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Marijuana Consumption Legalized with Some Exceptions

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, August 1
The Georgian Constitutional Court has legalized marijuana consumption on Monday, which means that the Georgian parliament will have to make changes in the law to respond to the verdict.

However, the court said that the administrative responsibility for the drug consumption should be maintained for those who will use marijuana at the places of public assembly, during the presence of underage people or in the educational institutions.

Those individuals will also face administrative punishment for the drug consumption, whose jobs are related to the human health and safety.

With the verdict, the court fulfilled the motion of the Girchi political party and its presidential candidate Zurab Japaridze, who called the verdict “the victory of freedom.”

“I would like to congratulate everybody on the Constitutional Court ruling. By this decision, Georgia made step forward as a free country. The decision of the Constitutional Court canceled administrative punishment on consumption of marijuana. It means that marijuana use is fully legal in Georgia," Japaridze said.

Eka Beselia, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Issues from the Georgian Dream ruling party, says that the legislative package on liberalization of drug policy will be discussed at the parliamentary sessions in September.

As Beselia explained, the issue of personal consumption of drugs is still a question of discussion. It is also a matter of debate whether all narcotic substances or only part of drugs should be decriminalized.

Some of the ruling party members opposed the verdict.

"The Constitutional Court told us that we no longer had any legislative leverage to enforce the legislative norms on marijuana ban. Of course, this applies to consumption only,” Akaki Zoidze, Chairperson of the Healthcare Committee of parliament stated.

He said that certain restrictions should be imposed on the use of marijuana by minors.

“It has been scientifically proven that marijuana brings particular harm in the case of regular consumption in young age. I will support such regulations," Zoidze said.

Beka Tsikarishvili, who is the member of the White Noise Movement, lobbying liberal drug policy, says that the court’s decision is only an initial step.

“We can say that marijuana consumption is legal only when the parliament of Georgia makes changes in the law,” Tsikarishvili said.

Before October 2015, Georgia’s laws on marijuana say a person is to be jailed for seven to 14 years if found with a large amount of marijuana. The same law determined 50-500g of marijuana as "a large amount.”

In October 2015 the Constitutional Court delivered a verdict and stated that if an individual was caught with up to 70g of dried marijuana they must not be sent to prison, as previous punishment outlined.

In 2016 the court stated repeated marijuana users would not be sent to prison.

Georgia’s Constitutional Court stated last year that no one would be sent to prison for using marijuana, which meant marijuana consumption was decriminalized.