Israeli Government Breathes Sigh of Relief After Cannabis Vote

Dispute over approved use of marijuana had threatened to bring down diverse governing coalition

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Cannabis
Israel views cannabis as a major potential export crop.
Israel views cannabis as a major potential export crop. Photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90

Israel’s diverse and fragile unity coalition had agreed not to advanced any “controversial” bills or topics during its first year in order to hold together at least long enough to pass a state budget.

For the conservative Islamist faction Ra’am, one of those controversial topics was cannabis.

While most of the other parties in the coalition, from Right to Left, have been in favor of legalizing marijuana in Israel, Ra’am saw this as a red line. Earlier in the summer, the Islamists broke with the rest of the coalition by voting against a bill to fully decriminalize marijuana use by the general public. Thanks to Ra’am’s opposition, the bill failed.

The bill was resubmitted this week by members of the right-wing New Hope party, but this time sought approval only for regulated medical use of cannabis. And it passed, with Ra’am voting in favor.

Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas asked to address the Knesset to explain why the party had decided to now support the bill.

“This is a different law than it was a few months ago,” Abbas said in Arabic, seeking to reassure his conservative Muslim voters. “It’s just a medical law.”

Cannabis has been on the Israeli agenda for a number of years now, and not just for the recreational use, but as a potential major cash crop.

Israel Today has written on the topic a number of times. For more background, see:

 

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