Tel Aviv’s residents were greeted with an unusual surprise on Tuesday morning when they discovered that dozens of makeshift signs with the words "Designated Cannabis zones" had been hung in public areas across the city.
The initiator of the subversive project, street artist "Schroeder," explained in a conversation with Ynet: "The goal is to stimulate discourse and perhaps even wake people up."
The protest signs, which define designated smoking areas for cannabis, were hung outside public areas and quickly became an attraction for passersby, many of whom rushed to have their picture taken with them before being removed by city inspectors.
"I was debating whether to take out a joint and smoke here on the bench in the garden," said Uri, passing by one of the signs on the way to work. "On the other hand, it could be a trap set by undercover cops. Right now, it's better to smoke quietly without arousing too much attention," he added.
Schroeder explained that he had decided to help the cannabis smokers as part of what he described as their just struggle: "Cannabis is a plant that has been marked for many years as the public enemy, under the auspices of pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists, and of course members of the Knesset and the ministers," he said.
"A few months ago, Minister Gilad Erdan used us for some public relations, and apparently began a process of decriminalization, but immediately after reaping the media benefits, everything just dispersed into nothing. The struggle for legalization is important because it represents something beyond the drag. They think that the public is dumb and that if they flaunt the decriminalization, all the pot heads will get off their backs, much like in the social protest of 2011."
While hanging the signs, Schroeder said, he received much support from passersby. "There was a lot of support and even a few invitations to join a random drag. I hung up 40 signs in the center of Tel Aviv, and the plan was to hang more signs in the city and in other cities. Perhaps that might still happen."
In the past week, legalization activists have intensified their struggle to be able to smoke cannabis without breaking the law. On Wednesday, an Italian member of parliament was invited to meet with the editor of the Cannabis magazine, Oren Leibowitz, who heads the Green Leaf party. The two planted a seed of cannabis next to the promenade in Tel Aviv.
On Friday, a number of activists came to protest outside the home of Minister Erdan against the "continued incrimination of cannabis consumers," calling for the regulation of its use within the framework of the law.
(Translated and edited by N. Elias)