Legal status of marijuana in israel

Legal status of marijuana in israel
Steven Voser

Israel is home to the world's first cannabis medical program. But is recreational cannabis legal in Israel? 

Israel is clearly moving down the path to recreational cannabis freedom, and now pretty much has medical usage in the bag. So, have a yen to travel to a very holy part of the world? Want to meet the “Father of THC?”

Whatever your reasons for visiting Israel, you have also just landed in the land of cannabinoids. The man behind the modern medical movement hails from here. The earliest medical cannabis program in the world got off the ground here.

That said, you won’t find any canna café’s in Tel Aviv (yet).


Israel has the distinction of essentially creating the entire medical movement in the first place. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli researcher, discovered THC. He topped that with discovering the endocannabinoid system. The “medical program” in other words, has been around here for a long time.

Around the turn of the century, things began to move forward again. By 2008, the Israeli government began medical trials with soldiers. By 2014, however, things began to move again. 15 Israeli families with sick children threatened to immigrate to Colorado if the medical law was not changed.

Fast forward three years and things are continuing to develop in a positive way. Plans are now underway for widespread distribution through national drug stores. American companies, in particular, are also flocking to the country. Their goal? To partner with ground-breaking canna pharma companies and researchers.


The medical program here is responsible for pushing all other kinds of reform. Until early 2017, however, marijuana was still technically illegal for personal use. That has now changed. Now smoking in public can earn you a small fine. If you continue to get caught, you will end up in counselling.

However that is only the start of it. Like anywhere else, the Israelis know a valuable cash crop when they see one. Other developments globally affect the market here domestically.

For the first time this year, the Israeli government also began talking about exporting the actual plant. This is opposed to exporting the high tech grow techniques and seeds developed in country. This has already been heralded as the first step in full and final reform.

Canna reform in the Start-up Nation has already excited the country’s entrepreneurs. Israelis know an exploding new market when they see one. Within the next five years to a decade, every major start-up incubator in the country will have at least one serious canna-start-up in it.

Israel is moving down the path of treating cannabis consumption as a public health issue – not a crime. For that reason, as of this year, this is what you are looking at if you get caught with weed.

The first offense will cost you. 1,000 shekels (about 250 euros). The second time that fine will be double. You will also be headed for counselling. If you get caught a fourth time, you will probably see a few days in jail. That said, authorities are doing everything they can to prevent this from happening. In other words, if you get to the clink for smoking weed in public here, it is only because you seriously aimed for it.

Marijuana is well on its way to becoming fully legal if not kosher. Stay tuned. Things are moving fast. Israel is now in a race with Canada to get cannabis into mainstream drug stores. Look for high-end, knock-your-socks off products coming soon. That drives legalization better than any other logical argument.


At this point, for the most part, legalization is a pretty sure thing. There is a huge industry here on the medical side. The start-up ecosystem is starting to circle around it. Short of going to work for the government, however, or a kibbutz-based start-up, there are a few other non-profits who are trying to expand global connections and grow the industry.

Check out I-Cann for starters. They are starting to throw conferences throughout Europe. These are always great places to meet people and get the skinny on who is who.

Steven Voser
Steven Voser

Steven is a long-time veteran of cannabis journalism, having delved into every aspect of the subject. His particular interests lie in cannabis culture, the emerging science of cannabis, and how it is shaping the legal landscape across the globe.