Israel decriminalizes Marijuana Use

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on March 14, 2017.

In a major step towards marijuana use, Israel's Cabinet on Sunday decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana across the country. The Ministry of Public Security recommended decriminalizing marijuana earlier this year.

Under the new policy, first-time marijuana users in public who are caught in and confess will be subject to a fine of 1,000 shekels approximately $ 250, but will not face criminal charges.

A second offense will be subject to a fine of approximately $500, while a third offense may require rehabilitation, education and a suspended driver's license. A fourth offense will be subject to prosecution and a possible prison term.

However, if a minor is caught using marijuana he would be criminally investigated only if he refuses to take part in a treatment program.

The money from the fines will be used for antidrug education and treatment purpose.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who led the reform, 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."

In order to implement the new marijuana policy, an inter-ministerial team will be set up to propose amendments, regulations and the required changes by May 7.

Worldwide, many countries including the Netherlands, Mexico, Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Portugal have already decriminalized marijuana in an attempt to combat societal problems associated with its use.

In the United States, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical use and several states have also approved marijuana for recreational purpose.

Notably, Israel is one of the world leaders in research into medical use of marijuana. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, around nine percent of Israelis use marijuana, though some experts believe the figure to be higher.

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