The subject of cannabis is a hot-button issue world-wide. It has come into the spotlight recently in Israel following the results of a survey showing that the use of cannabis among teens has risen over the past few years.
Dr. Yossi Harel-Fisch, who is the head of the International Research Program on Adolescent Well-Being and Health at Bar-Ilan University and chief scientist at the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, led the survey. A report written using the results of the survey, links a decreased perception of cannabis as danger to the rise in the drug's use among teenagers.
The spokesperson of the Green Leaf political party argues that these results in fact prove that the current battle against cannabis is a losing one and that new tactics are in order. First and foremost, he says, cannabis use should be decriminalized, since he argues that harsh punitive measures against youths who have been caught smoking a small amount of cannabis are far more damaging to the youths than the drug itself. He further maintains that legalization would help properly regulate and control the use of cannabis, resulting in more responsible use of the drug.
Dr. Harel-Fisch, however, notes that there is only a handful of states that have experimented or are currently experimenting with legalization. "This is very new and the accumulated evidence is still in its infancy in terms of us scientists being able to make sense about what this experience is causing," he tells The Jerusalem Post. He adds that some of these states have seen a massive growth in teen use of cannabis since its legalization, which he flags as a cause for concern. "We can not allow our children or adolescents to become guinea pigs," he stresses.