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Israel Announces Policy to Erase Cannabis Conviction Records

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Israel Announces Policy to Erase Cannabis Conviction Records

Ed Knight

By Ed Knight

March 7, 2022

Citizens in Israel who were previously busted for

could be in line for a clean record, under a new policy announced over the weekend.

President Isaac Herzog and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar

that the country is “issuing a special call today to anyone who has previously been convicted of offenses involving the possession or use of cannabis for personal consumption and has not previously been convicted of other offenses to submit a request for the erasure of their criminal record.” Those who meet these requirements and submit a request will be eligible to have their cannabis-related convictions expunged.

, Sa’ar is “expected to sign the regulations in the coming days, after public comments are procured, and approval – followed by immediate implementation – is anticipated at the Knesset shortly thereafter.”

The call issued by Herzog and Sa’ar on Sunday said the move in Israel was driven by a “desire to erase the label of criminality and the associated stain from anyone who has previously committed the offense of personal possession or use of cannabis.”

“It must be emphasized that every request will be considered on its merits, according to its particular circumstances, on an individual basis, considering the above mentioned changes of policy and law,” the announcement said. “In addition, it must be emphasized that the special call in this press release does not preclude the submission of other requests for the erasure of criminal records or requests for pardons by anyone in the framework of the President’s general pardoning authorities.”

The policy change would apply to “anyone who has been convicted of offenses involving possession or use of cannabis for personal consumption and has not previously been convicted of other offenses besides possession of instruments for the preparation and consumption of dangerous drugs for personal use alone,” the announcement said.

It would not, however, apply “to anyone who at the time of the offense was a minor or a soldier as defined in the Military Justice Law.”

The announcement likewise said that in the case of “closed police files (police records) that did not lead to an indictment and sentencing in a criminal case (criminal records), the authority to erase the record belongs to the Israel Police.”

Otherwise, according to

, “personal cannabis use would otherwise be completely decriminalized, including for people with criminal records,” and the maximum fine would be 1,000 shekels (the equivalent of about US$306).

Submitting an Expungement Request in Israel

Requests for pardons “must be submitted by the person convicted of the relevant offense or by power of attorney, or by means of a first-degree family member,” and must “include personal details and contact details; details of the offense and court rulings; a detailed letter presenting the reason for the request, including personal circumstances and rehabilitation and any other documents establishing the reasoning for the request,” according to the announcement on Sunday.

The policy change comes on the heels of “the Dangerous Drugs Law (Special Fine Offense – Temporary Order) [which stipulated] that the offense of cannabis possession or use for personal consumption, when committed for the first or second time (within five years) would be considered liable for a fine,” the announcement said.

The announcement also alluded to an order last month “proposing to establish the offense of cannabis possession and use for personal consumption as an administrative offense, without a criminal record.”

that a “current temporary order, set to expire at the end of March, prevents imposition of a criminal record for the first few offenses, although a record is imposed on the fourth charge and on those with a prior criminal drug-use record.”

The publication

that Sa’ar “reportedly moved ahead with the regulations after concluding that there was no chance the current Knesset would pass the full legalization reform proposed by former Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn in November 2020, which would have required full-fledged Knesset legislation.”

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Ed Knight

About The Author

Ed Knight

HIGH THERE MISSION

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