On Thursday, Israel’s Public Security Minister revealed a new policy on marijuana use. As of now, getting caught with marijuana in Israel is a criminal charge that can lead to arrest or prosecution. However, the new policy would turn that into a simple fine. Gilad Erdan, the nation’s Public Safety Minister, wants to treat cannabis use more leniently, the way several U.S. states and European countries do. He doesn’t believe personal users should be penalized nor does he think police time should be wasted chasing them.
Details On Israel’s Proposed Cannabis Policy
The new policy could take effect as soon as three months from now. Those possessing or even smoking pot at that time would receive fines. Only after repeated offenses could one be prosecuted for personal marijuana use.
Mr. Erdan claims that if the government approves the new rule, “police will be able to redirect resources… away from normative personal users and focus instead on dangerous drugs.”
With about 9% of Israelis using cannabis, decriminalizing the personal use of it would free up a lot of police time. The Israel police seem to be aware of the shift in public opinion surrounding weed. In fact, data from the Internal Security Minister shows that enforcement against marijuana use is down 30% since 2010.
A panel recommended the fine to be 1,000-shekel or 265 US dollars. Hefty, but better than being arrested and charged as a criminal. The amount of weed that you can carry on you without being fined has yet to be determined. Past policies have suggested fines only apply to possession of more than 15 grams.
Gilad doesn’t ignore cannabis’ potential for negative side effects. In fact, he recommends educating Israel on the plant’s effects.
“I don’t take this issue lightly,” Erdan said. “We need to make sure that we limit the criminal procedures while increasing education about the effects.”
Israel: The Promised Land For Cannabis
There have been about 25,000 cannabis prescriptions given out so far in the country. Israel has been one of the leading countries in cannabis research. One of the main reasons is because they can legally conduct human trials. First, medical marijuana was allowed. Then, cannabis began to be legally grown in facilities. Now, they’re attempting to discontinue the harsh penalties on marijuana users because research verifies both the potential to heal and it’s safety.
Last year, entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers began showing interest in medical marijuana for Israel. With strong backing from the business and medical sectors of the economy, cannabis could be getting closer to legalization in Israel.
Israel is apparently “the promised land,” for growing weed. One facility on the outskirts of a quiet north-Israel village carries 230 varieties of marijuana.
“For cannabis, we are in the promised land with a good climate, 300 days of sunshine each year and perfect levels of humidity,” said Tamir Gedo, head of Breath Of Life Pharma. BOL Pharma has been authorized by the Israeli Health Ministry to grow cannabis for medical use.
So, cannabis could become decriminalized in Israel shortly. However, that doesn’t mean marijuana will become completely legal. Weed’s role continues to grow in Israel. With the support of the business and medical sectors, recreational marijuana may not be far off for the nation. However, we’ll see if the government is on board with the decriminalization measure first.