The Ministry of Health plans to legalize the use of the cannabinoid CBD

The Department of Health announced on Tuesday that it had set up a committee to examine the implications of excluding substances or products containing CBD from the list of dangerous drugs.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound in cannabis that is widely believed to lack psychotropic properties.

The ministry said it would examine the possibility of removing CBD from the list, which means it would be possible to market products containing the compound in Israel, with an emphasis on oral and topical consumption.

The committee will review relevant legislation and policies around the world, as well as ways to monitor the quality, quantity and concentration of material in products, as well as safety.

The committee will further examine the potential benefits of products containing CBD, as well as the testing and oversight processes.

Separately, the Knesset Okay overnight to form a so-called cannabis committee.

New Hope MP Sharren Haskel had pushed for the formation of the committee. “I welcome the establishment of the committee and promise to do all I can to bring good news to cannabis patients and the public,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

New Hope MP Sharren Haskel (center) seen during a vote on a law proposing reforms to regulate medical marijuana, held in the Knesset, Jerusalem, on October 13, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

The committee will discuss medical marijuana, legalization and other cannabis-related issues.

Recreational use of the drug is currently illegal, although the Department of Public Security partially decriminalized it in 2017, setting fines and treatment for initial offenders instead of criminal proceedings.

In June, Haskel’s bill to decriminalize recreational marijuana use failed to secure a vote in the Knesset plenum due to opposition from lawmakers in the Islamist Ra’am party of the coalition. Haskel hoped his proposal would pass in an early vote, as many opposition MPs were not present at the time. But opposition MPs quickly returned to the plenum to vote against the law, overturning it 55-52.

A previous vote on the bill had been delayed due to opposition from Ra’am, after leader Mansour Abbas told Haskel the party needed more time to consider how to legalize the use recreational marijuana would be received among its supporters in the Arab community.

After the fall of Haskel’s original bill, a new version of legislation was drafted that would create major reforms in the medical cannabis industry in Israel and expand its ease of access, without decriminalizing recreational use.

The bill went through preliminary reading in the Knesset in October, with support from Ra’am. Under the bill, people licensed by the Ministry of Health will be legally allowed to cultivate, distribute and possess cannabis for medical purposes. The new legislation aims to overcome a chronic shortage of medical cannabis available to people on prescription, due to strict regulations imposed on producers.

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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