According to a leaked internal memo outlined by Haaretz, police in Israel are set to begin treating small quantity cannabis cultivation as relatively minor “personal use,” instead of the more serious “possession not for personal use” or “growing a dangerous drug” which those caught growing either one plant or a whole field have traditionally been charged with.
The new order will allow officers to focus on distributors rather than consumers. Under current laws, individuals convicted of home-growing face up to 20 years in prison – the same as manslaughter and four years more than rape – however, charging people under “personal use” will allow first-time offenders to be fined, and the maximum sentence for subsequent offenses is three years imprisonment.
The directive points out that law enforcement officials have witnessed a “non-negligible increase” in the number of individuals involved in growing small quantities of cannabis “with no sophisticated means of cultivation, in planters on their porch or yard, who until this slip were considered normative citizens.”
“On the other hand, there has been a significant increase in the number of suspects growing cannabis in significant quantities, with advanced planning, including the purchase of specialty items (such as fertilizer, chemicals, drip irrigation equipment, special lamps, etc), or who were renting apartments/houses solely for this purpose,” the order states.
An Israel Police spokesperson said the order, which was not meant for publication, “is to distinguish between growing a drug for personal use and growing a drug for commercial purposes.”
“We emphasize that there is no change in police policy regarding the handling of drug offenses and the severity the law attributes to this offense,” the spokesperson told Haaretz. “Importing, selling, growing and using dangerous drugs are criminal acts that violate Israeli law and the Israel Police will work to enforce the law accordingly.”
Israel decriminalized some cannabis use in March.