Tourist Tip #186 Keep Off the Grass

You may sniff a whiff in the street. But don't let faux casualness of users mislead you. Drugs are illegal.

Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

There you are, strolling down some leafy boulevard in an Israeli city or town, and you smell it. You know that smell. But you should also know this. Though the Middle Eastern drug culture is almost as old as its hills, in Israel, it's illegal. Period.

To wit, it is illegal to buy, sell and consume drugs, from the mildest of hashish – a favorite intoxicant down the Middle Eastern millennia - to the trendiest of party pills.

The tourist might be fooled into thinking otherwise by the seeming casualness with which drugs are occasionally consumed in public. It had become such a norm in nightclubs that in recent weeks the police cracked down hard, arresting dozens in late-night raids.

But while the police are anecdotally less severe with smokers as opposed to dealers, make no mistake. Official tolerance is zero and you can get busted.

Put otherwise, there is no such thing as a permissible amount of narcotics that you may possess.

Getting caught can result in criminal charges, with all that entails, not to mention a grilling about how you came across the drug. The authorities tend to leniency in the case of using "light" drugs (not "heavy" ones) - if the user can prove that he is otherwise normative and leads a productive life: the case may never reach the court, says a lawyer who's handled more than a few of these cases.

But if the authorities so choose, the maximal punishment for use alone – not trafficking – is three years, warns our lawyer.

The burden of proof – consumption versus trafficking – depends on the type of drug and the weight you're caught possessing. For marijuana, for example, it's 15 grams, says the lawyer; get caught with more than that and the assumption is you're dealing.

And it bears mention that if one is caught smoking weed at the wheel, you may as well eat your driver's license when the munchies come, because it'll be toast.

Getting caught with drugs can result in criminal charges, with all that entails, not to mention a grilling about how you came across them. Credit: Ilya Melnikov
A drug bust with police pooch. Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


מריאן ס' מריאן אומנות

The Artist Who Survived Auschwitz Thought Israel Was 'Worse Than the Concentration Camp'

הקלטות מעוז

Jewish Law Above All: Recordings Reveal Far-right MK's Plan to Turn Israel Into Theocracy

איתמר בן גביר

Why I’m Turning My Back on My Jewish Identity

Travelers looking at the Departures board at Ben Gurion Airport. The number of olim who later become yordim is unknown.

Down and Out: Why These New Immigrants Ended Up Leaving Israel

Beatrice Grannò and Simona Tabasco as Mia and Lucia in "The White Lotus."

The Reality Behind ‘The White Lotus’ Sex Work Fantasy

The Mossad hit team in Dubai. Exposed by dozens of security cameras

This ‘Dystopian’ Cyber Firm Could Have Saved Mossad Assassins From Exposure