Knesset passes Cannabis Law in 1st reading after Ra'am changes vote

MK Mansour Abbas changes Ra'am party's vote to support MK Haskel's Cannabis Law after it was changed to apply to medical cannabis only.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Knesset vote
Knesset vote
Noam Moskowitz/Knesset spokesperson

MK Sharren Haskel's Cannabis Law was approved in its first reading in the Knesset Wednesday after the United Arab List (Ra'am) decided to vote in favor of the bill. It has yet to pass its second and third reading to become law.

MK Amichai Chikli from the Yamina party also voted in favor of the bill.

Ra'am had opposed the bill in recent weeks for fear it could lead to the spread of drug use in Arab communities. The Joint Arab List voted against the bill.

Ra'am Chairman MK Mansour Abbas explained in Arabic in the Knesset plenum why he had previously opposed the wording of the law which dealt with decriminalization of cannabis consumption: "We decided to give an opportunity in a preliminary reading of the cannabis law. If the law is not changed to deal only with medical matters - we will vote against it." MKs applauded Abbas when he voted for the law.

MK Haskel's bill regulates the field of medical cannabis. Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz has stated that his ministry would develop new regulations which will make further legislation on the matter unnecessary.

The bill passed by a majority of 54 to 42 MKs. Many members of the opposition were absent from the debate - including Likud members - and MK David Bitan criticized the absent members of his party: "Anyone who is not here - will pay for it."

A Likud MK told Arutz Sheva: "Netanyahu is not coming to the votes and is underestimating us. He thinks we are his puppies and will sit in the Knesset votes while he spends time outside. If Bibi does not come to the votes, why should we come?"