Ministers Approve Decriminalizing the Use of Cannabis

YERUSHALAYIM -
An employee tends to a medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel in 2019. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved on Sunday a bill to decriminalize the use of cannabis.

Housing Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) and Yerushalayim Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz (Jewish Home) both voted against the bill.

The bill, sponsored by MK Ram Shefa (Blue and White) and MK Sharen Haskel (Likud), also includes proposed reforms for medical marijuana.

It is expected be voted on later this week by the Knesset in the first of three readings on its way to become law.

“For the first time in the State of Israel’s history, my legislative move is officially beginning to regulate the cannabis market in Israel,” Haskel wrote in an online post. “I’m proud to bring good news to over one million cannabis users and tens of thousands of sick people.”

Haskel has pushed in the past for the decriminalization of cannabis use in Israel. In recent interviews, she stated that she intended to promote the issue in legislation as soon as possible and that she expected a bill to be passed in the coming months.

Former Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman attacked the Committee for allowing the advancement of the law: “[Cannabis] is a dangerous drug and you mustn’t give in to public pressure. If anyone needs it as medicine, he should receive it as a prescription. As health minister, I approved the proper use of cannabis, but not in a manner that people can get addicted to it.”