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Israel To Decriminalize Cannabis; Expunge Arrest Records

Upon approval of the new regulations, those with adult-use marijuana convictions can request their records be erased

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Israel will soon decriminalize adult marijuana use and expunge criminal records of those convicted of personal Cannabis possession or use. President Isaac Herzog and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar made the announcement Sunday, reports Haaretz.

Upon approval of the new regulations, those with adult-use convictions will be able to submit a request to have their records voided. An added bonus is that those with pending criminal proceedings will be able to contact the police with a request to drop the charges.

The move, said the statement, will “lift the criminal labeling and the stain that accompanies it” and to “complement” decriminalization regulations published last month.

Israel Justice Minister Will Sign; Knesset Will Approve

Justice Minister Sa’ar will sign the regulations in the coming days, after public comments. Shortly thereafter, approval by the Knesset will happen, followed by immediate implementation.

The new regulations would not apply to those also charged with other offenses alongside cannabis use. People still charged in Israel include those possessing “drug paraphernalia;” those convicted during military service; and minors.

Minors, Soldiers, Police, Prison Guards Still Charged

A current temporary order — set to expire at the end of March — prevents imposition of a criminal record for the first few offenses. However, a fourth charge will result in a record of arrest. Folks with prior criminal drug-use records are also out of luck, for now.

If you’re a minor, soldier, cop, or prison guard, you will still be charged.

Adult marijuana use, however, is otherwise decriminalized. That includes people with criminal records, except, unfortunately, for drug use. The maximum fine is 1,000 shekels. 

Justice Minister Sa’ar reportedly moved ahead with the new regulations after deciding there was no chance the current Knesset would pass the full decriminalization measure proposed by previous Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn in November 2020. That would have required full-fledged Knesset legislation.

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