Middle East

Holy Smokes! Israel takes step toward marijuana reforms

  • FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2012 file photo, an Israeli woman works at Tikkun Olam medical cannabis farm, near the northern Israeli city of Safed, Israel. The Israeli government has taken a step toward decriminalizing marijuana use. Israeli media said Sunday, March 5, 2017 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet has approved a measure that would reduce penalties for possession of marijuana. If caught, smokers would pay a fine, instead of facing criminal charges. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2012 file photo, an Israeli woman works at Tikkun Olam medical cannabis farm, near the northern Israeli city of Safed, Israel. The Israeli government has taken a step toward decriminalizing marijuana use. Israeli media said Sunday, March 5, 2017 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet has approved a measure that would reduce penalties for possession of marijuana. If caught, smokers would pay a fine, instead of facing criminal charges. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2012 file photo, a marijuana plant grows at the Tikkun Olam medical cannabis farm, near the northern Israeli city of Safed, Israel. The Israeli government has taken a step toward decriminalizing marijuana use. Israeli media said Sunday, March 5, 2017 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet has approved a measure that would reduce penalties for possession of marijuana. If caught, smokers would pay a fine, instead of facing criminal charges. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2012 file photo, a marijuana plant grows at the Tikkun Olam medical cannabis farm, near the northern Israeli city of Safed, Israel. The Israeli government has taken a step toward decriminalizing marijuana use. Israeli media said Sunday, March 5, 2017 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet has approved a measure that would reduce penalties for possession of marijuana. If caught, smokers would pay a fine, instead of facing criminal charges. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File)  (The Associated Press)

Holy smokes! The Israeli government has taken a step toward decriminalizing marijuana use.

Israeli media say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet has approved a measure that would reduce penalties for possession of marijuana. If caught, smokers would pay a fine, instead of facing criminal charges.

Netanyahu said ahead of Sunday's meeting that a "new enforcement policy" should be drawn up "cautiously and in a controlled manner."

The decision does not mean that Jerusalem will now have Amsterdam-style coffee shops. The Haaretz daily said a committee would study ways to regulate the use of pot.

Opposition lawmaker Tamar Zandberg told Haaretz "this is an important step, but not the end of the road. It sends a message that a million of Israelis who consume marijuana aren't criminals."