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Israeli Parliament Approves First Reading of Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis

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The country of Israel recently took a major step toward legalizing cannabis. On March 7, a bill decriminalizing cannabis consumption passed unanimously in its first reading in the Knesset, Israeli’s parliament.

Under the proposal written by the Ministry of Public Security, those who are caught with cannabis will be fined rather than jailed. The fine for first time offenders will be 1,000 shekels. If a second offense occurs, the fine will double, and if a third time occurs, offenders will face a probational period. There is no mention yet regarding the amount of cannabis that would be subject to fines. However, the Anti-Drug Authority has recommended fines for possession of more than 15 grams.

Israel has become a leader in medical cannabis internationally, and the country also has one of the highest per capita consumers of medical cannabis, with about 25,000 licensed patients out of the country’s eight million inhabitants. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that nine percent of the country consumes cannabis. Israel has also been a pioneer in medical cannabis, including research on cannabis and asthma, “The law is far from perfect, but it’s a foot in the door on the way to full legalization,” said Tamar Zandberg, parliament member for the green Meretz party. “There is a lot of work ahead.”

“This is a pragmatic and evidence-based move by the Israeli parliament,” said Niamh Eastwood, executive director of Release, a nonprofit that campaigns on drug issues and laws. “Across the world 26 countries have ended criminal sanctions for either possession of all drugs or for cannabis, none experienced an increase in use as a result of the reforms. “More importantly, many jurisdictions including Portugal and several states in Australia reported better health, social and economic outcomes, as well as a reduction in reoffending.”

Israel has suspended cannabis export, an estimated one billion market, to mollify the US’s President Donald Trump as well as the Public Security Ministry which has concerns over “spillover” into the recreational market.

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Europe Cannabis Testing Market Expected to Reach $770 Million By 2027

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The European cannabis testing market is expected to grow to a little over $770 million USD from $431.58 million in 2019. The market is expected to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.7 percent from 2020 to 2027.

A new report, “Europe Cannabis Testing Market to 2025 – Regional Analysis and Forecasts by Type ; Services ; End User and Country,” outlined the growth of the industry to 2025. The growth of the market can be attributed to the European government funding cannabis research for doctors as well as the increasing demand for researching cannabis quality. The report mentions non-medical uses of cannabis and problems with CBD oil products are likely to have a negative impact on the growing market.

The European cannabis testing market is split into three segments: testing laboratories, drug manufacturers and research institutes. In 2019, the testing laboratories held the largest share of the market and is expected to continue growing due to testing performed in the reference labs for various diseases.

In February 2019, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) passed a joint resolution supporting medical cannabis. The resolution allows doctors to use their best judgment in prescribing cannabis-based medicines, and calls on MEPs to address barriers that prevent cannabis research. The aim is to clearly distinguish between what is considered medical-use cannabis and what is considered non-medical.

Currently, there are no countries in the European Union that allow smoking cannabis or home-growing for medical purposes. The World Health Organization has previously recommended that CBD should not be classified as a controlled substance. The European Union has already approved a CBD-based medicine that helps treat severe seizures.

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Retired Jamaican Sprinter Opens Medical Cannabis Dispensary

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Former Olympic sprinter Michael Frater has opened his own medical cannabis dispensary. Frater said a personal injury led him to opening 4/20 Sports Therapeutic Bliss in Kingston, Jamaica.

Frater represented Jamaica for over a decade and was a part of the 2012 London Olympics team that set the world record in the 4 x 100 meter relay. However, knee problems over the past five years have caused him to retire. Frater said he tried cannabis oil to treat his bad knee and felt the difference within a month.

“I started studying a lot about it and realized that a drug that has been taboo for most of my life is really a miracle drug. It’s really a drug that once taken properly with the proper prescription, the medicinal purposes are exponential,” Frater said.

A previous study found a link between cannabis athletes using cannabis as a means of recovery or treat pain. The study found a combination of THC and CBD was the most beneficial in providing well-being and calming factors in athletes, as opposed to just CBD on its own.

Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, Olivia Grange, attended the opening ceremony and helped cut the ribbon. Also in attendance were Jamaica Olympic Association President Christopher Samuda and former teammate Asafa Powell. Grange also urged other Jamaican athletes to get involved with business in Jamaica.

“What is important about what you are doing is that you are not just an athlete who at the end of your active career, sit down, fold your arms and wait for something to happen, you have set an excellent example for others to follow,” Grange said. “I always knew that you were special. There was a group of you during your era of active running that I considered special athletes.”

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Nebraska Senator Introduces Medical Cannabis Bill

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The Nebraska Senate recently introduced a new bill that would legalize medical cannabis in the state.

Introduced by Senator Anna Wishart on January 15, the bill (LB474) would pick up where a previous November 2020 ballot initiative failed. Wishart herself worked on an attempt to collect signatures for ballot consideration. They collected 190,000 signatures and only needed 120,00 but the initiative was still rejected by the Supreme Court for a technicality. The court claimed it violates single-subject rules.

“The ballot initiative was not about medical marijuana, because it was not going to be prescribed by a doctor. It was not going to be distributed through a pharmacy,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts when the bill failed. “It wasn’t a real medical thing.”

Wishart hopes that her newest bill will help residents gain access to cannabis. “[Friday] I introduced another bill, LB474, to legalize medical cannabis,” said Wishart. “I do this to honor the Nebraskans I have met along this long and winding journey. They deserve representatives who will show up and go the distance for positive change that improves the lives of families in our state no matter how many challenges are met along the way.”

Parents such as Crista Eggers are frustrated that the ballot measure was not considered back in November, as she was hoping for medicine to treat Colton, her six-year-old son. Colton has intractable epilepsy and so far hasn’t found any medicine that helps treat his condition. Under the current law, he can’t try cannabis-based medicine. “So many people were counting on that, people that didn’t have time to wait,” Eggers said.

She also expresses that, as excited as she is, she is also wary of getting too excited. “It’s exciting and we’re hopeful,” she continued. “I think more hopeful than we’ve ever been, but it also comes with that feeling of, ‘Why are we here again?’ We should be doing, as a state, everything we can to help those who are in need. This fight isn’t just for Colton. Our first has become for all those individuals who so desperately need an option.”

“On the journey to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska, I have met so many brave people that inspire me,” said Wishart about her strong desire to legalize. “Veterans who have lost limbs in war serving our country, cancer survivors who have beaten all odds, people with debilitating pain who refuse to give up, and kids like Colton who suffer from seizures at such a young age and still show up to their life with a smile. All of these Nebraskans deserve the right to access a plant-based medicine that has evolved with humans for over 10,000+ years. None of them should be treated like criminals in our state.”

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