Drugs in Tel Aviv .
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
A long-discussed bill aimed at restricting the sale of illegal synthetic drugs in kiosks by allowing police to seize and destroy substances, and the Health Ministry to prohibit their distribution – has been approved for its second and third (final) readings on Thursday.
The government legislation was approved on Wednesday by the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee.
The main problem with a so-called kiosk drug is that manufacturers keep changing its molecular structure just enough to call it by a new name, thereby requiring the government to test and identify the components before it can declare the new version illegal. The bill would allow authorities to outlaw different variations of what are basically the same synthetic drugs without going through the whole testing process.
Under the provisions of the bill, a substance will be considered dangerous if its use can trigger a health or security danger to the public owing to side effects that are similar to those of known dangerous drugs.
Police will have the authority to enter places (other than private homes) where they suspect such substances are present, carry out a search and remove the material. An officer will be allowed to destroy it unless a court issues an order against it.
The person possessing the substance will have a month to appeal to the court.
These parts of the proposed law would be approved for three years, after which they will be assessed.
Other provisions include empowering the Health Ministry’s director-general – after consultation with the Israel Anti-Drug Authority and national police commander – to declare immediately that the substance cannot be distributed.
Violators will be liable to three years in prison.
Every six months, the Health, Internal Security and Justice ministries will have to report to the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee on their use of the new powers.
Because the sale of illegal substances is more common in the summer, the committee’s acting chair, MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid), decided to speed up the law’s implementation to seven days instead of the usual three months following its publication in Reshumot, the state’s gazette of record.
Kol said the panel had approved “an extremely important law that creates a balance” between the need to protect the public and the need for protecting individual rights.
“I hope that we will finish the summer without the use of these terrible substances,” she said.