The Israeli Knesset, the country’s legislative body, is moving to decriminalize marijuana with a vote set for this week. If the new law passes, it would replace jail time for most of those guilty of cannabis possession with civil fines. The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee approved the bill Monday and has advanced it to the full Knesset for consideration. The final vote on the measure is expected as soon as Tuesday.
If approved, the new law would impose a fine of 1,000 shekels (about $275 US) for first-time offenders. The fine would increase to 2,000 shekels for a second infraction. A third offense would result in a “conditional arrangement” requiring a fine or community service in order to avoid criminal charges. Fourth and subsequent violations would be considered a criminal offense subject to incarceration.
The law would not apply to minors, those with a criminal record, and members of the armed forces. Underage offenders would be required to complete a drug rehabilitation program.
Member of the Knesset (MK) Meirav Ben-Ari, who also serves on the Labor, Health and Welfare Committee, told the media that she hopes the penalties levied will benefit those experiencing negative consequences of drug use.