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Coalition pulls marijuana decriminalization bill at Ra’am’s request

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

The coalition withdraws a bill to decriminalize recreational marijuana after Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas asks its author, MK Sharan Haskel, to hold the vote for two weeks in order to allow his faction to study the implications of the law on the Arab sector.

Haskel’s bill would permit Israeli adults to possess up to 50 grams of marijuana and to grow up to 15 plants for personal use. Anyone possessing marijuana in excess of that amount could face a NIS 2,000 (over $600) fine. Marijuana consumption in public would continue to be barred, with violators subject to a fine of NIS 500.

The bill was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, giving it government backing. But Ra’am, which has broken with the coalition and played spoiler in previous legislative efforts, has said it opposes marijuana consumption on religious grounds.

The coalition holds a razor-thin majority in the Knesset, with limited ability to advance legislation without Ra’am’s support.

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