Israel to relax action against soldiers smoking pot on leave

Relaxation of rules does not apply to soldiers on duty

JERUSALEM - Israel's army is to relax its disciplinary action against soldiers accused of smoking cannabis while on leave, a general overseeing the reform said Wednesday.
Offending soldiers will no longer be systematically court marshalled nor receive prison sentences of up to two months, Danny Efroni told military radio.
But they must agree to undergo regular tests to show they are abstaining from smoking cannabis.
The relaxation does not apply to soldiers who use the drug while on duty.
"We are offering soldiers the chance to continue their service normally and not be imprisoned and hindered by a criminal record in civilian life," Efroni said.
Cannabis use is illegal in Israel except for medical purposes.
Last year 128 Israeli soldiers were prosecuted for use of narcotics, according to the Haaretz daily.
Almost half of the investigations conducted by military police involve drug use.
The military said in a statement that the new policy would take effect on January 1.
"The army wants to give a second chance to soldiers who want to complete a proper military service and to return to the right path," it said.