Israeli Army Relaxing Punishments for Soldiers’ Off-Duty Cannabis Use

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Israel is easing its punishments for soldiers who are accused of using cannabis while on leave, according to an Agence France-Presse report. Under the new rules, soldiers who test positive for cannabis when they return from leave would be forced to undergo regular tests to prove they are not using while on duty. Under the old regime, offenders were court marshaled and sentenced to up to two months in prison.

General Danny Efroni, the Chief Military Advocate General of the Israel Defense Forces from 2011 to 2015, who is overseeing the changes, said that the new measures do not apply to soldiers who are found to have used the drug on duty.

“We are offering soldiers the chance to continue their service normally and not be imprisoned and hindered by a criminal record in civilian life,” he said in a military radio interview outlined in the report. “The army wants to give a second chance to soldiers who want to complete a proper military service and to return to the right path.”

According to the report, 128 IDF soldiers were prosecuted for narcotics use last year and nearly half of all of the investigations by military police are for drug use. Cannabis is illegal in Israel except for medical use.

The new policy is expected to take effect on Jan. 1.

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