By William Stash Jones
Oregon Cannabis Connection
January 26th, 2017 – The nation of Israel, a longtime leader in medical marijuana research, has moved to decriminalize cannabis. The change in policy was announced today by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and will favor Fines and education over criminal prosecution.
The minister had tasked a panel to review decriminalization ideas and they believe a change is warranted. The panel recommended a major policy shift that uses prosecution of marijuana possession and use only as a last resort. The overall approach will change from one that is legally driven to one that takes a health-centered perspective.
Lawmaker Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) welcomed Erdan’s announcement. “Cannabis consumption falls in the area of individual freedoms where the state has no reason to intervene, since it does not cause damage,” she said. “What’s absurd is that alcohol, which is harmful and generates violence, is permitted.”
Lawmaker Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), who chairs the Knesset Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, said Erdan’s decision was “right and brave.”
She said the announcement by Erdan, who was in the past opposed decriminalization, “proves that a determent, just public campaign prevails.” Zandberg hailed the new policy a “big step forward.”
At a press conference, Minister Erdan said the nation would be adopting policies in line with what Portugal has done over the past fourteen years, which has been very effective in reducing drug abuse in their country.
“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 [possible negative] effects.”
Just a couple of days ago, the Justice Ministry made recommendations in a 120 page legal opinion to not criminally prosecute most marijuana users. Last year, the Ministry began considering the idea and introduced a bill introduced which would have decriminalized up to 15 ounces of flower. Erdan and Health minister Yaakov Litzman opposed that effort and the bill went down in the Knesset.
The new policy will not have any punitive measures invoked until a fourth offese in most cases. The Times of Israel reports:
First-time offenders would be charged a NIS 1,000 ($265) fine but would not have a criminal case filed them. That sum would be doubled on the second offense.
Those caught for a third time could still escape prosecution on condition they accept a number of possible measures, including loss of their gun or driving license and participation in a rehabilitation program. Only those caught smoking in public on a fourth occasion would be subject to automatic indictment.
Erdan also said that minors under the age of 18 would only be prosecuted if they refused a rehabilitation program.
Israel is at the forefront of cannabis research and now they are looking at the drug war and its failure, especially concerning cannabis. They are progressing so fast that their agricultural minister believes they could be exporting cannabis in a couple of years. Once again, Israel is a leader in cannabis, and this time its leading on the law enforcement aspect instead of medical research.
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