Inter-Agency Coordination Council To Elaborate Drug Abuse Policy
By Levan Khutsishvili
Wednesday, January 24On January 22, 2018, Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani convoked a regular session of Inter-Agency Coordination Council of Drug Addiction, which is developing a new Drug Abuse State Strategy.
According to Tsulukiani, the new strategy should be “complex, valuable and well balanced.” The Drug Abuse Policy must correspond to the needs and interests of the Georgian society, and should be formed with active involvement of relevant agencies.
Tsulukiani also added that the work of the Inter-agency Council with regard to the Drug Abuse Policy being elaborated since 2013 will have a logical closure in 2018.
One of the changes made this year is the abolishment of the standard according to which a doctor was obliged to call the police before treating an overdosed patient. The change was made by the Inter-agency Council and supported by Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, David Sergeenko.
Another important achievement that Tsulukiani highlighted is marijuana decriminalization. In November 2017, the Constitutional Court of Georgia satisfied the claim of a citizen Givi Shanidze, who was requesting to recognize the unconstitutional, normative content of disputed norm, according which marijuana consumption was considered as a criminal offence.
Minister of Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia, declared that the Drug Abuse Policy is “a very complex topic.” According to Gakharia, only Interior Ministry will not be efficient in the fight against the drug crime, it needs the involvement of other state agencies, and implementation of a four-column strategy. If there is not a clear understanding how prevention and rehabilitation works, it will be impossible to create a plan of action, Gakharia said. Minister of Internal Affairs also stressed that, in certain cases, strict approaches should be maintained.
Chair of Parliamentary Healthcare and Social Issues Committee, Akaki Zoidze, stated unless Georgia will not have appropriate infrastructure for offering services instead of imprisonment to drug users, decriminalization will not be effective.
Zoidze declared that the council has discussed the issue of punishment for those persons, who bring small amounts of drugs from foreign countries for personal consumption. According to the decriminalization concept, if a person keeps a small amount of drugs for personal consumption, they receive only an administrative penalty. The council has discussed whether the punishment should be similar, when crossing the state border with small amounts of drugs.
Tsulukiani asked the council members to agree on a common position in two weeks period.
The Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Issues, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Corrections are also expected to analyze the situation and come to terms on their approach.
The next meeting of the Inter-agency Coordination Council will be held in four weeks.
The Council was created in 2011 and consists of delegates from different ministries and parliamentary committees as well as representatives of different international organizations and experts.
The goals of the council are: a) determination of general policy, based on the principles of human rights protection against drug abuse; b) elaboration of State Strategy and relevant action plans against drug addiction, periodic updating and monitoring implementation processes; c) preparation of proposals and recommendations for the development of the State Strategy on Drug Abuse; and d) coordination of inter-agency activities in order to facilitate the operation of appropriate measures in the implementation of the State Strategy on Drug Abuse.