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Parliament once again Postpones Discussions on Liberal Drug Policy Draft

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, May 9
Discussion of the bill on drug policy liberalization has been postponed by Georgian parliament once again. Ruling Georgian Dream (GD) member and the Vice-Speaker of the parliament, Gia Volsky, addressed the legislative body with the relevant request and it was supported by the majority MPs.

Volsky explained that recently four people died and several more were poisoned allegedly by unknown drugs, saying this influenced the decision of the ruling party – to refine the draft and therefore postpone the discussions.

“Several statements have been made that the recent tragic incidents were due to the lack of law, which is far from the truth,” he added.

Archil Talakvadze, the leader of the parliamentary majority, says that the GD supports the prevention-oriented drug policy with better regulations.

Talakvadze explained that the majority has three main principles regarding the drug policy:

1. The policy should be oriented on drug prevention and protect the youth.

2. The policy should include better regulations that envisage rehabilitation.

3. Law enforcement agencies should be supported to fight drug crimes.

Healthcare Committee Chair and the co-author of the bill, Akaki Zoidze says that the society has different positions regarding the draft, adding the initiators are working to make it more acceptable for everyone.

“In just a few weeks we will finish working on the draft and will publish it in order to involve the society in the discussions,” he said.

However, Deputy Chair of the Healthcare Committee Dimitri Khundadze does not support the drug liberalization draft. He says state drug policy should not envisage imprisonment of the consumers, but it must be strict and rigid towards drug distributors.

“Decriminalization should not be made by means of drug popularization, which happens recently. There are no useful or useless drugs – every drug is dangerous, "he said.

Member of the opposition party European Georgia, Sergo Ratiani, disapproves the delay of the draft discussion.

“The bill has been in parliament for over a year and a half and it has not been discussed yet. Neither the society nor the law enforcers have any idea what kind of drug policy the state has,” he noted.

Several days ago, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), a Non-Governmental Organization, published a statistical analysis of drug-related crimes, saying the existing legislation and practice related to drug policy in Georgia is in opposition to both international standards and the declared national strategy.

According to the NGO, the strategy outlines the goals of reducing supply and demand, education regarding the reduction of harmful effects, and rehabilitation, but in contrast, the existing practice is to a large extent oriented towards punishing drug user.

The draft on drug liberalization was submitted to the parliament by several GD MPs in June 2017.