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Opposition Free Democrats demand drug reform

By Mariam Chanishvili
Tuesday, August 16
Ex-deputy health minister and the author of the healthcare program of the parliamentary opposition Free Democrats, Koka Pruidze, believes that the drug policy implemented by the government requires genuine reforms.

Pruidze believes the tragedy which happened in the western Samtredia municipality last week is the result of an incorrect drug policy.

He thinks the police are responsible for his death, as well as the state as a whole, which implemented the wrong drug policy.

Demur Sturua, 22, committed suicide in Samtredia on August 7.

Sturua wrote a letter before he committed suicide in which he explained his reasons for ending his own life. According to the letter, one of the police officers was forcing him to cooperate with law enforcement bodies. The policeman was demanding information about people and places where marijuana was planted.

Former Minister of Defence Tinatin Khidasheli said that the country has an “infamous drug policy.”

She claims the central figure in the case is the policeman rather than the young man who smoked marijuana but was not a threat to anyone.

Pruidze stated that the country's drug policy should be based on justice, equality, human rights and public healthcare principles.

“The Free Democrats believe that the country's drug policy should be based on justice. This requires the reform of all drug-related legislation: the deregulation of criminal prosecution on all kinds of drug consumption (decriminalization), the aggravation of criminal liability of the drug dealers and distributors, differentiation of the administrative liability,” said Pruidze.

The party also believes that it is important to have a high quality rehabilitation service for recovering addicts and to have a modern treatment and rehabilitation system in prisons.

The Free Democrats, which was the part of the current ruling Georgian Dream coalition until 2014, will run independently in the upcoming October 8 parliamentary elections.