Israeli Ministers Give Preliminary Approval to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession

Knesset will have its first vote on the bill on Wednesday, as government presses ahead with cannabis reform

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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A medical cannabis greenhouse located near Tel Nof, February 5, 2020
A medical cannabis greenhouse located near Tel Nof, February 5, 2020Credit: Ilan Assayag
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Sunday two bills that would decriminalize the possession and personal use of cannabis in Israel.

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The bills, promoted by Likud lawmaker Sharren Haskel and Kahol Lavan lawmaker Ram Shefa, will be brought to the Knesset for a preliminary vote on Wednesday.

Three weeks ago, the parties of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz released a joint statement that they will advance legislation to further decriminalize cannabis. Kahol Lavan aimis to legalize the possession of certain amounts of the substance and is examining the possibility of establishing cannabis dispensaries similar to Amsterdam's coffee shops.

Hasekl has said in interviews that the law will pass a final approval within months. "It was a difficult road, full of struggles politically and in the media, but the determination and persistence has paid off," she wrote in a social media post, adding that she is proud to bring good news to millions of cannabis consumers and tens of thousands of people who use it for medicinal purposes.

Cannabis decriminalization reform went into effect on April 2019, making anyone caught smoking or in possession of marijuana for the first time face a fine of 1,000 shekels ($290).

Second-time offenders have to pay a doubled fine. Suspects caught with marijuana for a third time would face a conditional procedure, an alternative to a criminal procedure where the suspect’s file could be closed under conditions set by the police. Criminal proceedings against a marijuana user would be launched only if they are caught a fourth time.

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