(JNS.org) Israel is expected to decriminalize marijuana following Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan's approval of a plan that would treat marijuana usage more like a public health violation than a criminal act.
During a press conference, Erdan said Israel would likely adopt the so-called “Portugal Model.”
“This would mean moving to administrative fines, and criminal prosecution would only be a last resort,” Erdan said, the Times of Israel reported.
While the new proposal still needs approval from the Israeli cabinet, many ministers within the government already support the move.
Under the proposal, home use of marijuana would not carry a punishment, and only those caught using the substance in public could be subject to fines or possible indictment. First-time offenders would be charged a $265 fine, with the sum doubling on the second offense. Those caught for a third or fourth time could face stiffer penalties such as suspension of a driver’s license, required participation in rehabilitation programs or even criminal charges.
At the same time, Erdan said those under age 18 would only be prosecuted if they refused rehabilitation.
“I don’t take this issue lightly,” Erdan said. “We need to make sure that we limit the criminal procedures while increasing education about the [drug’s potential negative] effects.”
Israel is a world leader in marijuana research and medical marijuana, with more than 21,000 Israelis possessing a medical license to use the drug legally. Last summer, Israel approved a plan to further relax its medical marijuana laws, enabling doctors to issue prescriptions more easily while also expanding the availability of marijuana at approved pharmacies.