While cannabis is already “partially” decriminalised in Israel, the country’s Justice Minister has introduced changes that will further reduce the penalties for users.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar submitted a new plan to fully decriminalise cannabis in Israel to protect users from all criminal prosecution.
According to the laws in place, those caught twice get fined and indictment is only filed when the person is caught the fourth time.
Mr Sa’ar’s new bill means that cannabis users will only be fined on each occurrence – meaning criminal prosecution will not be an option anymore.
He said: “Use of cannabis will not be considered a criminal offence.
“The lack of policy on the subject becomes, in effect, many normative citizens in Israel criminal offenders, violates individual rights and undermines trust between citizens and law enforcement systems.”
The new bill will “protect” the user and all those with past criminal records. According to The Jerusalem Post, currently, people with a past criminal record are to be tried and prosecuted for any cannabis-related offences.
Israel has long been one of the leading countries in developing and running a successful medical cannabis industry.
While there are still some – mostly opposition politicians – who argue against the use of cannabis as a recreational substance, this new bill could make the country even more important player in the cannabis industry.
MK Sharren Haskel, the Head of the Knesset Cannabis Committee, said: “I congratulate the Minister of Justice, Gideon Sa’ar, on another historic and important decision.
“With new hope, we have promised to abolish the criminal record of cannabis users, and now the promise is coming true. This is a huge line for thousands of ordinary citizens who have been wronged.”
At a time when Europe is slowly opening up for cannabis, Israel realises that the only way is to follow suit.
The decade-long prohibitive policies are running out of time and support, so we should expect even more to join the list.