Cannabis Use Is No Longer a Crime in Israel
Anyone caught smoking weed in public will pay a fine, and an arrest will only be made after four such offenses.
Published on March 5, 2017

Israeli officials announced yesterday that cannabis has officially been decriminalized nation-wide. The reform was proposed by the ministries of Justice and Public Security, and will lead to a series of fines instead of jail time for cannabis users who have run-ins with Israeli law enforcement.

According to Haaretz, an inter-ministry will be set up to propose legislation and regulations that would help implement the new cannabis classification.

"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." Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said.

The new law comes in part thanks to relaxing drug laws in the U.S. and around the world. And with Israel having long been a leader in medicinal cannabis research, the move to decriminalize only further proves the country is on the forefront of cannabis policy.

"This is an important step, but not the end of the road.” Tamar Zandberg, the chairwoman of the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse told Haaretz. ”It sends a message that a million of Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals. We will carry on following the details in the committee and ensure that the change is implemented."

Under the new program, anyone caught smoking marijuana in public will be issued a ticket and ordered to pay a fine of $270. That fine is doubled for a second offense, and turned into probation for a third offense, and it is only after a person has been caught smoking weed in public that they will be arrested and criminally prosecuted.

The money collected from those fines will go towards funding drug education classes and treatment centers.

It may still be a long time until the U.S. follows suit, but nation-wide decriminalization in Israel will set a prime example for politicians making their way towards legalization in America.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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