Israeli police worry cannabis legalization will fire up illegal drug market

Israel’s unity government announced on June 9 it intends to move forward with legislation that would follow the approach of Colorado and Canada.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The Israeli police are balking at giving a formal position regarding the decriminalization of cannabis use. It refuses to issue a formal statement before its recommendations are placed before Minister of Public Security Amir Ohana.

Israel’s unity government announced on June 9 it intends to move forward with legislation that would follow the approach of Colorado and Canada. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use in 2014. Canada did so in 2018.

“The Likud and White Blue agreed to promote legislation that would regulate the issue of decriminalization and legalization in a responsible model that is suitable to the State of Israel and the Israeli population,” the parties said in a statement last Tuesday.

However, Israel’s police are worried that legalization will lead to a sharp spike in the illegal drug market for marijuana, Israel Hayom reports on Sunday. Their main fear is that criminal gangs will take advantage of legalization to enter the market with commercial quantities of cannabis. The result will be an increase in crime and greater danger on the roads from marijuana use.

America’s National Institute on Drug Abuse finds, “Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.”

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Israel already introduced marijuana reforms in 2019. It didn’t decriminalize use of the drug but changed the nature of enforcement, with users being fined rather than sent to jail.

The police have gathered data on the results of that reform. It may request changes based on those findings to the new set of proposed laws as Israel moves toward full legalization.

Marijuana legalization has become a political issue in recent years. In the first of the three last elections, one party made legalization its central issue.