Israel Considers “Soft Drug” Decriminalizaton

By Tony O'Neill 06/16/11

Israeli politicians say current drug system is outdated and obsolete.

Thinking it through.
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When a country like Israel—which has, to put it charitably, something of a patchy record when it comes to human rights—begins to openly consider legalizing the use of soft drugs, then you know that something is afoot in the global struggle to end drug prohibition.
Several members of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) have called for the formation of a special committee to study the prospect of legalizing soft drugs in Israel, as drug use and drug dealing continues to be a growing problem for the country. This latest move follows a daring but doomed 2005 bill introduced to the Knesset by Roman Bronfman that sought to modernize Israel’s Dangerous Drug Order and radically change how Israeli drug users were treated in the eyes of the law. That bill’s first amendment fired an impressive opening volley: “No criminal procedures will be used against a person who possessed or used the Cannabis drug for self-consumption, and no criminal file will be opened against him." The bill went on to propose raising the amount of marijuana considered within the “self-use” threshold from 15 grams to 50.  

Israeli politicians have gone on record as saying that current mechanisms for dealing with the drug problem are “outdated” and “obsolete”.  Knesset members also contend that traditional prohibitionist policies have not only failed to reduce the level of drug taking, but have also led to an increase in organized crime.
This is all very interesting stuff for the people of Israel. Still, it does leave us at The Fix to wonder why a political body that leans as firmly to the right as the current Israel government can have this debate in an open and mature fashion, while our current President—who ran an election campaign geared to woo liberals and the center-left—is so cautious when it comes to discussing this issue.

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Tony O'Neill, a regular contributor to The Fix, is the author of several novels, including Digging the VeinDown and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. You can follow Tony on Twitter.