Israel Announces New Cannabis Decriminalization Plans

High Times

Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar proposed new guidelines last week which further move the consumption of cannabis away from a criminal offense and propose essentially creating an administrative one, punishable with a maximum fine of 1,000 shekels (about $310). Fines would also be limited for members of the Israeli Defense Forces, police, and minors who are excluded from the new regulation. Possession will now be treated like a traffic offense. Prosecution will not be allowed except under “exceptional cases” and does not distinguish between a first and subsequent offense.  Under current guidelines, possession is fined on the first and second offense. Under current regulations, a first offense is fined at 1,000 shekels. A second offense is 2,000 shekels and a third offense is considered a criminal violation requiring a conditional settlement deal. A fourth offense could result in conviction. The new guidelines are still temporary—there is every sense of a holding action here—but are set to replace the measures in place since 2019 and which expire in March.  However, this is far from the full and final victory many Israelis have been hoping, if not lobbying, for. Without this extension, the use of cannabis would have reverted to a fully criminal offense.  Full legalization was proposed two years ago by the previous justice minister, Avi Nissenkorn, but this has been delayed by a change of government. The new government, however, appears to be content with hanging on to the status quo, no matter how temporary, instead of actually codifying full recreational reform into law.  The new legislation still needs to be approved by the Constitution and the Law and Justice Committee. Israel is not the only country now hanging onto prohibition laws by a thread after proposing a final change. The government in Luxembourg has repeatedly stalled on their promise…

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