Israel’s new cannabis decriminalization policy, approved by the government in March, officially came into effect Sunday, commencing a new legal approach towards the recreational use of marijuana in the Jewish state.
The new government policy shifts the responsibility of enforcing marijuana laws from police to civil authorities. Yet recreational cannabis use is not fully legalized in Israel, and the Israel Police clarified that “even under the new enforcement policy, cannabis use will stay illegal in the public sector,” reported Yedioth Ahronoth.
Possessing more than 15 grams of cannabis remains illegal in Israel. Further, individuals caught carrying less than 15 grams may still be apprehended depending on whether or not the marijuana is determined to be for personal consumption or distribution, based upon the way it is packaged. If police determine the cannabis is for personal use, the individual’s criminal past will be checked; if no drug-related offenses are found, the individual will be fined NIS 1,000 ($280).
Second-time cannabis offenses will result in a NIS 2,000 ($560) fine, third-time offenders will be investigated for drug offenses and have the violation added to their criminal record, and fourth-time offenders will be indicted. A refusal to pay fines could result in a prison sentence of up to one year.