A young couple was detained by police on Wednesday for operating a cannabis growing operation out of their Tel Aviv apartment.
Law enforcement busted into the home in the southern residential district of Tel Aviv to find some nine kilograms (20 pounds) of hydroponically grown marijuana in addition to $9,000 in cash.
The 23-year-old man and his 22-year-old partner were arrested at the scene and were due to appear in Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court later in the day.
In an announcement last month, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said he would be adopting proposals put forward by the Anti-Drug Authority to endorse the “Portugal Model,” in which possession and use of marijuana would be decriminalized and treated largely as a health issue.
The new tack still needs to clear the cabinet, but with many lawmakers backing decriminalization, the move is seen as likely to gain ministerial approval.
Under the proposal, home use and possession of marijuana would carry no punishment but those caught smoking in public could be subject to a series of punitive measures. First-time offenders would be charged a NIS 1,000 ($265) fine but would not have a criminal case filed against them. Only those caught smoking in public on a fourth occasion would be subject to automatic indictment.
Erdan did not specify the amount of marijuana that would be subject to sanctions but the Anti-Drug Authority has in the past recommended that fines apply only for possession of more than 15 grams (half an ounce) of marijuana.
Among Western countries, Israel already has one of the highest per capita rates of legal marijuana use, with over 21,000 people medically licensed to use the drug.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.