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Sa’ar proposes further decriminalizing recreational cannabis use

Israelis gather at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to mark the international marijuana smoking day, in a demonstration to legalize the drug, on April 20, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israelis gather at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to mark the international marijuana smoking day, in a demonstration to legalize the drug, on April 20, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar publishes a list of new regulations that, if approved, will further decriminalize recreational cannabis usage in Israel.

Under the new draft guidelines, recreational marijuana usage will not be considered a criminal offense at all, and will become an administrative offense, similar to most traffic violations.

Under the current rules, first and second offenses are subject to a fine of NIS 1,000 and NIS 2,000 respectively, a third offense requires a conditional settlement deal, and a fourth offense means a possible indictment. Under the current arrangement, anyone with a criminal record can be charged from their first offense.

Sa’ar’s proposed new regulations, which still require approval by the government, will not allow for any prosecution “except in exceptional cases,” will not exclude people with a criminal record, will limit fines to NIS 1,000 and will not differentiate between a first and repeated offenses.

The current guidelines, Sa’ar says, expire in March and action is required to prevent a reversion to full criminal enforcement of recreational marijuana use.

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