Israel is regarded as one of the global leaders in cannabis innovation and research, but despite the country's progressive medical marijuana laws, non-medical use of pot remains prohibited.
That may change in the very near future, according to a new report by The Times of Israel. A committee of representatives from several key government ministries is apparently about to drop a new report recommending that the country take steps towards full legalization. The committee, which was specifically created to reevaluate the country’s cannabis prohibition laws, is expected to recommend total decriminalization of adult-use marijuana as the first step towards legalization.
Israel has already partially decriminalized recreational cannabis use, replacing steep fines and jail time with smaller fines and enforced treatment services for minor offenders. This June, two of the country's leading political ministries released a joint statement announcing that they would advance bills “to resolve the issue of decriminalization and legalization,” The Times of Israel reports.
The Public Security Ministry also released its own statement clarifying its intent “to minimize harm as much as possible to [otherwise] law-abiding citizens who have offenses linked to the drug.” According to recent reports, around 27 percent of all Israeli adults currently smoke weed.
This summer, lawmakers advanced two bills to create a taxed and regulated adult-use cannabis market. The bills would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 15 grams of weed, and would decriminalize possession of between 16 and 50 grams of pot. These bills must still pass three separate votes in the country's legislature before they can become law, though.
These votes have yet to materialize, but the government committee's new report is likely to set the process of legalization into motion. Prior to this report, the Israeli Health Ministry has opposed legalizing non-medical marijuana use, but insiders expect the ministry to change their stance once the new report is unveiled.
Full adult-use legalization would bring Israel's adult-use cannabis laws in line with its highly progressive medical cannabis program. Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam and his team of scientists actually discovered the existence of THC and CBD back in the 1960s, and is continuing to devise new forms of cannabis medicine today. Based on the strength of this home-grown research, Israel legalized medical marijuana in the 1990s and is currently gearing up to become one of the world's largest exporters of medical-grade pot.