Forward Thinking

Marijuana Goes Local in Israel

By Talia Lavin

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(JTA) — Taking a puff is going local in the Jewish state.

According to a Bloomberg report, Israel’s tightened border security — aimed at curbing the influx of African migrants, as well as securing the country against potential threats from Lebanon and Syria — has also had the effect of hampering the country’s supply of marijuana and hashish.

The result has been a surge in home-grown product, which some Israeli marijuana enthusiasts describe as more potent than the version smuggled in from neighboring Arab countries. According to David Wachtel, head of the Ale Yarok marijuana-legalization party (which memorably teamed up with Holocaust survivors in a Knesset campaign), this is good news.

After all, “Some hash coming in from Lebanon was just clay mixed with sap,” he told Bloomberg. While many countries have struggled with formulating an effective drug policy, Israel’s situation is complicated by the country’s unique geo-political position. Some of the marijuana enthusiasts Wainer interviews express relief that getting stoned no longer means supporting anti-Israel militant groups like Hezbollah (Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, a Hezbollah stronghold, is also home to the country’s thriving illicit-drug trade, including hashish cultivation).

Nevertheless, Israeli authorities still regularly raid domestic marijuana-growing operations.

Although medical marijuana is approved for use in Israel, just 26 percent of the population supports full legalization. Still, Israeli marijuana-lovers can breathe a sigh of relief (and, presumably, a lungful of potent smoke) knowing that more of their weed is being grown close to home.


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