Legalized cannabis would create more than $450 million in annual revenue for the Israeli government, a study this week by an Israeli financial research group shows. The figures are based on estimated black market sales of cannabis more than $707 million.
Toke of the Town/William Breathes.
The only problem is that legalization doesn't seem to have much support. Yet.
According to the Jewish Institute for Market Studies, which conducted the study, only 24 percent of Israelis think marijuana should be legalized and a whopping 64 percent oppose it. Interestingly, 75 percent of Israelis support medical cannabis laws. The study goes on to say that with a little education, support can rise to about 50 percent.
"Recognizing the enormous financial gains that would come from legalization demands that the government take a serious look at the proposal to legalize cannabis use under specific guidelines," co-author of the study Yarden Gazit, tells the Jewish Press. "There is no disputing that if the public is able to get past the wholly negative misperceptions associated with marijuana usage and appreciate the potential benefits with limited social or healthcare costs, this is an idea that needs open-minded and serious re-examination at this time."
The study says that legalizing cannabis would save the government about $200 million in enforcement costs each year. According to researchers, more than 70 percent of the 18,000 marijuana cases involve "personal amounts" and about 5.5 percent of all inmates in Israel are serving time for marijuana.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the biggest opposition tends to come from Orthodox communities, who say that legalization would lead to increased crime, use among kids and potentially turning Israel into a "drug tourism" destination.