Israeli Anti-drug Group Launches War Against Legalizing Cannabis

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A pot store in Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized. The IADA is particularly concerned about widespread use among teens.Credit: AP

The Israel Anti-Drug Authority is getting increasingly concerned about how the public debate on easing restrictions on marijuana use is influencing attitudes toward the drug, particularly among young people. As a result, it is now taking action to counter any process toward legalization of cannabis.

“The public discourse about medical marijuana and legalization [of marijuana] has led to a decline in the perceived danger of cannabis by the Israeli public,” according to position paper written by the IADA a year ago.

In recent weeks the organization has been distributing a booklet called “Marijuana: The Whole Truth.” The 90-page booklet is a collection of articles from local and international media, along with surveys and position papers by the Israeli Society of Addiction Medicine and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The publication also presents the IADA’s own statement on the subject. In general the articles stress the medical and social risks posed by use of marijuana.

The 250 copies that IADA printed were distributed to members of Knesset, officials in government ministries and other decision makers, as well as to the editorial offices of various media outlets. The accompanying, personally addressed letter, signed by authority chairman Zvi Hendel and director Yair Geller, said: “We are confident that the information in this booklet will make you and your media colleagues rethink the issue, in light of the heavy cost to Israeli society if restrictions on drug use are eased.”

IADA, Geller noted, “is concerned by the influence of the discourse on legalization, particularly on teenagers. Nearly 20 percent of those under the age of 25 who are in drug-rehab centers are there because of marijuana. The rate of addiction among teens who use marijuana is about one in six.”

Asked for more information about the booklet, the IADA spokesman issued the following statement: “Expressing a position on legislation relating to drugs and alcohol use constitutes a substantial part of the authority’s work, and just as we convey the message in Knesset committees, it’s import for us to convey it to the public through the media.”

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