TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday vowed to erase the criminal records of tens of thousands of Israelis caught in possession or using cannabis.

“I have explored the matter and decided to expunge criminal records of tens of thousands of Israelis for personal use and cannabis possession, something that causes unnecessary suffering to many and is a burden on the courts,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.

“[Justice] Minister [Amir] Ohana has begun work on the matter and will lead a committee comprised of [medical and legal] professionals… to look into importing the Canadian model that will regulate a legal [cannabis] market in Israel,” the prime minister added.

Marijuana used for either medical and recreational purposes is legal in Canada.

Blue and White chairman MK Benny Gantz and his number 2 MK Yair Lapid dismissed the move as an empty campaign promise.

“What you didn’t do over 10 years [as prime minister] you won’t do in another 10 years,” Gantz wrote on Twitter. “[For] years, you sold illusions to the sick who require medical cannabis and to our youth in an bid to garner votes.”

Lapid wrote that he was in favor of legalization, but added that Netanyahu would not do now what he didn’t do for 14 years.

Israel is making steps to become a major cannabis exporter and in recent years the cannatech field in the Jewish state has boomed. While its recreational use remains illegal, in 2017 it was decriminalized  for first time offenders.

 

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