Ra’am Votes Send Coalition Cannabis Bill Down to Defeat

YERUSHALAYIM -

A bill to decriminalize the recreational use of cannabis failed passage in the Knesset on Wednesday as MK’s from the coalition’s Islamic Ra’am party joined opposition parties voting against it, The Times of Israel reported.

The measure was defeated 52-55 after Ra’am MKs Walid Taha and Mazen Ghanaim voted against it, while Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas was not present.

New Hope MK Sharren Haskel hoped to catch the opposition off guard with a snap vote, but enough MKs rushed back to the plenum in time to vote it down, according to Channel 12 news.

Haskel, the author of the bill, had agreed to delay a previous vote to give Abbas more time to sound out Arab opinion. Apparently, it was not favorable.

The bill would have permitted Israeli adults to possess up to 50 grams of marijuana and to grow up to 15 plants for personal use. Anyone possessing marijuana in excess of that amount could face a NIS 2,000 (over $600) fine.

Marijuana consumption in public would continue to be illegal, with violators subject to a fine of NIS 500.

She excoriated her former colleagues in the Likud for not supporting the bill, as in principle they support the idea, but have refused to vote with the coalition even on matters they approve of, in order to hasten the government’s demise by showing it cannot pass its legislative agenda.

“But you prefer personal political considerations over the public benefit and over a law that you yourself believe is necessary. You achieved a small political victory, but you caused a great injustice,” she said in a statement.