Israel’s Knesset mulls medical marijuana
An Israeli policeman stands at a greenhouse in which marijuana was illegally grown, on Oct. 10, 2010, following a police raid in the Negev desert. (AFP/David Buimovitch)
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Bureaucracy surrounding medical marijuana permits often drives patients in need to break the law and turn to the black market, MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said Tuesday, in a Knesset committee meeting to discuss decriminalization of cannabis for personal use.
“The wait to receive medical marijuana can be as long as a year to two years, so that by the time it arrives sometimes it’s no longer needed. The bureaucracy causes sick people to become criminals and acquire cannabis illegally because they are waiting for a permit,” Slomiansky said.
His statement came during a meeting held by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which was called by MKs Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) and Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), the latter an outspoken supporter of Cannabis legalization and an admitted user of the controlled substance.
Lavie expressed her opposition to legalization and or decriminalization, and cited her experience working at a rehab facility where by her estimation 30% of the people were being treated for Cannabis abuse. She said that greater legalization would be a "slippery slope" for Israeli society leading to greater drug abuse and social ills.
Zandberg, for her part, said “it’s hard to miss the public opinion changes in the world and Israel in recent years.”
She added that the government must find ways to adapt the reality of law enforcement today in Israel to the changing currents of public opinion.
During the meeting, a number of those present mentioned comments from mid-May by National Police Commissioner, Inspector General Yochanan Danino, who said the time has come for the government and police to reexamine their policies on the use of Cannabis, and look to other countries for guidance.
“I think the time has come for the Israel police, together with the state, to reexamine their stance on Cannabis. I think we must sit and study what’s happening around the world with Cannabis."
By Ben Hartman