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Israel to Expunge Cannabis Convictions

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On Feb. 23, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted out plans to expunge many criminal records for Israelis who consume cannabis.

“I examined the matter and decided to advance the erasure of criminal records of tens of thousands of Israelis for personal use and possession [of cannabis], something that causes unnecessary suffering to many and is a burden on the courts,” he said on Twitter in regards to purging cannabis-related offenses.

Green Party Leader Oren Leibovich, whose party advocates for legalizing cannabis, also noted his approval. “I think this is something that should have been done a long time ago, and I appreciate the prime minister who paid attention, met with me, heard me and made the right decision,” Leibovich told The Jerusalem Post.  “[Justice] Minister [Amir] Ohana began work on the issue and will lead a committee which will include [medical and legal] professionals … to examine introducing the Canadian model to regulate a legal [cannabis] market in Israel.”

Currently, Israel has partially decriminalized recreational cannabis use, using fines instead of prosecuting. It allows for medical cannabis. “Personally, for me, it is about closing a circle. I embarked on this struggle exactly 10 years ago, and I believe that this week, we made a significant step on the path to a legal cannabis market in Israel,” Leibovich added.  “I just hope that a government will come into being, and we will not have to go through another election, for the fourth time in a row, so that the promise will also be implemented.”

Israel is already a major exporter of medical cannabis to other countries, including the U.K., and one of their schools even offers a degree in medical cannabis. Expunging convictions would be a huge milestone for Israel and all those following their progress.