You can now smoke weed in Israel without worrying about going to jail.
After a vote in Israeli parliament Sunday, smoking marijuana is no longer a criminal offense in Israel unless you reoffend four times. First-time offenders now catch a $270 fine if caught smoking in public. Selling and growing marijuana remains criminal.
The Israeli state will now put emphasis on education about the effects of the drug rather than on enforcing the laws criminalizing its use and distribution, according to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
“The government’s approval is an important step on the way to implement the new policy, which will emphasize public information and treatment instead of criminal enforcement,” said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who Haaretz reports led the reform.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a cautious approval in his statement to the cabinet: “On the one hand we are opening ourselves up to the future. We understand the dangers and will try to balance the two.”
Israel has been progressive on marijuana for some time. Thanks to government efforts, it has become a leader in medical marijuana research. Its policies on pot stand out from the conservative laws of its neighbors in the Middle East, where, in some countries, drug trafficking is still punishable by death. While the laws may lag behind in places like Iran, pot use is rising there, without interference from the authorities.
- Perhaps the Best Drug in Medicine, According to Stanford-Trained Doctor
- CENSORSHIP: THE 1947 MEDICAL CANNABIS STUDY COVERUP
Several European states have recently decriminalized or legalized pot, including Spain, Holland, and, most recently, Germany, which voted on legalization in January. (Canada too!)
Here in the United States, 29 states have already legalized marijuana for medical use. Seven states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana use. This may change under the Trump administration. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at a press briefing in February that the federal government will push for enforcement of federal laws, which list pot as an illegal substance.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime anti-pot crusader, said in February at the National Association of Attorney Generals’ Winter Meeting that he fears we could be teetering on the brink of becoming a country in which you can buy pot in every grocery store. Sessions also said he thinks “real violence” can be attributed to the “current levels of THC in marijuana”, despite insufficient evidence.
There are currently 137,000 Americans are behind bars at any given moment on charges of drug possession, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union. That means someone in the United States is arrested for drug possession every 25 seconds.
*Article originally appeared at Minds.