Knesset debates marijuana users driving

Currently, medical marijuana users are prohibited from driving while under the drug's influence.

February 10, 2016 00:22
1 minute read.
Tamar Zandberg

Tamar Zandberg. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Knesset Members debated on Tuesday whether to amend a law so as to permit those using cannabis for medical reasons to drive even while under the drug's influence.

Currently, a provision in the medical cannabis user's license regarding driving states: 'During the use of the dangerous drug it is strictly forbidden to undertake activities that require concentration, including driving or operating heavy mechanical equipment.'

At the Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse chaired by Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg who has publicly admitted to occasionally smoking marijuana. gave its backing to the opinion of the Health Ministry’s Medical Institute for Road Safety last month that medical marijuana use is similar to other types of prescription medication.

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Dr. Raz Dekel, who heads the Medical Institute for Road Safety, told the special committee on Tuesday that “having a medical prescription for cannabis should not automatically invalidate [a user’s] driver’s license.”

Still, he emphasized that he stood by the law which forbids driving under the influence of marijuana.

Dana Bar-On from the Israeli Cannabis Association said “the current situation is for all intents and purposes is like living in a jail cell, even if one isn’t arrested. This actual legal impairment causes a way of life where it’s impossible to leave the house.”

A Health Ministry representative said that although driving under the influence of marijuana is a criminal offense, they are looking for ways to find a “scientifically-based compromise” for those using cannabis for medical purposes.

“Setting a legal limit would be similar to what took place in the past regarding a legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol.”

In January, a Medical Marijuana lobby was launched at the Knesset and Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman has presented reforms that would allow general physicians to prescribe cannabis to patients.

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