‘Celebration’ drug added to list of banned substances

Knesset votes and bans on 'hagigat' drug

litzman 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
litzman 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The party’s over for users of hagigat, the “designer drug” based on the plant khat, which has been widely used by Yemenites and others who chew the leaves. “Hagigat” gets its name from the Hebrew word hagiga (celebration), and khat.
The Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee discussed the drug on Monday and decided – at the request of Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman – to add hagigat to the list of dangerous and illegal drugs.
The Agudat Yisrael MK asked that the definition of four dangerous chemicals be expanded to include derivatives of those chemicals as well. This was needed, he explained, because manufacturers and marketers of listed hard and illegal drugs make minor changes to them so they are not included in the banned products.
They do this because even though the derivatives are very similar to the illegal drugs, they are considered by the law to be different compounds and thus legal, the ministry said. Dozens of new synthetic drugs like hagigat appear every year that are based on illegal drugs but produced to circumvent the law.
The committee therefore recognized four “families” of drugs with all their possible derivatives as dangerous and therefore illegal. They are cathinones, methcathinones, amphetamines and methamphamines.
The new designations will make it easier for the anti-drug authorities to prevent their sale in Israel, the ministry said.
The step was made possible as a result of cooperation among the Justice, Health and Internal Security ministries.
“This is the first time that the law-enforcement authorities have taken the lead and closed the loopholes that led to the supply of hagigat in its various forms,” said committee chairman MK Haim Katz.
Udi Wolf, head of the analytical lab at the Israel Police’s criminal investigations department said that the change was “significant,” as the four “families” of dangerous drugs are very inclusive.
Until now, the laws against dangerous drugs listed specific chemicals individually, he explained.
“This created a catand- mouse game with the criminals who added substances that were not included in the definition of the individual drugs.
Now we are a significant step ahead of them.”