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Artist Blankets Tel Aviv With “Designated Cannabis Zone” Signs

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Looking to make a point that weed should be treated no differently than cigarettes? Israeli street artist “Schroeder,” is doing just that, by hanging “designated cannabis zone” signs around Tel Aviv.

A cross between a prank and a protest, the signs look official, as if they’d been manufactured by the municipality and resemble signs you might have come across that designate regular smoking zones for cigarettes.

“The goal is to simulate discourse and perhaps even wake people up,” Schroeder says of his project. “Cannabis is a plant that has been marked for many years as the public enemy, under the auspices of pharmaceutical companies and their lobbyists, and of course members of the Knesset {Israeli parliament} and the ministers.

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The signs garnered a good deal of attention, as locals took photos of them before city officials took them down. Schroeder hung 40 signs in Tel Aviv and is considering hanging more in other cities. “I was debating whether to take out a joint and smoke here on the bench in the garden,” said one local, Uri. “On the other hand, it could be a trap set by undercover cops. Right now, it’s better to smoke quietly without arousing too much attention.”

Schroeder’s signs express his frustration with the Israel’s new “decriminalization” law. “A few months ago, Minister Gilad Erdan used us for some public relations, and apparently began a process of decriminalization, but immediately after reaping the media benefits, everything just dispersed into nothing,” he says. “The struggle for legalization is important because it represents something beyond the drag. They think that the public is dumb and if they flaunt the decriminalization, all the potheads will get off their backs, much like in the social protest of 2011 {which launched the Occupy Movement}.”

In March, the Israeli Knesset announced a decriminalization policy under which first-time offenders caught smoking weed in public would be subject to a $270 fine (1,000 shekels) but no criminal charges, double the fine on the second offense, probation on the third offense, and criminal charges on the fourth.

Many Israelis, like Schroeder, are disappointed with the new law, and continue to advocate for full legalization. Activists argue that cannabis should be fully legal, just how medical marijuana is under the country’s scientifically advanced and world-renowned medical program.

Artist Blankets Tel Aviv With “Designated Cannabis Zone” Signs