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NGO for Liberal Drug Policy Demands Meeting with Central Government

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, December 25
(TBILISI) - Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) White Noise Movement, which on Friday held a large protest rally against the existing drug policy, demands meeting with the representatives of central government of Georgia in order to provide them with arguments why drug policy should be liberal.

The activists responded to the statements of the Interior Minister and Prime Minister made in Parliament, who said that there is a lack of arguments why the drug policy should be liberal.

Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia stated that the issue of consumption or keeping of less serious drugs can be negotiable but excluded any liberal attitude towards consumption of serious drugs.

“This is a very complex issue and it cannot be easily decided. One of the top priorities of the Interior Ministry is fighting against drugs. We have not seen any reasonable arguments yet, where the limit between the liberal attitude and the encouragement of consumptions,” he stated.

Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili also shares the position of Interior Minister. He stated the liberal attitude towards drugs and drug-addicts could be seen as encouragement, adding healthy lifestyle is of high importance for the government.

The NGO White Noise assures they have proper arguments why drug policy should become liberal.

The Head of the NGO, Beka Tsikarishvili, says that during the last 12 years the number of drug-addicts has significantly increased, adding the harsh policy could not solve the problems followed by increased consumption.

“It is clear that the existing drug policy does not work. We are ready to provide government with absolutely substantiated, scientific arguments and we hope they will be willing to meet us,” he stated.

Tsikarishvili believes that punishment-oriented drug policy should be substituted by caring one, adding drug-addiction is decease, not a crime.

“We will intensify our protest activities until the government makes the drug policy more liberal. However, we do hope the government will be more reasonable and start taking steps forward,” the NGO head said.

Lawyer of the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), Guram Imnadze, says the NGOs are not asking for the legalization of drugs in Georgia.

He believes some restrictions and sanctions should remain, adding the drug policy should imply creation of special services for drug addicts for their rehabilitation and re-socialization.

The NGOs call on Parliament to adopt the already-initiated draft law which would mean people would not be imprisoned for personal consumptions of drugs. The draft was made by the Health Committee, together with the National Platform for Drug Policy, in spring, but the issue has yet to be put on the parliamentary agenda.