Israel Police May Ease Punishment for Officers Who Are Caught Using Cannabis

Expected change follows expected change in enforcement policy toward civilians.

A protester calls for the legalization of marijuana use in Tel Aviv, 2013.
Tomer Appelbaum

The police will look into easing the punishments for police officers and police volunteers who are caught using cannabis, following a change in policy toward civilians.

Ever since Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced a change in enforcement policy, a senior officer said, the top police brass has gotten numerous questions about the matter from policemen. While no changes will be made until there is new legislation on the matter, the police will eventually set up an internal committee to reexamine the forces’ disciplinary and administrative approach to the issue.

Police officers are forbidden to use drugs of any type. “A policeman who is caught driving drunk is punished like any civilian, and may also face a disciplinary court,” said a Central District policeman. “There’s a request to examine the cannabis issue, with enforcement to be like alcohol so that [using cannabis] will not influence the policeman’s advancement.”

In the past, police officers have been denied key positions because internal investigations found they had smoked pot while on the force.

“Because of the current situation I don’t throw parties at my home,” said a veteran policewoman. “Today, when you invite people you know there’s a good chance someone will smoke in the yard or on the balcony, and then you come to evaluations and security checks and there are questions there – ‘Do you know people who smoke [drugs]?’ ‘Have you been in a place where drugs were smoked?’ and other questions that prevent excellent police officers from getting quality jobs,” she said.

Another officer told Haaretz, “Whoever says that police officers don’t smoke is simply misleading. Policemen and policewomen go abroad with friends and they smoke there, whether it’s in Thailand, Amsterdam or other places, and that’s enough to trip them up on the security checks.”