Israel has been known worldwide for its perseverance and leadership in marijuana research. And now the country is one step away from decriminalizing recreational marijuana use.
The Israeli cabinet has approved the measure, according to The New York Times. It still has to go through the Israeli Parliament, known as the Knesset. Residents still wouldn’t be allowed to grow or sell marijuana for any reason, and only fines and civil penalties would be given for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
If caught using marijuana in public in Israel, criminal penalties are possible, even if decriminalization efforts pass in the Knesset.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “On the one hand, we are opening ourselves up to the future. On the other hand, we understand the dangers and will try to balance the two.”
Proposed decriminalization penalties:
- First-time public use violation – $270 fine.
- Repeat public use violations – increased fine, criminal charges for 4th offense and after
The public security minister drafted the first set of rules that were up for discussion.
Gilad Erdan said, “The government’s approval is an important step on the way to implement the new policy, which will emphasize public information and treatment instead of criminal enforcement.”
Saul Kay, Israel Cannabis chief executive, said, “This step, although not legitimizing use, is due to reduce the negative perception of the plant as ‘immoral’ or ‘criminal, ‘ increasing openness to its outstanding medicinal and wellness properties. The decision will significantly increase entrepreneurship and investment into cannabis in Israel.”
Campaign efforts are underway to make policies concrete, such as an exact possession limit that won’t result in criminal charges.