effort between Nissenkorn, Likud MK Sharren Haskel, and Blue and White MK Ram Shefa. According to Nissenkorn, the prospective market will balance both “liberalism and responsibility.”

Before we reach December, an explanatory memorandum outlining the proposed bill to legalize recreational cannabis in Israel will be drafted. This was confirmed by Nissenkorn, who is a member of the 21st Knesset for the Israel Resilience Party, constituting the Blue and White list. 

“It’s time to make progress and legalize cannabis in Israel,” Nissenkorn told reporters. “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.”

A former chairman of the Histadrut labor union, Nissenkorn feels confident that a recreational market can be established nine months after the memorandum is published. He says that once the regulatory framework has been outlined clearly government ministries will have ample time to get everything in order for a market to be kickstarted.

“[Cannabis legalization in Israel] does justice to more than a million lawful citizens,” said Likud MK Sharren Haskel. 

“We will not let anyone in the Knesset or outside it stop us,” added Blue and White MK Ram Shefa.

An overview of Israel’s recreational cannabis law 

Based on reports regarding the newly proposed bill for recreational cannabis legalization in Israel, people aged 21 and over would be legally able to purchase the plant except edibles at specialty stores. Identification will be requested by the staff at dispensaries, of which will be granted the opportunity to conduct home deliveries.

In an effort to deter customers from buying cheap black market weed, the inter ministerial team’s recommendation states that prices will be “reasonable”. Moreover, if cannabis legalization in Israel is enacted, the plant cannot be taken into or outside of Israel.

Currently, the recreational use of cannabis in Israel is illegal. However, the country has progressively made headway with patients’ access to medical cannabis in recent years; so much so, that Israel stands to become a major global exporter. 

In 2017, the drug was partially decriminalized by the Public Security Ministry. Nowadays, Deputy Attorney General Amir Merari affirms that the government is leaning more towards legalization than decriminalization, because “decriminalization doesn’t provide a solution for problems such as the black market.”

Israel’s recreational cannabis law will impose a number of limitations 

While the prospects of legal weed in Israel may be promising, recreational consumers should be aware of the fact that certain restrictions will be put in place; should the bill be approved and enacted into law. For example, smoking cannabis in public spaces will be forbidden. Retailers must also refrain from marketing their products in the form of advertisements.

Aside from restrictions on smoking cannabis in public, consumers must also abide by homegrowing rules the plant cannot be grown at home unless the grower possesses a license. On the other hand, the team responsible for putting this bill under the noses of government officials are optimistic that limitations will be discussed and, eventually, lifted.

This fresh legislative effort has transpired since the Knesset passed preliminary readings for two cannabis legalization bills back in June. Following the approval of these linked bills, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White parties declared that they would proceed with legislation efforts as a means of resolving “the issue of decriminalization and legalization.”

According to their joint statement, cannabis reform would be dealt with “via a responsible model that will be suited to the State of Israel and the Israeli population.”