MOSCOW—Israel has decriminalized recreational marijuana use, and will study regulations to perhaps begin a legal cannabis industry.
Using marijuana in public will still be banned, but instead of criminal action, first-time offenders will incur a fine of 1,000 shekels (USD271). The fine will double upon a second offense, and a third offense will lead to probation. Not until a fourth offense will criminal charges be pursued.
Minors who are caught using the drug will be subject to treatment, and will only face potential criminal charges if they refuse to participate.
The proposal was based on the conclusions of a committee headed by Public Security Ministry Director General Rotem Peleg, Haaretz reports.
“Whether one supports use of cannabis or is opposed, it is wrong to judge cannabis users per criminal law and its derivatives,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said. “The State of Israel cannot turn a blind eye in light of changes worldwide regarding cannabis consumption and effect.”
Money collected from public-use fines will be used for anti-drug education, and treatment programs.
The move to legalization has been praised by Israeli lawmakers from all sides of the political aisle. Israel has been one of the global leaders in paving the way for medical marijuana, with the support of the Ministry of Health.
Over 20 nations are currently exploring changing their marijuana laws. Many countries have already decriminalized the use of cannabis, including the Netherlands, Mexico, Costa Rica, Czech Republic,and Portugal.
In the United States, recreational use, and sales, as well as medical prescriptions are legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. There are 28 states, alongside the District of Columbia, which allow solely for the medicinal use of marijuana.