Bill to decriminalize cannabis use set to become law

The Knesset plenum is set to pass into law overnight a bill regarding cannabis use that would decriminalize the first three times someone is caught using the drug for personal use, after the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee advanced it on Monday.

The bill mandates that such a person would pay NIS 1,000 for the first offense, NIS 2,000 for the second if done within five years of the first, and a “conditional arrangement” for the third offense, which would require the cannabis user to pay a fine or do community service in lieu of a criminal charge.

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Users can ask to go to trial instead of paying the fine – but if they are then found guilty, they must pay a fine “no less than three times the original fine,” according to a statement released by the committee.

Minors, soldiers, prisoners and previous criminal offenders are not covered under the law, which would stay in effect for only three years, so that its effects and implications can be observed and studied.

Committee member MK Meirav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) said in a statement: “I definitely hope that the money [collected] from the fines will be allocated for the establishment of a fund for education, information, treatment and rehabilitation of [drug] addicts, instead of taking the money to the state’s funds.”

She later told The Jerusalem Post that “this [current] policy of people over 21… getting a police file” for smoking cannabis is problematic, and that “we are here to fix this… to not turn these people into criminals.”