Marijuana smoke in the air among Israeli political parties - analysis

Israel politicians suddenly discover marijuana as a campaign issue.

March 13, 2019 02:30
2 minute read.
marijuana israel tel aviv

A woman smokes during an event marking Israel's government's approval of a new policy to decriminalize personal marijuana use in Tel Aviv, Israel February 4, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)


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The distinctive aroma of marijuana smoke is in the air in Israel, both literally and figuratively.

It’s impossible to walk past a block in Tel Aviv without getting a contact high, and now it seems like it’s impossible to run for the Knesset without establishing your weed credentials.
It might have something to do with the groundswell of support that Zehut and its gonzo leader Moshe Feiglin are receiving from hipsters mesmerized by their anti-establishment stance that includes legal marijuana  and less government intervention. Most of his new-found fans probably don’t get as far as vetting his Temple Mount policies and other far-Right stances, they just love that he’s sticking it to the man. A cartoon in one Hebrew paper depicted a Pied Piper-like Feiglin, holding a lit joint, leading a line of disciples more or less in line.

Last week, Feiglin tweeted that “people stopped asking [him] about the threshold and started asking from what age will pot be sold in stores.”

Other politicians have taken note, and everyone seems to be tripping over their stoner feet to mention pot as more and more parties realize that the “need for weed” might secure a few more Knesset seats.

Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who one can honestly believe any claim that he has never inhaled, said on Monday night that “it is possible that legalization of marijuana would happen.”
Netanyahu comments on cannabis legalization, March 12, 2019 (Likud TV)

On his recently launched LikudTV, Netanyahu said, “I am now looking into the matter [of legalization]... It’s possible that it will happen.”

Not to be left out of the smoking circle, Labor leader Avi Gabbay confessed to smoking pot in the past in an Army Radio interview Tuesday and added that it was time to “get out and join real life,” referring to recreational use of the herb which has been legalized in much of the Western world.

Not everyone has jumped on the cannabis bandwagon. Leader of the Magen Party, Gal Hirsch, claimed that, “the debate on cannabis has become populist and requires the use of judgment.”

Whether or not that judgment by candidates will be impaired by the lure of vaping votes remains to be seen. We may not see MKs rolling a big one during the next session of the Knesset, but one outcome of Feiglin’s burgeoning success and of the natural proclivity of many Israelis is that recreational marijuana use is finally out of the dark closet where it has been being cultivated.

Jerusalem Post Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

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