Israel: Sa'ar proposes further decriminalizing recreational cannabis use

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Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Saar in Jerusalem on February 8, 2022
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Saar in Jerusalem on February 8, 2022

'As we have pledged to the public, self-use of cannabis will not be considered a criminal offense'

Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar proposed new regulations on Wednesday that would further decriminalize recreational cannabis use.

Recreational marijuana use would not be considered a criminal offense under the proposed guidelines and seen as an administrative offense, akin to a traffic violation. 

The Public Security Ministry partially decriminalized marijuana in 2017, setting fines and treatment for initial offenders instead of criminal procedures, although recreational use of the drug is still illegal. 

The new rules state that first offenses are subject to a fine of roughly $310, second offenses are fined at about $620, and a third offense requires a conditional settlement deal. 

A fourth offense means a possible indictment, and anyone with a criminal record could be charged after their first offense. 

Sa'ar's regulations would not allow for prosecution "other than in exceptional cases," according to The Times of Israel. This includes people with a criminal record. 

Soldiers, police officers and minors will be excluded from the plan. 

Current guidelines expire in March, and action is required to prevent the law from reversing to full criminal enforcement of recreational marijuana use. 

“As we have pledged to the public, self-use of cannabis will not be considered a criminal offense,” he said, according to ToI.

“The lack of a policy on the subject makes, in practice, many normative citizens in Israel criminals, violates the rights of the individual and undermines trust between citizens and law enforcement.”

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