|Photo by: Toussaint Kluiters / Reuters|
MKs, primary candidates split on pot legalization
By LAHAV HARKOV AND REUTERS
After two US states legalize marijuana for recreational use, some Israeli politicians advocate permitting its use.
Some politicians were ready to pass a joint around on Wednesday to celebrate
recreational use of marijuana being legalized in Colorado and Washington – but
most who expressed opinions on the issue advocated medical use
Colorado and Washington became the first US states to legalize the
possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use on Tuesday in defiance of
federal law, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Obama
But another ballot measure to remove criminal penalties
for personal possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis was defeated in
Oregon, where significantly less money and campaign organization was devoted to
MK Einat Wilf (Independence) headed to Denver on Wednesday to
give a lecture, and said she looked forward to hearing the Jewish community’s
take on legalization.
“I hope the decision will clarify to more and more
people in Israeli politics that this was a pragmatic call that protects freedom
of the individual and that turning [pot-smokers] into criminals is not the right
way to go,” Wilf, a vocal proponent of legalization in Israel,
Several other politicians have voiced their opinions on
legalization in recent weeks, citing growing interest from voters.
light of questions on the topic, here is my stance on cannabis,” Government
Services Minister Michael Eitan wrote on his Facebook profile.
actively supported growing and using cannabis for medical needs. As for full
legalization, my stance was against it and has not changed.”
when asked last month in a televised interview by journalist Gal Uchovsky
whether he has ever smoked a joint, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar laughed and
asked to move on to the next question.
Labor primary candidate and
journalist Miki Rosenthal took to Facebook to accuse pro-legalization groups of
According to Rosenthal, reform is needed in medical
marijuana policies, because it is difficult for those who need cannabis to
obtain it. However, he did not touch on recreational use.
campaign on primary candidates’ walls when it comes to cannabis is
If there are party members that condition their vote with a
cannabis gun to my head, I don’t need their vote. I won’t be elected because of
threats,” he wrote.
Rosenthal’s comments came a week after the editors of
the website Cannabis.org.il stood outside a Labor Central Committee meeting with
a video camera and asked various primary candidates their opinion on
legalization. Two, Emanuel Shahaf and Michal Biran, said they support
decriminalization, while most of the others the website editors approached said
they needed to research the issue.
Also on the Left, Meretz MKs Nitzan
Horowitz and Ilan Gilon have spoken out in favor of legalization.
surprising move, Manhigut Yehudit leader Moshe Feiglin published an op-ed in
September titled, “God owns the cannabis patent,” in which he advocated
legalization of marijuana use.
“I believe that being a Jew means being
free,” he wrote.
“This is why I support reducing legislation in general,
granting broader autonomy to the average citizen… and this is why I support the
legalization of medical cannabis and light drugs.”
On Tuesday, supporters
of a Colorado constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana were the first to
declare victory, and opponents conceded defeat, after returns showed the measure
garnering nearly 53 percent of the vote versus 47% against.
Policy Alliance, a national advocacy group that backed the initiatives, said the
outcome in Washington and Colorado reflected growing national support for
liberalized pot laws, citing a Gallup poll last year that found that 50% of
Americans favored making it legal, versus 46% opposed.
Washington state’s pot legalization initiative declared victory after The
Seattle Times and other media projected a win for marijuana
Early returns showed prolegalization votes led with 55% to
44% opposed with about 60% of ballots tallied in the state’s all-mail-in
The outcomes in Colorado and Washington, which already
have laws on the books legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, put both
states in further conflict with the federal government, which classifies
cannabis as an illegal narcotic.
The US Department of Justice reacted to
the measure’s passage in Colorado by saying its enforcement policies remain
unchanged, adding: “We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no
additional comment at this time.”
Separately, medical marijuana measures
were on the ballot in three other states, including Massachusetts, where CNN
reported that voters approved an initiative to allow cannabis for medicinal
Supporters there issued a statement declaring victory for what
they described as “the safest medical marijuana law in the
Seventeen other states, plus the District of Columbia, already
have medical marijuana laws on their books.
A measure that would have
made Arkansas the first state in the South to legalize marijuana for medical
purposes appeared headed for defeat by 51% to 49% with about 80% of the vote