Israel’s Attempting to Charge Citizens for Minor Personal Use of Cannabis
“This is a biased and partial publication of a professional guideline by the police prosecution division. The purpose of the internal guideline is to distinguish between growing a drug for personal use and growing a drug for commercial purposes. We emphasize that there is no change in police policy regarding the handling of drug offenses and the severity the law attributes to this offense. Importing, selling, growing and using dangerous drugs are criminal acts that violate Israeli law and the Israel Police will work to enforce the law accordingly.” - Statement by Israeli Police from the Haaretz Report
Israel has long been attempting to lessen its punishments for the personal use of cannabis but lately, home growers of marijuana are seeing actual changes. These changes influence home growers by regulating personal marijuana and medical marijuana use through laws. It’s no wonder that many of the marijuana industries eyes are landing firmly on Israel. Recently some places like California have seen changes in legislation leading to full legalization, other places choose to decriminalize cannabis completely.
What exactly is the deal with Israel’s change in standpoint and how will it affect the cannabis culture there? Israel is a country that stands up for its ability to prosecute those that break laws and to the fullness of that ability, especially when it comes to acts that are considered criminal.
So how will Israel manage to maintain their strict stance on the transport, distribution, cultivation, and use of this so-called ‘dangerous drug’ while at the same time offering leniency to those growing for personal use?
Israel will need to adapt to the changes in the cannabis industry while ensuring cannabis remains secure for home growers. In order for them to change, they’ll need to backtrack to their first stages of regulating cannabis. We’ll illustrate past events of Israel regulating cannabis from this past year to understanding its laws against Israeli citizens who desire to grow cannabis for personal use.
What We Know About Israel’s Strict Laws on Cannabis
Earlier this year Israel had over a quarter of its citizens, between the ages of 18 to 65, consume cannabis in one way or another, according to a survey report called “The full survey: Israel leads the world in the percentage of cannabis consumers.” This was a full 9 percent more of the population than the next highest annual usage of cannabis in the world. While it may be surprising to hear that Israel has amongst the world’s most cannabis smokers, it won’t be such a surprise that the laws on the drug are somewhat strict.
How strict? According to a news report by Haaretz , it gives a brief overview of the laws and regulations Israeli has on cannabis. First off, a person who’s caught cultivating the plant for non-personal or commercial use could expect a maximum prison sentence that was the same length as manslaughter. Recreational use of the drug known as cannabis was illegal and anyone caught in cultivating or dealing it were usually prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There was at least some leniency shown towards those who were caught in possession for personal use. This was of course before March 2017.
Citizens saw changes in the way that the drug would be dealt with by the law. For the two years prior to this, previous governments were attempting to change the laws. Medical marijuana had been praised by certain parts of the country’s leadership so they were allowed to grow as a sector. Now Israel has become one of the world’s biggest suppliers to the medical marijuana trade.
Israel has for decades been a leading force in the world of medical marijuana, with one of their own being the first to isolate cannabis’ psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol or THC in 1964. Since then, the presence of medical marijuana use remained in Israel. Even their army has a history of using the drug to treat soldiers who suffer from a post-traumatic stress disorder. The love that Israel has for medical cannabis is apparent then and now for some time.
Israel also allowed medical cannabis companies to export their products causing an instant rise in the number of outside companies now coming to Israel to set up operations of their own. We’ll see changes across the board from the steep rise of medical cultivation and the new leniencies in the laws stated by Haaretz news report.
Where Israel’s Cannabis Laws Stands Now
The current laws about possession and growth for personal use are becoming far more liberal because there are four legal offenses in process before a person is put into imprisonment for using cannabis. The new view seems so lean towards rehabilitation and further education on the drug rather than the old far more strict measures of punishment.
In addition, the first offense is likely a caution or at most a fine and a confiscation of the drug which is still at this point illegal. This is when a person is found using the drug in a public place. The second offense would be treated in an equally lenient manner with perhaps a larger fine being attached. Upon receiving a third offense caution, a person would receive further fines and be forced to attend a mandatory program.
These programs are put in place to rehabilitate those with usage problems. Of course, after an individual attends the programs and hasn’t learned a lesson the government wants them to learn by using the drug in a public place for the fourth time, then incarceration is the last step taken. It’s likely the sentence won’t be too harsh, however, the country has a maximum 20-year sentence for growing non-personal use outside of the medical sector. The individual may need to watch their country of Israel make changes within the cannabis laws to remain within the boundaries of the laws.
For so long Israel has led the world in the field of medical marijuana and not only allows the use of it medically but continues to ease sanctions on its use personally. So where will they land? It looks as though they are moving towards full legalization, but there’s still a long way to go.