The Knesset plenum on Thursday gave its final approval to a bill making possessing and using cannabis for personal consumption no longer a criminal offense for an individual, up to three times within a five-year period. The count is reset after five years.
The bill was approved by a vote of 41-1, with one abstention.
The new law dictates that an individual caught for the first time with up to 15 grams (roughly half an ounce) of Marijuana would pay a fine of $275; $550 for the second offense within five years of the first; and would enter 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.
Under the new legislation, 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 (roughly $800).
Minors, soldiers, prisoners and previous criminal offenders are not covered under the new law, which will remain in effect for only three years, as a temporary order, so that its effects and implications can be observed and studied.