August 10, 2022

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Israel Elections: 10 reasons cannabis is most important issue – comment

5 min read

Israelis regularly use more cannabis per capita than anyone on earth. According to the US News & World Report, 27% of Israelis between the ages of 18 and 65 used marijuana in 2017. The numbers have certainly changed in four years, but they likely haven’t gone down.

With that in mind, here are 10 reasons for the country to legalize recreational marijuana.

1) Reduce crime. Based on the data and with some very rough calculations, nearly one and a half million Israelis routinely break our country’s drug laws. This is certainly one reason why consideration for state institutions is in the dumps. Legalization would allow nearly a quarter of the population who are now mockers to become law abiding citizens again and keep their heads high.

2) Increase Wealth. In 1977 a band by the improbable name of Moondog Okiextremist sang “Legalize Marijuana and Pay Off the National Debt”. Regardless of the macroeconomic references, these Oklahoma-based copywriters were spot on for the undisputed boon to the treasury wherever the substance would eventually become legal. Forbes magazine recently reported that the U.S. states of Washington and California each generated approximately $ 500 million in revenue from recreational marijuana taxes in 2020. There is no reason to believe that Israel’s tax revenues would not benefit in a similar way.

3) Charge the Start-Up Nation. Not only is Israel the cradle of innovation, it also has the potential to become the global hub of cannabis research and development. Israeli companies have already developed cannabis products that can be delivered without smoking via transdermal, nasal, rectal, sublingual and oral routes. Despite the nation’s well-deserved reputation as a startup powerhouse, Israeli cannabis innovators are forced to suspend perhaps the greatest business opportunity of a generation.

Big Pharma benefits from its global reach and multiple uses to break international barriers that are protected from the laws that apply in a particular country. Meanwhile, Israeli scientists and researchers are struck by their own country’s outdated laws against recreational marijuana use. Medicane Health, led by the repeatedly successful entrepreneur Ziv Aviram, works with 14 research institutions, including the Sheba Medical Center and Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

At the gates of science, the substance they work with is forbidden. Inside the gates, they reportedly used the same substance to do amazing things, including developing a drug to treat symptoms of dementia. Personally, the timing couldn’t be better.

4) Promotion of Agriculture. You’re tired of hearing it, but it needs to be repeated: From drip irrigation to cherry tomatoes, Israel is admired around the world for its agricultural acumen. The Volcani Research Institute in Rishon Lezion and the Agriculture, Food and Environment of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Rehovot are just two of the extraordinary facilities that could bring vital energy to the ultimately widespread agriculture of this remarkable plant.

5) Create a hasbara. Nothing says “obsolete” like cops (many of whom use the substance themselves) who enforce anti-marijuana laws. By all standards of the forward-looking State of Israel, this anachronism should have been corrected years ago, if not decades ago. I dream of showing a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement cannabis from Israeli cultivation and saying: “Boycott this!”

6) Calm the water. Marijuana is a unique drug in that there are hundreds of strains and breeds that highlight just as many effects. There are strains of weed that will confuse you, others that will increase your libido, and many that will relieve pain, just as there are strains that will relieve anxiety – without the many ill effects of benzodiazepines or antipsychotics. What could be a better recipe to calm the nerves of a COVID-tired population.

The words “stoned” or “high” only cloud the water. Just as there are stupid drunks and annoying coffee drinkers, there are plenty of pot smokers out there who can get on your nerves. But in my experience there are far more expansive, happier, and more loving cannabis users.

7) Keeping promises. In parts of the rural southern United States, it used to be common for sheriffs and police officers to lose their jobs if a newly elected mayor belonged to a different political party than the last. In a stable democracy, law enforcement should not depend on the party in power. Neither should promise.

Politicians have repeatedly promised that recreational cannabis legalization is just around the corner. The further that corner moves, the more likely it is that madmen will steal the subject for themselves. Candidates for the Knesset have been trying to do just that recently, and the best way to stop them is to get the issue firmly mainstream.

8) Say no to (other) drugs. In January, the British Medical Association’s peer-reviewed BMJ Medical Journal published a study polling 812 US counties in 23 states that were legal cannabis dispensaries by the end of 2017. The study found not only a decrease in alcohol consumption, but also in tobacco use and, above all, deaths from opioid overdose.

Other research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy in January 2020 examined the state’s tax revenues and found that cannabis policies were associated with significantly reduced per capita cigarette sales compared to states without medical cannabis policies. An increase from one to two cannabis dispensaries in a county was linked to a staggering 17% decrease in all opioid-related deaths. The number of pharmacies has a particularly strong negative association with deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. These studies aren’t slam dunk evidence of anything. I wish it were you. And as long as I wish, it would be nice if the blanket legalization of recreational marijuana had no disadvantage. One drawback, however, is clear: that of cannabis criminalization, and there are strong indicators that both medical marijuana and marijuana legalization is good for the health of the population.

9) Generate satisfaction. Have you read about the “Keep olim in Israel” movement? Here’s an idea that is guaranteed to help immigrants feel satisfied and bonded: Legalize recreational marijuana.

10) Nu? Is cannabis legalization really the most important problem we face today?

There are far more pressing issues: security, the potential loss of a habitable planet due to climate change and pollution, the ever-increasing risk of global nuclear annihilation, racism, violence against women, and crumbling infrastructure, to name a few. But do you really believe that with an election that will change?

That’s what I thought. So let’s legalize cannabis so that those who want can light up. And maybe we can all relax.

The author is a nurse with over 25 years of clinical experience. He currently works as an editor for The Jerusalem Post, correcting the mistakes of others when he doesn’t make his own.

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