Police raided a daycare center in Hod Hasharon that played host to an illegal cannabis growing operation on Monday, arresting its 54-year-old operator on drug charges.
Officers at the scene discovered seedlings in the center’s courtyard that were estimated to add up to 1.5 kilograms of pot, as well as a bag containing what police described as a “cannabis-type drug” in a locker.
The daycare took care of children between three months and a year in age. The unidentified owner was released to house arrest after being interrogated by police and remains under investigation.
Marijuana possession was partially decriminalized in April when a plan two years in the making went into into effect, replacing criminal prosecution for personal marijuana use in public with fines and a less stringent enforcement regime. It is based on the so-called Portugal Model, which treats marijuana use as a public health issue akin to cigarette smoking rather than a criminal problem. Under the new guidelines, possession of small amounts of marijuana in private homes will no longer be treated as an offense, criminal or otherwise.
Daycare safety has become a major issue in Israel in recent months, after a series of incidents in which caretakers abused and even killed children in their care.
In June, thousands of people took to the streets in protests calling for state oversight of daycare centers. Parents and others chanted “The country demands justice for the children” and other slogans at some 25 spots around Israel, including Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv, where some protesters blocked roads in anger.