Going Green

Ministry to Announce 'Far Reaching' Regulations of Marijuana Use in Israel

Two bills to ease restrictions on the drug have been rejected in recent months after the Health Ministry announced that it was preparing a comprehensive bill.

The Health Ministry is expected to announce a bill to regulate the independent use of cannabis (also known as marijuana) in Israel in the coming weeks.

Israeli legislators have repeatedly failed to pass bills that would legalize the drug in Israel. Some of the attempts were aimed at legalizing the drug for medicinal use, while others proposed the legalization for independent use. The Health Ministry bill says it is planning a "far-reaching" bill aimed at medicinal use of the drug.

The ministerial legislative committee has disqualified two bills related to the issue in recent months. One, proposed by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), sought to include cannabis on the list of drugs that provide medicinal benefits. Currently, morphine and heroin are designated as such, which makes it easier for them to be used by the healthcare system for treatment of patients.

Last week, a bill proposed by MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) that would have allowed any doctor to prescribe cannabis for use by patients as a pain medication was struck down. Feiglin’s bill also would have allowed the public to grown cannabis for its own use.

Both bills were rejected after the Health Ministry stated that it was planning to announce a comprehensive law that would regulate the medical use of cannabis in the near future. The legislative committee granted the Health Ministry 45 days to announce such a bill, and allowed Feiglin to reintroduce his bill in the Knesset it the Health Ministry failed to deliver in time.

At the same time, Zandberg is expected to present another cannabis-related bill this week. The new bill would differentiate between the use of cannabis and hard drugs, thus “decriminalizing” those individuals found by the police to be using cannabis. Recreational use of cannabis currently results in a criminal record.

Zandberg has been leading the efforts in the Knesset aimed at legalizing cannabis for recreational use. She has called her efforts “recognizing reality.”

A recent Gallup poll, reported in the New York Times, found that 58 percent of Americans believe that cannbis should be made legal.

Daniel Tchetchik