Towards the end of June, the citizens of Israel were informed that their government had begun a legislative process that would eventually end the criminalization policy of cannabis consumers and fully regulate the local cannabis market.
The news of the historic decision put a smile on the faces of many Israelis who anticipated impatiently for the long-awaited change. However, it turns out that in the State of Israel there are quite a few dinosaurs left. These dinosaurs are sure they are still living in the prehistoric period and as a result, they are trying in every way possible to abolish the impending legalization – and all means are kosher.
So how exactly do dinosaurs look and sound like in 2020?
Alcohol safer than Cannabis?
The most identified MK (a member of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament) with the resistance to softening cannabis laws in Israel is, without doubt, Bezalel Smotrich from “Yamina” (“to the right”) party. Smotrich, who enjoys posting on his Twitter account photos of the wine he makes in his private home, explained why alcohol is OK and cannabis is not:
“Alcohol addiction is something that can be identified very quickly, a drunken teenager is something you can see and smell, but weed works differently. A lad can consume cannabis for a very long time without anyone noticing,” Smotrich said “He smokes a cigarette after the joint to replace the smell, and it will be very difficult to detect that he is using the substance. the red-eye will be excused as fatigue, lack of concentration will be justified as attention deficit disorders, etc.”
Smotrich even rose to speak on the issue at a meeting of the Knesset, and during his speech he argued inter alia that “in Colorado, they are looking for any way to get rid of this thing (Legalization) since they understand the damage it does,” he said confidently, further ignoring the fact that punishment for cannabis use is a criminal offense, and argued that “there are a lot of people that are driving over the speed limit on the road, so we will not enforce speeding offenses? It will save a lot of time in court.”
“Legalization would lead to a national disaster!”
Another star that spoke out against the legalization of cannabis in Israel was the ex-Knesset member and the former Minister of Education, Mrs. Limor Livnat, who wrote a column on the popular Israeli news web site, YNET:
“Some might call me outdated, or unpopular,” she wrote in the column. “But from a quick check I did, cannabis for recreational use is illegal in the vast majority of countries around the world. So, what is the rush here? What is so urgent? Meanwhile, only 20 percent of the young people in Israel who have lost their day job following the Corona crisis managed to return to the labor market. Let’s drug them out, that’s a wonderful solution. but seriously: forget about the Legalization idea. We have enough trouble anyway.”
It seems that Isaac Alon, who was for a short period a MK from the “Kachol-Lavan” (“blue and white”) party and presently found himself outside the list, misses the media attention. On his Twitter account he posted some rather bizarre claims:
“This is a dangerous and addictive drug and permitting its use will lead to a national disaster! Cannabis is harmful in terms of cognitive function, and quitting the use of this drug is very difficult. How exactly are we going to run the army? Employing stoned soldiers?”
Alon went on to refute the dangers of cannabis use in general and the legalization idea in particular. However, the biggest opponents of regulating the cannabis market in Israel are without a doubt the couple Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, who publish the most widespread newspaper in the country – “Israel Hayum” (“Israel Today”).
“Cannabis is an entrance door to harder drugs”
The couple Miriam and Sheldon Adelson are well-known real estate tycoons from the United States. In their possession, among others, a variety of casinos in the United States and East Asia. In recent years they have contributed to several initiatives opposing the legalization of cannabis, and even the use of medical marijuana.
Now it seems that the couple wishes to use its powerful newspaper which is distributed daily free of charge across the country for this purpose. In a special column published by Mrs. Miriam Adelson, she claimed that:
“To drugs experts, like myself, watching the statement issued by the “Likud” and “Kachol Lavan” parties, declaring that they will work together to normalize the use of cannabis in Israel, it was like watching a disaster happening on the full screen.” Mrs. Adelson went on to claim that “cannabis is an entrance door to harder drugs… unequivocally, the drug affects our youth and makes them wise less, and increases the chances that they would waste their lives.”
Despite the harsh words written here by Mrs. Adelson, it appears that the newspaper managed to break new records, after they took a text written by Professor Itamar Raz, edited it and re-posted it in a distorted manner.
Education is the answer
Professor Raz’s column was published under the headline “Take care of the future generation: cannabis – like sugar and cocaine – is addictive.” In the text itself, the professor allegedly writes that he fears the promotion of the idea of legalization and states that in his opinion “such a move would harm the public.”
At first sight, one might get the impression that professor Raz is another dinosaur, but when Oren Leibovich, editor of the Israeli “Cannabis Magazine” asked the professor for some clarification – Prof. Raz was quick to deny segments of the text and noted that “I even wrote that many countries did legalize cannabis, perhaps they removed it, it’s a shame. I think we need to find a way for an adult person who is over the age of 21 to be able to consume cannabis if he wishes to because it’s not a dangerous drug, it has drawbacks for sure, like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol has drawbacks. but the danger and harm aren’t in a level that one should go to jail if he smokes.”
Professor Raz added that “should the approach be indictment and persecution? Of course not! I did not write that this is what it should be,” he concluded. “…There is no doubt that the best way to deal with this complex issue is through education. It is not right to incriminate adult cannabis consumers and the regulation and supervision of the local cannabis market must take place.”
Published and Written by Ziv Genesove in Weed World Magazine Issue 148