Israel Legislative Hearing Finds Support for National Cannabis Legalization

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According to the head of Israel Police’s drug research unit, there were just two indictments filed related to cannabis in 2016 in the entire country, Haaretz reports. During a legislative Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse hearing, Keren Lerner, the head of the unit, indicated that between 2010 and 2015 there was a 30 percent decline in the number of personal-use cannabis cases – 54 percent of such cases levied against adults and 60 percent opened against minors were eventually dropped.

“Police policy is moving toward enforcement against growing [marijuana] and not personal use,” Lerner said during the hearing.

Haim Messing, former director of the Anti-Drug Authority, said that he has come to the conclusion “that the struggle against the individual user of cannabis is futile.”

“The United Nations has agreed that criminal pursuit has failed and that it must be addressed from a health aspect,” Messing said. “From a public perspective, we’re talking about a cultural perception by normative people and the best proof is what happens in the courts.”

Asa Kasher, an ethics professor, testified that decriminalization warranted and the nation must “move the fence.”

“We have to return to the principles of living in a democracy,” Kasher said. “The primary expression of human dignity is a person’s freedom to conduct his life as he pleases so long as it poses no threat to anyone else. The justified boundaries of freedom only come when expanding freedom creates a danger, so we have to ask what would happen if we expand freedom in the realm of cannabis?”

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Two members of the Knesset committee indicated they would both support the decriminalization and eventual legalization of cannabis in Israel.

“It’s true that massive violation of a law is not a good enough reason [to change policy], but in this case we see a huge, normative and law-abiding public that consumes cannabis, and these people are not lawbreakers,” MK Shelly Yacimovich said. “We are at the point at which there is no real reason to enforce this law, but to change it.”

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