ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Yes, we cannabisYes, we cannabis

Voting troops say Green Leaf is dope

Soldiers’ votes indicate legalization of recreational drugs a primary concern among younger Israelis

IDF soldiers take part in early voting two days before the Knesset elections, March 15, 2015. (IDF Spokesperson)
IDF soldiers take part in early voting two days before the Knesset elections, March 15, 2015. (IDF Spokesperson)

If it were up to IDF soldiers to decide the composition of Israel’s parliament, the primary concern of at least four Knesset members would be fighting for the legalization of marijuana.

After tallying up votes primarily from Israel Defense Forces soldiers (but also from diplomatic personnel overseas, patients in hospitals and prisoners), it was made clear that a substantial amount of them would like to see recreational drugs legalized.

Though the liberal Green Leaf party fell well short of passing the 3.25-percent threshold required to make it into the Knesset, its pro-cannabis message hit home with the troops, who awarded them with 8,472 votes — or 3.64% of their tally — nearly three times more than the general election percentage.

In all, the party managed, 47,156 votes, or 1.12% of the electorate.

Established in 1992, the party’s platform is based on (and most well-known for) the legalization of the cannabis plant, but also calls for the expansion of human rights, free market economics and the institutionalization of prostitution and gambling.

To date, it has never been successful in gaining representation in the Knesset.

Police detain a protester during a rally for the legalization of Marijuana outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 20, 2014. (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)
Police detain a protester during a rally for the legalization of marijuana outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 20, 2014. (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)

Another reason for the party’s popularity among soldiers may be its promise that if elected, it would work to reduce the period of army service, which is mandatory for both men and women in Israel, and raise the currently below-minimum wages for troops to a “fair” salary.

These are not the first elections in which soldiers show their support for the party. In the 2013 elections, the list garnered nearly 8,500 of the army and other “double envelope” votes, which would have given them four to five seats if the general vote was disregarded.

In some army polling stations, popularity for the party was so high that ballots for the list kept running out.

Another party that did better with soldiers than it did with the Israeli public was leftist party Meretz, even gaining a seat because of the adjustment to the total tally after the double envelope votes were added in.

The party won 4.56% among soldiers, as opposed to 3.93% in the general population.

Incidentally, Meretz is also a strong supporter of the legalization of marijuana.

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