The cannabis industry has been on a roll over the course of the past few years, and the boom continues as legislation around the world makes its way to the public eye. One of the forefront countries in the fight for legislation has been the nation of Israel. Israel has been at the top of the game for a long time now in terms of research on the substance, but new laws may make cannabis legal for medicinal use within the country.
A vote will determine whether or not cannabis will become legal in the state of Israel this week as it goes before the Knesset. The new bill would effectively decriminalize the use of marijuana, meaning that medicinal or not, individuals would not be penalized for the use of cannabis. The bill met some historical regard already passing unanimously during the first reading of the bills contents back on March 7th. With two more successful votes in the states governing body, the bill will be able to pass.
The bill is basically an amendment to the existing laws helping to make it penalty free to possess cannabis in public. The existing laws give jail time for being found with cannabis, but the new bill would simply replace this with a simple fine for being caught with the plant.
The one who is mainly pushing the bill is the Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister, Gilad Erdan. He has managed to become quite a vocal figure in the fight for legislation in the cannabis industry. He has stated that the goal of the bill is to “reduce the harms of drug usage regularly but avoid as much as possible the criminal stigmatization of average citizens.” Others in the government such as Tamar Zandberg, have stated that they support the bill, and that it is fully a step in the right direction for the country. She stated that “the law is far from perfect, but it’s a foot in the door on the way to full legalization. There is a lot of work ahead.”
Although jail time is obviously not ideal, the fines are definitely a better alternative. One of the issues with the bill is that the fines are still quite high at around $300 per offense for the first time. The fine effectively will double for a second offense, and probation for the third time one is caught. Fourth and subsequent times an individual is caught holding the substance would result in criminal prosecution. One of the things that the bill also changes is the punishments for underage individuals. Minors in the country who are caught in possession will be required to attend a mandatory rehabilitation program. If the minor opposes going to the program, they will face prosecution, which is unlikely.
Israel has been quite a hotbed for the substance in the past few years, with marijuana contributing a significant amount to the culture in the country. In a country of around 8 million individuals, nine percent of Israelis state that they use cannabis. In addition to this, around 25,000 individuals have received a license from the government that allows them to use for medical use. With protests around the country happening on 4/20, the internationally agreed upon marijuana day, it seems that Israel has adopted quite a lax policy on policing cannabis. The hopes are high that the near future will see a higher rate of adoption for cannabis as the nationwide climate becomes better. Only time will tell how well this new regulation will help the market on marijuana to continue growing within the country. With countries like Israel leading the fight for legal cannabis, the near future seems bright for the industry on pot.