Herzog, Sa'ar call on convicted cannabis users to request clemency

The President and Justice Minister are working to decriminalize the personal use of cannabis and make it an administrative offense as part of a broader push to reform Israel's penal system.

New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Israelis who have been convicted for possessing or using cannabis for personal purposes were called upon to submit a request to have their criminal record erased, President Isaac Herzog and Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced on Sunday.

The call came after on February 9 a proposal was put forward to amend the Administrative Rules and Order law such that possessing or using cannabis will be designated as an administrative offense and will not warrant the opening of a criminal record.

The clemency process in Israel requires that a person who wishes to erase his criminal record submit a request with the Justice Ministry, which then prepares a file and recommendation for the President to decide upon. 

Herzog and Sa'ar's joint call means that both are inclined to view favorably requests about cannabis personal-use infractions (as opposed to selling or procuring it). They stressed however that each request will be examined separately and independently based on its specific circumstances. They also specified the call to people who have no other criminal records.

Sa'ar has been pushing an agenda of the decriminalization of cannabis and other illegal actions since taking office.

A man prepares a cigarette mixed with marijuana during Cannatech 2017, an annual global cannabis industry event, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 20, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)A man prepares a cigarette mixed with marijuana during Cannatech 2017, an annual global cannabis industry event, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 20, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
 

In December Herzog and Sa'ar announced a similar call for people who were convicted for offenses related to prostitution to file requests for clemency, in order to help them leave the circle of prostitution and join the normative workforce.