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FILE--This April 21, 2011, file photo shows marijuana growing in the home of two medical marijuana patients in Medford, Ore. Oregon state officials have upheld local regulations blocking people from growing medical marijuana on property zoned for rural residential use. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, file)

Israel officially decriminalized recreational marijuana

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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.
Tamar Zandberg, Israeli politician

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.

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Fortunately for Israel's Jewish residents, marijuana is kosher, Haaretz reported. But that only applies if it's smoked, while extracts and edibles get more complicated.

Some were observers were surprised Israel beat the U.S. to the punch.

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