Israeli lawmakers are set to decriminalize cannabis use for the first three times someone is caught using the drug for personal use.
According to the bill, a person caught using cannabis would pay a fine of NIS 1,000 for the first offense, NIS 2,000 for second offense if done within the five years of the first, and a “conditional arrangement” for the third offense that requires the person to pay a fine or do community service, instead of facing criminal charges, reported The Jerusalem Post.
However, children under 18, prisoners and previous criminal offenders are not covered by the new law, which is slated to take effect for only three years so it can be observed and studied.
Security Minister Gilad Erdan praised the law, saying he “hopes and believes that the law will prevent unnecessary incrimination of civilians, while also minimizing cannabis consumption, especially for our youth.”
“I definitely hope that the money [collected] from the fines will be allocated for the establishment of a fund for education, information, treatment and rehabilitation of [drug] addicts, instead of taking the money to the state’s funds,” Knesset member Meirav Ben-Ari of the Kulanu Party, who is also a member of the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee that advanced the law on Monday.
The decriminalization of cannabis comes amid concerns over Israel’s medical cannabis industry.
While Israel is known as a global leader in the research and development of medical cannabis, recent restrictions on foreign investment and the Israeli government’s slow response in approving medical-cannabis exports have been inhibiting growth in the sector.
An Israeli medical-cannabis grower, Together Pharma, announced last week that it would be moving some of its greenhouses from Israel to the European Union amid ongoing Israeli bureaucratic hurdles.
Last year, Israeli lawmakers approved new measures to allow for the international export of cannabis, with some reports saying that the state could earn up to $4 billion annually in revenue from its exportation.