Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90
Illustrative image of a person smoking marijuana. February 11, 2020.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and Vice Premier Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party issued a joint statement on Tuesday saying they would work to “resolve the issue of decriminalization and legalization” of marijuana.

Blue and White MK Ram Shefa and Likud MK Sharren Haskel would advance a bill “as soon as possible” aiming to make it easier for patients to get access to medical marijuana and easier for growers to obtain licenses, according to the statement.

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But the proposed legislation will also apply to recreational use, according to a report by Channel 12, though details were not revealed, with the statement simply indicating that it would be “a responsible model that will fit the State of Israel and the Israeli population.”

According to the report, cannabis use will be permitted only over the age of 21, driving will be forbidden while under the influence of cannabis, designated shops will sell it, educational programs will be established to teach about the dangers and addictive properties of cannabis, and advertising will be heavily restricted.

Cannabis use was partially decriminalized in Israel in 2017, with first-time offenders being subject to fines and treatment rather than criminal charges.

Last week, the Public Security Ministry issued a statement confirming that its new head, Amir Ohana, who oversees Israel’s police, aims “to minimize harm as much as possible to law-abiding citizens who have offenses linked to the drug.”

When he served as justice minister, Ohana decried the criminalization of marijuana, saying it “took law-abiding citizens and turned them into criminals. Not because they harmed another person, God forbid, but rather because they allegedly harmed themselves.”

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