An inter-ministerial committee charged with studying how a recreational marijuana market can be established and regulated in Israel has concluded its four-month long process of weekly meetings. The committee has agreed that marijuana should be legalized for adult use in the country. If all goes as expected, recreational marijuana could be available to residents and tourists in by late next year.
On Thursday, the committee handed its report to the country’s justice minister, after which he pledged that a draft legal memo was going to be written in the coming days for presentation to cabinet. Once the Cabinet approves that memo, a legalization bill will be presented to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) before the end of this year.
Amit Merari, the deputy attorney general, said during a special discussion of the report that there were a number of grey areas on matters of legislation and research on marijuana. Therefore, different government departments would need some time to fill those gaps before a regulated cannabis market can be established. The nine-month interval would be sufficient to address those gaps.
The committee cited the example of Colorado, which established its recreational marijuana market in 2012 before finding solutions to many of the potential problems that could arise, such as challenges in tracking marijuana from seed to sale.
Israel plans to avoid such pitfalls by investing in tracking systems, public education (on issues of impaired driving, for example) and addiction rehabilitation. Canada was credited for having a good model for preventing teen access to recreational marijuana, and the committee recommended that Israel follow best practices from that North American country.
Another issue that will be carefully considered before a regulation is adopted is how much marijuana people should be allowed to possess legally. It is noteworthy to observe that while the committee recommended that the home cultivation of marijuana should remain illegal, this issue too will be revisited after the regulated market is in place.
The committee report seems to be agreeable to marijuana policy reform advocates for three key reasons.
First, the plan is built around the harm-reduction principle, with provisions addressing the problems created by marijuana criminalization while also anticipating those problems that could come as a result of legalization.
Secondly, the plan would make it possible for the scientific community to study the health and societal effects of marijuana, thereby availing data upon which policy decisions can be made.
The third reason given to support the legalization report is that marijuana has been illegal since Israel came into being, and such criminalization hasn’t reduced the number of people who access and use marijuana. Legalization would open the door to better prevention and treatment programs.
What is now left is to see how the legislative process will go so that people can finally be able to access marijuana legally.
An interesting marijuana company you should watch is Gage Cannabis Co. This Michigan-based firm is aiming to become the biggest brand in the state, and its managerial pedigree is proof of how intent they are to attain that objective.
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