January 5, 2017
Israel’s military will be relaxing its disciplinary actions against soldiers accused of consuming cannabis while they are on leave, a general in charge of the reform said Wednesday. Offending soldiers will no longer be systematically court-martialed nor receive prison sentences of up to two months, said reserve Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, the Israeli Defense Force’s former chief military advocate general, according to Times of Israel.
The reform would not apply to soldiers who consume cannabis while on duty. Under the changes, soldiers found to have consumed cannabis would need to agree to undergo regular testing to show they are abstaining from consumption.
“We are offering soldiers the chance to continue their service normally and not be imprisoned and hindered by a criminal record in civilian life,” Efroni said.
Efroni added that current investigations will continue despite the new relaxation on cannabis.
“We are talking about light drug offenses and one-time or a handful of uses in civilian circumstances,” he told Army Radio. “But the investigation will be carried out and if we have all the material and evidence to file an indictment we will do it.”
Medicinal cannabis is currently legal in Israel. According to Times of Israel, 128 soldiers faced charges for the use of narcotics last year. That number doesn’t specify the substance in question, however.
Israel isn’t alone in easing its stance on cannabis for soldiers and veterans. Several groups in the United States are looking into the potential benefits of using cannabis to treat the severe, life-altering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This past spring, the DEA allowed the first federally approved study on the effects of cannabis on veterans with PTSD. The research has been taking part at the University of Arizona College of Medicine by Dr. Sue Sisley.
One of the country’s largest veterans organizations, the American Legion, has also been advocating for the use of PTSD among American military veterans. The group met with members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team last month to discuss the need for Congress to reschedule cannabis for the benefit of the nation’s soldiers.
During the meeting with the Trump team, the Legion called on the incoming administration to prioritize the “support of research related to the impacts of medical marijuana and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s reclassification of cannabis from a Schedule I drug to Schedule III.”