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March 31, 2019 4:46 pm

Israel Set to Officially Partially De-Criminalize Marijuana Possession

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An employee tends to a medical cannabis plants at Pharmocann, an Israeli medical cannabis company in northern Israel, Jan. 24, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen / File.

Israel will officially partially de-criminalize the possession of marijuana for personal use effective the night of March 31.

The move was originally approved a year ago at the urging of Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan. It changes the laws of drug enforcement so that possession of marijuana for personal use is punished with a fine rather than arrest and criminal charges.

According to Hebrew news site Walla, however, the move does not make marijuana officially legal. Up to 15 grams of marijuana is considered to be for personal use only. Possession of more than that is still considered intent to distribute, a criminal offense.

In addition, three citations for possession for personal use could lead to more serious charges. The fine for a first offense will be 1,000 shekels, double that for a second offense, and a third offense will be considered criminal. However, the criminal record will be closed if the offender performs anti-drug community service.

Minors who are found in possession of marijuana will be given the option of participating in drug recovery programs rather than community service.

Moreover, police will no longer enforce anti-marijuana laws if use is confined to private homes. Enforcement will only take place in public areas.

The new enforcement law will remain in place for three years, after which it will be reassessed and possibly made permanent.

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