Not keen on seeing the inside of federal prison, Abta immediately packed his bags and departed for Israel. On his way out of the country, border patrol agents added insult to injury, handcuffing Abta as he landed in San Francisco for a connecting flight, parading the cannabis researcher across the airport to his subsequent flight despite every indication that Abta was leaving the country on his own accord.
“I haven’t heard of anyone being deported for that,” said Saul Kaye, founder and CEO of iCan: Israel-Cannabis, which promotes Israel’s cannabis industry internationally, to JTA.
Because he left the country so quickly, Abta avoided prosecution, but as the cannabis researcher fights to reunite with his wife in Vegas, where they purchased a five-bedroom home, the case has opened an entirely new can of worms for America’s already tenuous legal cannabis industry; an uncertainty that is not lost on Abta’s wife.
“If my husband is being labeled a drug trafficker because he had a marijuana staff card, then what is everyone in the state of Nevada?”
Abta’s wife has started a Change.org petition to bring attention to his case and lobby the federal government to reverse their decision. You can support their cause here.