Israel Partially Decriminalized Cannabis
The partial decriminalization eliminates offenses for personal use and possession in a private residence.
A decision dating back to March 2017 to partially decriminalize cannabis finally went into effect at midnight on Monday, April 1. The plan eliminates most criminal penalties for public cannabis possession and consumption. It also completely decriminalizes use and possession in private residences. The temporary reform will last for three years, at which point the government of Israel will decide to make it permanent or cancel it. The decrim plan includes additional reforms aimed at increasing the number of legal medical grows across Israel.
Private, Personal Cannabis Use Completely Decriminalized in Israel
A plan to decriminalize cannabis in Israel went into effect Monday, amending Israel’s Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. Using and possessing cannabis for personal use in a private home is no longer an offense at all. Get caught with weed in public, however, and you’ll still face a fine. For first-time offenses, the fine is $275 (1,000 shekel). Second-time offenders will pay double that amount.
A third strike in seven years triggers a criminal investigation and possible criminal charge and loss of driver’s or firearm licenses. Minors, however, will enter diversion and rehabilitation programs, in an effort to keep young people out of the criminal legal system. Adults who complete a drug prevention program can have their third-time criminal charge erased.
Although the reform plan does not specify a quantity of cannabis designated “personal use,” Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority defines it as 15 grams, or about half an ounce.
The decriminalization reform won’t apply to soldiers, minors or anyone with a prior criminal record. Israel police are taking efforts to remind people that possessing and consuming weed is still illegal. Only now, the offense carries a civil rather than criminal penalty, up to a point.
Law Enforcement Will Turn Focus to Securing Cannabis Farms
In addition to partially decriminalizing adult marijuana use, Israel has significantly expanded its medical cannabis industry. The country’s medical cannabis program has licensed more doctors, removed caps on authorized growers, made medical cannabis products available at public retail pharmacies. Patients can obtain a medical cannabis authorization simply with a recommendation from their primary physician.
A worldwide leader in medical cannabis research and cultivation, Israel also legalized the export of medical cannabis in December 2018. Israel’s rapidly growing industry, however, has faced increased security risks.
Just last week, masked and armed robbers raided a medical cannabis farm in northern Israel. The robbers made off with cannabis plants and the security guards’ weapons.
While just the first successful robbery attempt on a medical cannabis farm in the country, Israeli officials are increasingly concerned about the security risks posed by industry expansion. Israel could add up to 50 farms in the next few years.
Medical Cannabis Reform Cracks Down on Gifting
A final component of the reform plan will try to decrease the quantity of cannabis each patient can legally obtain. Globes reports that patient’s leftover cannabis is making its way into the illicit market. It says patients are selling their surplus cannabis or simply gifting it to friends and relatives. The decriminalization plan that went into effect Monday could make it harder for police to prevent selling and gifting cannabis.