Nissenkorn publishes draft cannabis legalization bill for public comments

Comments and criticisms of the draft can be sent in for the Justice Ministry's consideration until December 11 at midnight.

Employee tends to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Employee tends to medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn on Saturday evening published the first draft of the Israel Cannabis Market Regulation Law for public comments.
Comments and criticisms of the draft can be sent in here for the Justice Ministry's consideration until December 11 at midnight, after which a final version of the law will be drafted, to continue in discussions in the Knesset's Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Use and for a legislative process under the supervision of Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh.

Earlier this month, Nissenkorn stated that he expects that once the legal memo is approved (expected by December), it will take approximately nine months before the laws can begin to take effect.
According to the draft, growing or extracting cannabis without a license will be prohibited.
Cannabis use will be allowed only inside residences, at least in the first year after the law goes into effect.
The sale of cannabis will only be allowed to licensed dealers and will be sold only to those aged 21 and over. Soliciting or supplying cannabis to a minor will also be prohibited.
Driving under the influence of cannabis will be banned, though a permitted threshold has not yet been set, likely complicating the process greatly. In addition, problems reported with the accuracy of the THC testing kits have raised concerns about potential inconsistencies in punishment.
While the draft does not allow companies to advertise cannabis products or award prizes in exchange for its purchase, branding on the packaging of the cannabis products will be possible.
While many cannabis-related actions are still prohibited according to the draft, the penalties for the different actions vary greatly. 
Severe penalties of up to 20 years in prison will still apply to what the draft defines as "criminal offenses" - those who grow, produce or trade cannabis without an official license, those who hold more than the permitted amount (which is not specified in the draft) and those who sell, supply or solicit cannabis to those under the age of 21.
Milder penalties (fines) will apply to business owners or employees in the cannabis business who sell cannabis without applying for a certificate, who makes a cannabis advertisement, who markets non-packaged cannabis according to packaging procedures, who uses cannabis in a non-residential place and without a permit.
The draft bill is still devoid of some essential aspects such as: the amount which will be allowed for purchase and possession, the amount of tax which will be imposed on the market and the products, the conditions for opening a store and receiving a license, the maximum limit for driving under the influence of cannabis (if there is one at all), and who will be responsible for regulations.
The draft was written based on recommendations published two weeks ago by a special Justice Ministry committee, which met weekly for four months with different experts and lawmakers from around the world, to find out how to legalize, decriminalize and regulate the cannabis market safely and responsibly.