Soldiers vote for legalization
Some 8,500 absentee ballots, most of which were cast by IDF soldiers, went to the Ale Yarok (Green Leaf) party, famous for its pro-legalization platform.
The party failed to cross the 2% election threshold, receiving only 1.15% of the popular vote with 43,725 votes. However, if the Knesset would be formed solely according to the absentee votes (known in Israel as double envelope votes), the party would have received four to five Knesset seats.
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The party's popularity among soldiers reached such levels that during Election Day complaints reached the IDF's election headquarters that the party's ballot notes had run out in several IDF polling stations and were nowhere to be found.
"It makes sense that the party is popular among young voters, as the vast majority of IDF soldiers are in their 20s," a young officer who voted for the party told Ynet.
"I smoke pot only on social occasions, at home during leaves from the army and never in uniform, but the time has come to legalize light drugs, so that they can be better regulated, thus reducing the crime surrounding them," he said.
"Today everyone knows that heavy booze drinking, which is legal, can be much more addictive and dangerous."
Noa, a soldier serving a para-combat role in an outpost in the territories, said many of her friends, among them Ale Yarok voters, smoke marijuana, sometimes even at the base.
"There are many ways not to get caught, and those who are clever usually succeed in covering up their tracks," she said.
"In our unit, there are those who didn't think twice about voting for the party, not just because of the drugs. The party's platform, which talks about excess freedom, liberalism and (personal) liberties bodes well with overworked combat soldiers who can't for their release."
One of the party platform's main tenets relates directly to the soldiers plight and talks about "shortening IDF service, releasing redundant soldiers and paying those who serve fairly."
Over the past year a sharp increase was registered in the number of drug related offences among soldiers.
A record number of cases in which dealers attempted to sell drugs within the army were recorded, and additional cases of pot smoking were registered in elite combat forces.
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