The proposed regulations to decriminalize personal cannabis use and largely expunge the criminal records of those previously convicted of personal possession or use, have been signed by Israel’s Justice Minister Haaretz reports.
President Isaac Herzog and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar had previously announced the government’s plans to decriminalize recreational cannabis use. This development follows the publication of the Justice Minister’s plan to decriminalize cannabis last month.
Sa’ar reportedly proceeded with the proposed decriminalization bill once it became clear that the Knesset – Israel’s legislative body – would not pass the fully fledged decriminalization legislation proposed by the former Justice Minister Nissenkorn.
After public comments had been received, Sa’ar wasted no time in signing off the regulatory change. The Knesset is anticipated to enact the laws with immediate implementation shortly thereafter.
Is cannabis now legal in Israel?
Once the new regulations become law, those with recreational use convictions can apply to have their criminal records expunged. Those with pending criminal proceedings would be able to contact the police and request that the charges against them are dropped.
Aside from possession of drug paraphernalia, the expungement regulations do not apply to individuals convicted of further offences alongside cannabis use. Minors and those convicted of personal cannabis offences during military service are also excluded from expungement eligibility.
The current laws around personal cannabis use in Israel – defined by a temporary order set to expire at the end of this month – prevents the consequence of a criminal record for the first few offences. However, a record is imposed on the fourth charge and in cases where there is a prior criminal record for drug use.
The new cannabis laws in Israel would completely decriminalize cannabis use, bar the aforementioned exceptions. The maximum fine will be limited to 500 shekels.
By decriminalizing recreational cannabis possession and use with retroactive effect, the proposed laws will tackle the stigma and criminal labelling associated with cannabis use.
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