Israel announces new plans to decriminalize cannabis

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Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar on Wednesday released a list of proposed new regulations that, if approved, would further decriminalize cannabis use in Israel.

Recreational cannabis is still illegal in Israel, although the Ministry of Public Security partially decriminalized it in 2017, setting fines and treatment for first offenders instead of criminal proceedings.

Currently, the first and second offense are subject to a fine of 1,000 NIS (270€) and 2,000 NIS (540€) respectively, a third offense requires a conditional settlement agreement, and a fourth offense means a possible bet. in examination. Anyone with a prior criminal record can be charged after their first offence.

However, the current guidelines expire next March. The Israeli legislator must therefore act to prevent a return to the full criminalization of cannabis.

More flexible decriminalization

According to the new draft guidelines, the use of cannabis by adults will not be considered a criminal offense at all, but an administrative offence, similar to most traffic offences.

Sa’ar’s proposed new regulations will not allow for prosecution “except in exceptional cases,” including for those with criminal records, limit fines to NIS 1,000, and make no distinction between first and recurrences.

Minors, as well as soldiers and police officers on compulsory service, will be excluded from decriminalization.

“As we promised the public, self-consumption of cannabis will not be considered a criminal offence,” he said. “The lack of a policy on the matter makes many Israeli citizens, in practice, criminals, violates the rights of the individual and undermines trust between citizens and law enforcement. »

In 2020, Avi Nissenkorn, then Minister of Justice, presented a plan that would have legalized recreational use, a project shelved due to the collapse of the government and the calling of new elections.

MP Sharren Haskel, a member of Sa’ar’s New Hope party, defended the decriminalization of cannabis. She heads a parliamentary committee that is working to streamline regulations that she says will “put Israel back at the forefront” of the industry.

Among other things, it seeks to remove bureaucratic hurdles for scientists studying cannabinoids, ease export restrictions and allow CBD to be marketed to the general public.

She said the red tape “has suffocated the whole market” and caused businesses to move overseas. “It’s almost impossible to have clinical research here in Israel.”

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