Israel is moving ahead with its legalization of cannabis, with the government considering fully decriminalizing cannabis use by adults.
President Isaac Herzog and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced last Sunday that the government was also considering expunging the criminal records of those convicted of possession or personal use of cannabis, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Once the new regulations are approved, Israelis convicted of possession or personal use of cannabis will be able to have their records expunged by submitting a request to the Justice Department, which the president can rule on.
Those who are the subject of ongoing criminal proceedings will be able to contact the police and request that the charges be dropped, but only for people who have no other criminal records.
Last February, Gideon Sa’ar submitted his Cannabis Decriminalization Plan, which aims to elevate cannabis-related offenses from criminal offenses to civil offences, for public comment. The measure will “lift the criminal label and the stain that comes with it” and builds on a proposal that has been tabled to amend the Administrative Rules and Order Act.
Currently, cannabis use is partially decriminalized in the Middle Eastern country, with the first two incidents resulting in fines and indictment occurring only with the fourth offence.
Once Gideon Sa’ar signs the settlement – which is expected to happen in the coming days – approval followed by immediate implementation is expected in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, shortly thereafter. The country has already been seeking since at least 2020 to legalize cannabis, while developing its national industry around therapeutic cannabis and extensive research on the plant.