Israel Takes Step Toward Marijuana Reforms

JERUSALEM — 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 Israelis who consume marijuana aren’t criminals."

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After making progress on marijuana reform, the legalization movement has stalled in two New England states. Cannabis became legal in Vermont last July, but state lawmakers did not put a regulated market for marijuana in place at that time. So while adults in Vermont can possess, grow and consume cannabis, they can't buy it legally.

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