Israel has just announced that the country will be drafting a memo for approval that would legalize and regulate cannabis nationwide, adding them to the ranks of countries with legal cannabis across the globe.
The announcement comes from the inter-ministerial committee, who have been debating about the regulation of Israel’s cannabis market for some time now, working on this legislation for the last four months. They published conclusions on Thursday of this week, and now, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn and the Justice Ministry will be drafting a legal memo for government approval.
A bill is expected to be introduced for an initial reading possibly as early as this year, though more likely in early 2021, but it will still probably take as much as nine months for legislation to truly kick in and for a legal industry to be established and regulated. The bill must still be rewritten into a law by the Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Use, and more considerations must be made to see what the industry will need.
“I see great importance that these two bills [for decriminalization and legalization] be put forth as a single bill, which will be a responsible, holistic step for Israel without compromise. I am committed to leading, advancing and supervising the application of these recommendations for reform, while doing the preparations required in the memo on time,” said Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh, who chairs the Knesset’s Special Committee on drug and Alcohol use.
As of yet, a budget has yet to be determined for data tracking, mental health, addiction issues, and enforcement in order to transition the country over to a legal model. There will also be a major focus on keeping teens from cannabis use, as has been done in Canada.
A Path To Cannabis Legislation
It took Israel, where medical cannabis has been legal since the 1990s, a while to land on this decision. First, the country did an in-depth study that weighed the success and failures of legalization in other countries, comparing different models of legalization and decriminalization across the board.
This past Thursday, a special discussion was held in which Deputy Attorney-General Amit Meraris shared the findings of the committee that carried out the study and introduced the experts who were able to speak on the subject of cannabis. They went over the needs of the country, as well as the legal needs of founding an industry and providing for legal cannabis infrastructure.
The committee said there is an essential need for detailed and thorough legislation concerning all possible aspects of the regulation, a lesson from the Colorado model, which had much less data to go on when the Rocky Mountain state chose to legalize cannabis in 2012.
While the process still has a long way to go, after it is complete, Israel will truly have a regulated, legal market. Even tourists will be able to buy cannabis at certain dispensaries, as long as they are at least 21 with an ID. While this may not happen until a bit later in 2021, the country is poised for legalization.