In surprising new developments, Israel has just gotten one step closer to legalising cannabis after new legislation passes the first vote in the Knesset.
If you caught our story on Israel’s cannabis fight last week, you might remember that the bill was passed by the Israel Ministerial Committee for Legislation but needed three votes in the Knesset to become law. Now, one of those votes has passed preliminary approval – approving the bill for a second vote.
If passed a third time, the bill will legalise the personal consumption of cannabis. This will allow adults over the age of 21 to purchase cannabis from authorised cannabis dispensaries.
The founders of the bill, Likud MK Sharren Hasel and Blue and White MK Ram Shefa have been using data from Colorado to advocate for the bill. After cannabis was legalised in Colorado, driving under the influence of alcohol decreased by 15%, underage cannabis use decreased, and the state collected over $130 million in cannabis taxes.
Developments to this bill are only made possible by a change in public opinion, as Israel’s previous government was ultra-orthodox and right-wing under direction from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Since the 2019 Israeli election, cannabis has been a hot topic among voters, with high numbers of young people pushing for cannabis legalisation.
Interestingly, not everyone in the Knesset will be voting on this bill. As part of a deal with Chair Miki Zohar, ultra-Orthodox Knesset members have been permitted to absent themselves from voting. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is no pot fan, he has given the legislation his approval.
Speaking to the Knesset Plenary last week, Haskel told the parliament:
Regulation of the cannabis issue for personal use is one of my generation’s symbols of personal freedom.
Given countries in the Middle East were the catalyst for the global outlawing of cannabis in the 20th Century, we’re pleased to see the new generation is set on turning things around.