Israeli cabinet approves decriminalising use of marijuana


The Israeli cabinet voted on Sunday to decriminalise the use of marijuana.

According to a reform proposed by the Public Security and Justice ministries, first-time offenders caught with up to 15g of marijuana in public will be fined rather than face criminal action.

For repeat offenders, the fines would continue, doubled, until the fourth offence, when the possessor of the cannabis can be indicted.

Selling and growing marijuana would remain criminal offences.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who led the reform, said: "The government's approval is an important step on the way to implement the new policy, which will emphasise public information and treatment instead of criminal enforcement."

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), the chairwoman of the Knesset Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, said: "This is an important step, but not the end of the road. It sends a message that a million of Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals. We will carry on following the details in the committee and ensure that the change is implemented."

The panel recommended shifting focus from criminal prosecution of users to administrative fines and educational campaigns.

Using marijuana for medical purposes is legal in Israel. About 25,000 people have a license to use marijuana for medicinal purposes in Israel.

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