41 MKs pass cannabis decriminalization bill

Tobacco advertisement bill also passes first reading.

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July 19, 2018 18:14
1 minute read.
41 MKs pass cannabis decriminalization bill

An employee inspects the leaf of a cannabis plant at a medical marijuana plantation in northern Israel.. (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / REUTERS)

 
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Wednesday night, just before the Knesset’s summer recess began, 41 MKs passed a law decriminalizing cannabis. One MK voted against the bill, and one abstained.

The bill, sponsored by the government and promoted by MK Meirav Ben-Ari (Kulanu), had originally been set to become law earlier in the month.

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Under the law, a cannabis user will pay a NIS 1,000 fine the first time he is caught, double that for a second offence within five years, and receive a “conditional arrangement” for a third offense requiring either community service or payment of a fine. The impact of the bill, which does not apply to minors, soldiers or previous criminal offenders, will be studied over a 3-year period.

Another bill regulating tobacco advertisements passed its first reading.

The bill, sponsored by MK Eyal Ben-Reuven and MK Eitan Cabel, both of Zionist Union, and a group of other unnamed MKs, stipulates that advertisements for “smoking products” will only be able to be shown in forums that target smokers. The bill proposes criminal penalties for violators.

“Even though a [total] ban on advertisements for tobacco products violates the freedom of business and freedom of expression for tobacco companies,” the group said in a statement, they believe the “serious damage to public health” caused by smoking warrants the move to limit the ads “only to the smoking public, who will be exposed to the advertisement voluntarily.”

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