A few months ago I wrote a post called Israel: Cannabis Powerhouse. This post pointed out that Israel has been at the forefront of cannabis for decades. Namely, it was one of the pioneers of cannabis research, an early adopters of medical cannabis and one of the few countries that has dealt with imports and exports of medical cannabis (for example, Israel recently exported medical cannabis to Australia). Still, Israel still lags behind countries like Canada that have legalized recreational cannabis. But that’s changing.
As I noted in the post above, back in the summer, there was a preliminary vote in the Israeli Knesset (i.e. parliament) to work towards a national recreational cannabis market. At the time, this was a huge step towards a legal leisure market. But ultimately, the ball didn’t get that far until recently.
In November 2020, Israel announced that it would press ahead with a national legalization plan for recreational cannabis. The country is aiming to legalize recreational activities within nine months, and even if there are delays, that means there is still a lot to do in mid-to-late 2021. More hearings will take place this month.
Israel is reportedly modeling its recreational cannabis law after Canadian federal law and will allow sales to anyone over the age of 21, but unlike Canada and many U.S. states, it will not allow home growth (for now, at least). The legislation would also reportedly reform existing medical cannabis laws and decriminalize possession of large quantities of cannabis.
A legal leisure market in Israel will be of paramount importance. Only a very small handful of other countries have legalized cannabis at the federal level, and other countries like Germany actively oppose the legalization of recreational activities. Given that Israel has already accepted imports and exports of medicinal cannabis, it means that it will be light years ahead of countries like the United States, which are still struggling to achieve federal legalization.
Israel’s recreational cannabis laws still have a lot to do. For more information, see the law Law Blog.