Knesset votes to advance cannabis legalization
MK Sharren Haskel before the cannabis legalization vote
(photo credit: KNESSET)
"Legalizing cannabis would be symbolic for my generation as a sign of our personal freedom," said Haskel, 36, who was born in Toronto, where cannabis is legal.
The Knesset plenum voted on Wednesday to advance in a preliminary reading two bills that would legalize cannabis, but they still have to go through several months of legislation before they become law.A bill sponsored by Likud MK Sharren Haskel passed by a 61-11 vote. A similar bill by Blue and White MK Ram Shefa passed 53-12.
"Legalizing cannabis would be symbolic for my generation as a sign of our personal freedom," said Haskel, 36, who was born in Toronto, where cannabis is legal.Haskel told the plenum that 30% of Israeli adults use cannabis. She said legalizing it revitalized the economy of Colorado and that too much money is wasted every year by Israel's police on 30,000 people who get tickets for using and possessing pot.The bills faced criticism from Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich, who urged Shas and United Torah Judaism to veto them. Instead, they walked out and did not participate in the votes."Legalizing cannabis would be a dangerous social experiment that will destroy future generations of Israelis," Smotrich warned.The bills state that possessing up to 50 grams or up to two cannabis plants in a private place for personal use (grown under natural light) would not be a crime. Possessing more than that would still be subject to a large fine, and using cannabis in public would remain illegal. Those who have been convicted of using cannabis privately could ask for their convictions to be canceled.The private use of cannabis would be permitted to Israelis from the age of 21, with the exception of those working in security positions. In addition, it would be prohibited to drive while under its influence. An advocacy fund will be set up to educate people in schools about the dangers of using cannabis and to prevent addictions. All advertising restrictions relating to tobacco would also apply to cannabis products.If the bills pass, it could pave the way for the establishment of cannabis retail outlets in Israel.The bills are expected to be combined in committee. They will then be brought back through the legislative process as a government-sponsored bill and will then have to pass three more times each in the committee and the plenum to become law.