Proponents of cannabis legalization in the Knesset, especially those who championed legislation to regulate a legal cannabis market in Israel, were behind the dissolution of Israel’s government on Monday night, and therefore also behind the collapse of the legislative process for legalization in Israel Cannabis Magazine reported Tuesday morning (דווקא תומכי הלגליזציה הובילו לקריסת היוזמה ללגליזציה).
The magazine points out that the dissolution of the government before the bill for legalization was approved in at least a first reading prevents the bill from being preserved by the continuity procedure for the next Knesset. This means the legislative process of cannabis legalization is reset to zero, with all the stages of legislation that have already been approved, including the approval of the Ministerial Committee and approval in a preliminary reading being completely abolished.
The Knesset voted early Tuesday morning by a majority of 49 to 47 against continuing the government’s term so that the Knesset will dissolve on Tuesday at midnight, and Israel will go to elections on March 23, 2021, or, more likely on March 16, seeing as the Passover seder night is on March 27 at night.
The vote, which handed a resounding defeat to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partner Benny Gantz, was facilitated by a parliamentary maneuver by rogue Blue&White MKs Assaf Zamir, Miki Haimovich, and Ram Shefa, who hid in the bathroom and emerged at the last minute for the vote, to the utter surprise of both Bibi and Benny.
MK Shefa orchestrated Blue&White’s legalization bill (he is expected to join Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party soon), and he also orchestrated the bathroom move, effectively sinking the pro-cannabis legislation, having gone out on a limb with a promise that legalization would be approved in the current Knesset.
Two rogue Likud MKs Michal Shir and Sharren Haskel who betrayed their party also happened to be enthusiastic supporters of legalization. MK Shir told reporters that she was ill, only to recover miraculously at the last minute and vote in the plenum against her party. MK Haskel abstained.
Blue&White Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, who endorsed the government’s legalization bill, and pledged only three weeks ago that “within 9 months legalization will be approved,” was another coup conspirator, and is also likely to land a good spot on Lapid’s list.
According to the polls, the next Knesset will have a larger presence of rightwing parties that oppose legalization. The newcomer party, New Hope, which is expected to win as many as 20 Knesset seats, is led by Gideon Saar who does not support legalization and Yifat Shasha-Biton who opposes legalization. Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, which is expected to at least double its Knesset seats, also opposes legalization. Meanwhile, the natural opponents of legalization, the Haredi and Islamist parties, are expected to maintain their power, give or take a couple of seats. This does not bode well for the pro-legalization camp in Israel.
Cannabis magazine pointed out that alongside the major loss of legalization legislation, more minor pro-cannabis initiatives are also being scrapped: decriminalization of cannabis use; removing the non-hallucinatory CBD-only cannabis from the Drug Ordinance; allowing doctors to order cannabis for their patients using a simple prescription; lowering cannabis prices in pharmacies; allowing direct marketing of marketing, and a number of similar bills promised by Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch (Likud) are also expected to crash with the legislative process on them being reset to zero.