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Girchi Presidential Candidate Announces Cannabis Festival

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, October 15
Zurab Japaridze, Presidential candidate and the leader of the non-parliamentary opposition party Girchi, has announced Cannabis Festival in Deda Ena Park on October 20.

According to Japaridze, the festival will become a precondition of legalization and cultivation of marijuana. As stated, the festival visitors will be able to buy cannabis, plant them or smoke it in the park.

The party has always supported the legalization of marijuana. On December 31, 2016, Japaridze planted cannabis in a live stream, but this time, he says he is not breaking law, as the Constitutional Court of Georgia satisfied his appeal and abolished administrative punishment for personal consumption of marijuana this summer.

“This time I will not violate the law because the Constitutional Court gave me such a right,” he said.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia has launched an investigation into the Cannabis Festival announced by Girchi.

The investigation is ongoing under the Article 273 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which implies illegal purchase and keeping of cannabis or marijuana.

MIA assesses Japaidze’s intention as a plan to “organize crime, call for committing offenses and encouraging citizens to engage in illegal activities.”

"Fight against the spread of drugs is one of the main priorities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the function of the police is to protect the law, eliminate abuse and timely prevent crime,” the Ministry stated.

The statement also calls on Japaridze to “abstain from making such provocative statements.”

The presidential candidate says despite the investigation of the MIA, the festival will be held.

"If the statement of MIA is serious, you have the chance to see the arrest of the presidential candidate for the first time in life. I do not believe it but still. Therefore, it's a good chance to come, enjoy, relax, and even see this historical moment,” Japaridze stated.

According to the decision of the Constitutional Court of Georgia on July 30, the use of marijuana became legal, but the court also explained that imposing responsibility for the use of marijuana is in accordance with the constitution in cases where the particular case of consumption creates threats to third parties.

The draft law prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs aims to make an illegal purchase, storage and transportation of a small amount of cannabis or marijuana punishable.

According to the bill, which is currently being discussed by the parliament, the use of marijuana for any purpose building, other than a person's place of residence, will lead to a fine from GEL 500 to 1000. If the violation is repeated the fine increases from 1000 to 1500 GEL.

The bill reads marijuana consumption is legal only in personal space. The exception is the use of marijuana by a person aged under 21 which will be punished by administrative procedure – fine GEL 500 to 1000.