Last week, NBC’s Today Show giddily announced an exclusive: Privateer Holdings, the Seattle marijuana company long acclaimed locally for its straight, corporate image and Ivy-League-educated bosses, was launching “the first global pot brand” based on the legacy of Bob Marley. The company is likely to start selling pot overseas, says Privateer public-relations director Zack Hutson, previously a spokesperson for Starbucks. “We’re in discussions with a distributor in Israel” – a country with a federally legal medical-marijuana system. Hutson also cites Uruguay and the Netherlands as potential early markets.
An estimated 1,000 Israelis attended a rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night to support the legalization of marijuana. As the crowd chanted phrases like "The people demand legal marijuana," the speakers at the rally sought to frame pot smoking as part of Israel’s national culture, as a unifying factor among the country’s disparate groups and even as a security issue. Medical marijuana, which is hard for patients to receive permission to access, was central to the rally. (See also: Cabinet approves Health Ministry rules on medical marijuana)
A study by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies showed that if marijuana were legalized and taxed at a similar rate to cigarettes, it would yield about NIS 950 million (268 million USD) in taxes, while it could save the state the NIS 700 million (198 million USD) on enforcement every year. In a public opinion survey on marijuana legalization whose results are analyzed in the paper, only 26% of Israelis support legalization, while 64% opposes it. A large majority (75%) believe marijuana has legitimate medical uses.