First cannabis-friendly cafe opens in Israel

Since legalizing medical use of marijuana in the early 1990s, Israel has had the most lenient cannabis laws in the Middle East.

By LEON SVERDLOV
September 22, 2019 01:29
1 minute read.
A worker touches a cannabis plant at a growing facility for the Tikun Olam company near the northern

A worker touches a cannabis plant at a growing facility for the Tikun Olam company near the northern city of Safed. (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)

Israel's first "coffeeshop" that allows medical marijuana users to smoke inside opened last week in the southern city of Beersheba, Mako reported on Thursday.

The shop opened in Beersheba on Thursday, making Israel the first Middle Eastern state with a specialized cannabis-consumption establishment.
Since legalizing medical use of marijuana in the early 1990s, Israel has had the most lenient cannabis laws in the Middle East. In 2018, a bill decriminalizing the personal use of cannabis was passed in the Knesset by a 41-1 majority.


As Israeli law only allows personal and medical use of cannabis on private property, the cafe, founded by Legalization Now, has a designated area in which licensed medical marijuana users are able to consume the drug. According to Mako, the shop will not sell cannabis products, but it will provide smoking devices.


The founders of the shop told Mako that they are "trying to fight for designated areas that would be accessible for [medical] marijuana users, hoping that it will get to every café." According to Amit Moreno, one of the shop's founders, the group "will hold educational events to [show the public] that cannabis is a medicine."

"It is healthy and people shouldn't look upon it the way they do," Moreno told Mako, adding that "everything [we do] is legal."

"It is a public project," he said. "We have no budget and we are asking anyone who can help us extend this venture. We believe it is the path to [full] legalization."
 
Oren Oppenheim contributed to this report.


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