The State of Israel judges cannabis consumers, and then supplies them with more cannabis

The State of Israel judges cannabis consumers, and then supplies them with more cannabis
The State of Israel judges cannabis consumers, and then supplies them with more cannabis

Last month I flew to Eilat. It was the first time from the outbreak of the corona plague that I was at the airport, I saw a plane from the inside, I even flew for almost an hour in each direction. I flew to Eilat unfortunately not for vacation, but for work. The Israel Police, in its heroism because of greatness, caught a 72-year-old man, the salt of the earth, completely normative, while he, Rahmana Letzelen, was growing cannabis in the yard of his house. This is a sick person, with health problems from here to a new announcement, that while he has a permit to use medical cannabis, and the state even provides him with a very respectable amount of cannabis every month, he still chose to grow the plant himself for several reasons. First, because the price he is required to pay for medical cannabis is very expensive, and he as a retiree has difficulty meeting costs. Second, the quality of the material is not always good, the varieties vary, the supply is not constant. And thirdly, the very growth calms him, the preoccupation with growing, fertilizing, caring for, all this does him good. So what’s wrong with that?

It turns out that according to the State of Israel, this is bad, even very bad. Police in droves raided the amiable retiree, the heroic policemen who arrived thanks to accurate intelligence found the suspicious substance as a banned drug, laboratory experts invested resources to write a report stating that the suspected plant is indeed cannabis, a diligent police prosecutor prepared an indictment with lots of witnesses, effective clerk opened In a case court, a hearing was scheduled, and a judge, an intern, a typist, a prosecutor, a defense attorney and a defendant, plus a woman and some friends who came to strengthen him in his difficult moments, all stood proudly in the Magistrate’s Court in Eilat, to discuss this important case.

For 23 years I have been representing defendants in cannabis cases. I already know all the mantras of the country, how much cannabis is bad, forbidden, dangerous, negative, addictive, I know the (wrong) theories that start with cannabis and get into heroin, and that there are no easy drugs because all drugs are hard. I’ve heard it all before.

Visualistka, shutterstock

The point is, in a criminal proceeding, the purpose of the proceeding is not only to punish the convict, but also to convey to him some educational message. In drug cases the message should be how much drugs are bad, how much drugs are dangerous, how important it is to stay away from drugs. This is a great message to convey in juvenile court to a 17-year-old boy who smoked a joint. But is this a message that needs to be conveyed to a 72-year-old retiree, and another one that the state provides him with a few dozen grams of cannabis every month?

On the one hand, the justice system tells the defendant, “Well, well, well, stay away from drugs like cannabis. It’s bad.” On the other hand, the health care system tells the defendant, “Take cannabis, it will help your health.” In fact, as long as one hand of the State of Israel supplies a person with cannabis, it makes no sense for another hand of that state to punish him for growing cannabis. If he sells, markets, mediates, gives cannabis to those without a permit – you are right. It’s serious, it’s wrong. But if a person, to whom the state itself supplies cannabis, decides that he is not satisfied with what the state gives him, and chooses to grow his own medicine, there is no reason to bother the police and legal system. There is no point in incurring so many costs for persecuting a person who already holds a medical cannabis permit.

Such cases, by the way, I have quite a few, especially since the punishment reform, in which self-use cases of cannabis have become fine choice cases. There are those who were caught growing before they received the desired permit, there are those who grew even though they have a permit for economic and / or material quality considerations, or just as therapy. In all these cases no message is conveyed to the “offender” and there is no justification for conducting such proceedings.

As for the amiable pensioner from Eilat, we reached an agreement, the indictment was significantly amended, and we were satisfied with the charge of possession not for personal use (although everything was yes for personal use). He confessed to him, and was referred to the probation service so that even a probation officer would waste her and the defendant’s time, and I, the judge, his intern, the typist, the police prosecutor, the defendant, his wife and friends, all meet again in court in a few months.

At least I got another flight …

The author is one of the first to join the Green Leaf Party, a prominent activist for legalization, and probably the first lawyer in the country to openly fight for the right to consume cannabis.

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