Cannabis legalization project fails in Israel

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A bill to legalize cannabis in Israel was stopped dead in the Knesset, the Hebrew state parliament, due to opposition from lawmakers in the Ra’am party.

Sharren Haskel, the New Hope Party MP behind the proposal, hoped to get it through in a snap vote, as many opposition MPs were not present at the time. They nevertheless returned quickly to vote against the law.

The vote fell 52-55 after MPs Ra’am Walid Taha and Mazen Ghanaim voted against the law along with opposition parties.

Previously, a vote on the bill had been postponed due to opposition from the Ra’am, who asked for more time to consider how the legalization of cannabis would be received among its supporters in the Arab community. The coalition holds a very slim majority in the Knesset, with limited ability to push forward legislation without Ra’am’s backing.

After the failed vote on Wednesday, Sharren Haskel said she introduced the law to keep a campaign pledge to legalize cannabis within three months of taking office.

“Even though I knew the bill would be defeated, I decided to bring it up,” said Sharren Haskel.

She criticized the Likud party, from which she left last December, for not supporting the bill. His deputies in principle support such an approach, but have ruled out any cooperation with the coalition of which he is not part.

“But you prefer personal political considerations to the public interest and to a law that you yourself deem necessary. You have obtained a small political victory, but you have caused a great injustice, ”she said in a statement.

Last year, when Haskel was still a Likud MP, the party voted to legalize cannabis. The Knesset has since been dissolved and new elections have been called before two bills can pass the three plenary readings needed to become law.

Sharren Haskel said she would continue to try to advance legalization “by any legal means at my disposal, whether parliamentary or extra-parliamentary,” she added.

The bill initiated by Sharren Haskel would allow Israeli adults to own up to 50 grams of cannabis and grow up to 15 plants for their personal use. Anyone possessing a quantity of cannabis greater than this limit is liable to a fine of 2,000 NIS (€ 520).

Consumption of marijuana in public will remain prohibited, with violators liable to a fine of 500 NIS (€ 130).

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