Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may approve legislation that would permit Israelis to grow cannabis at home and smoke weed in public.
An election is looming in September and Netanyahu is keen to endorse popular policies in a bid to ignite his campaign. He failed to form a governing coalition after April’s election and the Knesset voted to dissolve itself, leading to the new vote that will take place in September.
Liberalizing the country’s cannabis laws could be an easy way to gain votes and he is considering an initiative from MK Sharren Haskel, a staunch advocate of adult-use legalization. She went live on Channel 13 news this week and said Netanyahu is open to the idea of pushing the bill through and is favourably disposed towards it.
Just days before the ballot in April, he pledged to pursue full legalization. It is sure to be a hot topic in the build-up to the September election. Pro-cannabis party Zehut received 120,000 votes at the last ballot.
In March, marijuana possession was partially decriminalized, as anyone caught with small amounts in public now initially faces fines starting at NIS 1,000 ($280) and would only face criminal indictments after being caught several times within a five-year period.
“I promise to fight for this over the next two weeks to ensure we have genuine decriminalization,” said Haskel.
The country is at the forefront of the medicinal cannabis industry, where it has pioneered innovative technology for several decades. It has exploded in popularity this year since Israel permitted firms to export medicinal marijuana. They had threatened to take their operations abroad if the Knesset did not change its laws, and it eventually relented in a 21-0 vote.
Two former Israeli Prime Ministers, two former Israeli Air Force Commanders and several more former high-ranking officials hold senior roles within the industry.
There are signs of consolidation starting to take hold, as Together Pharma Ltd (TLV: TGTR) announced it has snapped up Jerusalem-based Cannabliss Ltd. for NIS 14 million ($3.9 million) this week. Cannabliss produces concentrates such as oils and edibles, while it also has a research and development arm at a hospital in Jerusalem.