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Israeli Town of Tira Founds First Medical Cannabis Cafe

Smokey Monkey, located in Tira has just defied all the odds. The first Israeli medical cannabis café has opened. You can legally purchase medical cannabis here.

Kama Shbeeta (a former psychiatric nurse) is on a mission change stigma around cannabis use. The cafe was established by Kama Shbeeta to be an alternative to the illegal black market and help people who suffer from chronic pain to enjoy the benefits of cannabis.

Shbeeta was initially threatened with death or arson by people who wanted his place to be demolished. Slowly, however, neighbors started to see the value in what Shbeeta was doing. The new medical cannabis licenses allow people to experiment with various types of marijuana in a secure environment. This establishment has already been marketed as being a healing place for Israelis and Palestinians.

You can smoke the Cannabis Peace Pipe

News enough is the opening of a marijuana cafe in Israel. It is however important to note the precise location.

Smokey Monkey can be found in Tira. This name means “The Fort” in both Arabic and Hebrew. It is part of a cluster of Arabic villages near the so-called “Green Line.” This refers to the green ink used to draw the line demarcating the first borders of Israel on the map while the Armistice talks created the country after WWII. This border was in place until 1967’s Six-Day-War. After 1967, Israel subsumed the territory beyond it. These territories are now known as East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It includes the area’s farmland, which is considered one of Israel’s most fertile. Tira saw 2/3rds its arable land taken by Israel by 1976. This area is well-known for high levels of crime and youth unemployment.

On the cafe’s Facebook page, however, it is clear that so far, Arabs and Jews have come together to treat their illnesses with cannabis in a vastly different way. 

What Israel Thinks About Legalization Discussion

Israel is an international leader in marijuana research as well as legalization. Unfortunately, recreational reform continues to stagnate.

The government made it illegal to possess cannabis for anyone over 18 years old on April 1. It is no longer illegal to possess homegrown cannabis. Adults caught possessing small amounts of cannabis in public were subject to $275 in the first instance, $550 in the second, and a maximum of three convictions in seven years.

On March 9, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar signed regulation that makes possession and consumption solely an administrative fine — and both a cheaper one, and one that does not increase for a subsequent “offense.” Such regulations also replace the older laws, set in 2019, which expire at the end of this month. A fine of $150 is the maximum for any offense. Still, minors, soldiers, officers and prison guards cannot be used.

This is a temporary hold-all for the status quo, even though it’s not complete legalization. It was implemented after all attempts to legalize marijuana recreationally failed in November 2020.

Israelis who wish to have their criminal records for possession of cannabis wiped off the books can also apply, with this form, to the Ministry of Justice to have their “crime” expunged.

It may not be full cannabis legalization — but it is a first step. 

Although the Smokey Monkey patrons may have been the first Israeli cannabis user to gain access to a cafeteria, it is unlikely that they will be the last.