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Legalization | 04.28.2022

Israel Reduces Fines For Cannabis Users & Promises Zero Prosecutions

Israel is expanding cannabis decriminalization with another beneficial bill.

Last month, Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar made legal efforts to further decriminalize cannabis use by creating a bill that would reduce penalties to a fine of NIS 1,000. In similar news, Sa’ar announced yesterday that he signed the bill and it’s currently moving into law. 

However, the government made some slight and rather beneficial changes to the bill before it took effect. Instead of fining cannabis users NIS 1,000 per incident, law enforcement will only fine NIS 500 and are prohibited from prosecuting those who use the plant. 

Prior to the bill, cannabis was decriminalized in Israel, but not to the full extent. The Jerusalem Post notes that fines were only given to cannabis users on the first three incidents, but charges and prosection would be filed on the fourth. 

Photo by Mackenzie Freemire

Sa’ar spoke with the outlet and explained how “Use of cannabis will not be considered a criminal offense.” He further explained that the lack of policy “on the subject makes, in effect, many normative citizens in Israel criminal offenders, violates individual rights and undermines trust between citizens and law enforcement systems.” 

The following motions are the main points of Sa’ar’s new decriminalization bill;

  • Removing the differences between first and second offenses
  • Reducing fines from NIS 1,000 to NIS 500
  • Protecting cannabis users from prosecution if applicable (e.g., nonviolent)
  • Giving the same consequences to those with criminal records

Head of the Knesset Cannabis Committee, MK Sharren Haskel, told The Jerusalem Post that he congratulates “the Minister of Justice, Gideon Sa’ar, on another historic and important decision.” Haskel has long hoped for the abolishment of criminal records for cannabis users, and with new laws like the recent one, he hopes it will come true sooner than later. 

“This is a huge line [of opportunity] for thousands of ordinary citizens who have been wronged,” Haskel concluded. 

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