Israel's cabinet approved the decriminalization of recreational marijuana Sunday in attempts to "emphasize public information and treatment instead of criminal enforcement," in the words of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.
The new policy will charge a 1,000-shekel ($271) fine for people caught smoking pot in public, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports. After the second offense, the fine is doubled. After the third offense, a probationary period is instituted. The fourth offense can lead to criminal charges.
It sends a message that a million Israelis who consume marijuana aren't criminals.
Erdan said the policy was reexamined as marijuana legalization efforts gained traction worldwide. In January, he said criminal charges for marijuana use should be considered a last resort.
Israel voted to decriminalize marijuana before the United States. Let that sink in.— konor (@KonorMurtagh) March 5, 2017
Some were observers were surprised Israel beat the U.S. to the punch.