This week has seen a major new development in the fight for legalized marijuana–amidst a tense political climate, Israel has officially decriminalized recreational marijuana.
The story broke on early Monday through several mainstream news outlets, but in the U.S. it tended to be drowned out by the onslaught of political news.
What are the new rules? Well, marijuana is still not legal in any way, shape, or form in Israel. The main difference is that if you are caught consuming recreational marijuana, your first offense is a $250 dollar fine, and no longer will you be brought up on criminal charges. And the money isn’t just going to the government–any fine money collected through this new law will go directly into drug education and rehabilitation programs.
“Whether one supports use of cannabis or is opposed, it is wrong to judge cannabis users per criminal law and its derivatives,” right-wing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said. “The State of Israel cannot turn a blind eye in light of changes worldwide regarding cannabis consumption and effect.”
Many people are hoping this will signal to investors to put money into the growing cannabis business in Israel. And yes, despite previously criminalizing the use of marijuana, Israel is producing it for other countries–another point of contention leading to the relaxing of those laws (previously only medical marijuana was allowed in the country).
While not a massive leap forward, this bodes well for the country, both in terms of correcting several ineffective, overly punishing drug laws, and expanding their burgeoning marijuana growing/distribution business. And if marijuana continues to add heavily to the country’s GDP, it’s likely only a matter of time before Israel moves to decide on legalization.
We will keep you updated on any developments.