Decriminalized Use of Marijuana In Israel

The cabinet approved on Sunday the decriminalized use of marijuana in Israel. According to the proposal formulated by the Public Security and Justice ministries, any first-time offender caught using marijuana in public would receive a fine rather than face criminal action. The panel recommended switching the focus on marijuana usage from the criminal level to the educational one, and expanding responses to marijuana use beyond opening criminal files and prosecuting users. According to the new policy, first-time offenders that are caught using marijuana in a public place will incur a fine of 1,000 shekels ($271) but the offender will not face criminal charges. The fine will be doubled on the second offense. The third offense will lead to probation, with the record of the offense only being expunged after a brief period. Only on the fourth offense will criminal charges be pressed.

Now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will no longer oversee any investigation into the 2016 election, his path to continue a refashioning of the Justice Department may be even clearer. Sessions’ early words and actions are consistent with the tough-on-crime reputation the former federal prosecutor cultivated as an Alabama senator, and they foreshadow an unmistakable pivot in critical areas of civil rights, criminal justice and drug policy. In a matter of weeks, the Sessions Justice Department repealed a memo that directed the department to phase out the use of private prisons, hinted at a reversal of the department’s more hands-off position on marijuana enforcement, and announced his desire to “pull back” on federal scrutiny of local law enforcement.

Colorado may ban collective marijuana growing under a bill that calls some patient-owned marijuana grows a “public nuisance.” A bill up for its first hearing in a House committee Monday would ban co-op pot growing by setting a statewide limit of 12 marijuana plants per residential property. Colorado currently allows medical pot patients to grow up to 99 plants, far beyond other marijuana states, and it also allows recreational users to group their allotted six plants into massive co-ops, entire greenhouses of pot that aren’t tracked or taxed. But the change would effectively force some medical marijuana patients to buy from a licensed grower instead of growing their own plants. Rep. KC Becker, a Boulder Democrat who is sponsor of the bill, called Colorado’s generous plant limits a “big regulatory loophole” for black-market drug operations.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider a plan Wednesday to shut down all marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas of L.A. That would put about 70 medical collectives in the sheriff’s crosshairs, which has alarmed Los Angeles pot advocates. The board in 2011 banned all dispensaries in unincorporated areas, so the risks have been well known to marijuana business owners. Last month, the board voted to extend that ban.

Connecticut lawmakers will hear public feedback on the first of several bills filed this session that would legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. The General Assembly’s Public Health Committee has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday on legislation that would require the Department of Consumer Protection to create and administer a program that allows people 21 years and older to legally purchase and cultivate marijuana. The bill also requires the Department of Revenue Services to create and administer a system for taxing the drug. Republican Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Haddam is co-sponsoring the bill. The ranking Republican House member on the Appropriations Committee, Ziobron says she wants to “promote a healthy and substantive discussion” of the issue. Similar legalization bills proposed by mostly Democrats are awaiting action in other committees.

The state of Montana argues a Billings medical marijuana cardholder charged with possessing more than an ounce of undried marijuana can appeal a pre-trial ruling after the District Court case is decided. Wayne Steven Penning sought to have the charge dismissed, arguing that humid marijuana does not fall under the state’s definition of usable marijuana and is not subject to the one-ounce possession limit. District Judge Rod Souza said that was an issue for a jury to decide. Penning asked the Supreme Court to overturn Souza’s ruling, which Penning said effectively made it illegal for medical marijuana patients to harvest their plants without having to destroy most of their crop. The state’s reply, filed March 1, says Penning’s issue is not an emergency and that there are some uses for humid marijuana.