Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering recreational cannabis legalization as part of a sweeping overhaul of the country’s marijuana laws.
He has created a committee tasked with “importing the Canadian model for regulating a legal market”. Minister of Justice Amir Ohana will head up the committee and it will also include Oren Leibowitz, chairman of the pro-cannabis Green Leaf Party.
Netanyahu made the announcement on Twitter. He also pledged to expunge the criminal records of anyone previously convicted of possessing cannabis. This could benefit more than 40,000 people, allowing them to gain easier access to employment, housing, and education.
“I examined the matter and decided to advance the erasure of criminal records of tens of thousands of Israelis for personal use and cannabis possession, something that causes unnecessary suffering to many and is a burden on the courts,” Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter account.
Netanyahu also said he would “promote immediate solutions” to reducing the price of medical marijuana, which recently increased to an all-time high as a result of industry reform.
It was music to the ears of the Green Leaf Party. Leibovich said that the time is right for Israel to follow in the footsteps of Canada, which legalized adult-use cannabis in 2018.
He thanked the Prime Minister for taking the time to meet up with him, paid attention to his points and will include him in the committee tasked with exploring legalization.
However, the opposition Blue and White party accused Netanyahu of making pledges that he will never actually honour in a bid to drum up support ahead of the legislative elections set to take place on March 2.
The Prime Minister made pro-cannabis vows before elections in April and September 2019. Both failed to produce a majority government, meaning Israel now needs an unprecedented third vote in order to try to break the deadlock.
The country has long been a pioneer in the medical cannabis sector and it began exporting to the UK three weeks ago. Very few countries have legalized recreational cannabis sales, and Israel could benefit from increased tourism if it does, while it would also help the country become a big player in the export of adult-use marijuana.
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