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'Cannabis is the most common prohibited drug in the world.' Jeremy Feldman
'Cannabis is the most common prohibited drug in the world.' Jeremy Feldman

Soft drugs to be legalized?

MK submits bill to Knesset proposing not to consider use of small quantity of cannabis as criminal offense

Ilan Marciano
Published: 11.20.05, 09:37 / Israel News

A short while before going to elections, MK Roman Bronfman (Meretz-Yahad) submitted a bill to the Knesset proposing not to incriminate soft drug users.


According to the bill, which seeks to dramatically change Israel's drug policy, from now on any use or possession of the cannabis drug at a quantity smaller than 50 grams (about 1.8 ounces) would not be considered as a criminal offense.

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Through the bill, Bronfman seeks to amend the Dangerous Drugs Order. According to the first amendment, "no criminal procedures will be used against a person who possessed or used the Cannabis drug for self-consumption, and no criminal file will be opened against him."


According to the second paragraph of the amendment, the quantity considered as a self-use quantity will be increased from 15 (0.5 ounces) to 50 grams.


MK Bronfman explained in the bill that "Cannabis is the most common prohibited drug in the world and in Israel. Compared to the two legal drugs (alcohol and tobacco), this drug causes relatively small damage both to society and individuals.


“The extent of addiction to this drug is similar to coffee addiction and is considerably lower than addiction to alcohol of cigarettes (two legal drugs which kill more than all other prohibited drugs together),” he added.


'Root of the problem – drug dealing'


Bronfman continued: "Countries such as Canada, England, Belgium, Holland and others have amended or are in the process of amending their drug policies, so that personal use of cannabis does not lead to any kind of criminal sanctions.


"Therefore, I propose to cancel the cannabis use offense. Israel Police will be able to divert all the resources allocated to the fight against use of cannabis to fight offenses which cause much more social damage," he added.


Bronfman claimed that his bill was based on research, saying that "Israel's total ban policy has failed; the number of drug users rises every year; the Anti-Drug Authority is losing the public's trust by conveying a wrong and false message that there is no difference between soft and hard drugs.


"I suggest focusing on comprehensively and reliably explaining the damages of all kinds of drugs, but simultaneously not harassing a normative population that occasionally smokes marijuana, and focusing (from the resource aspect) on the root of the problem – drug dealing and more efficient treatment of hard drug users," he said.


However, starting this week, MKs will not be able to submit private bills for Knesset voting – for fear that they will turn their bills into populist "statements" in light of the coming elections. Thus, MK Bronfman will be able to continue the legislation of free grass only if he is elected to the next Knesset term.


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