Controversy over Marijuana’s Legalization in Georgia
By Levan Khutsishvili
Friday, August 3
On July 30, the Constitutional Court of Georgia upheld the lawsuit of the political center Girchi members, thus abolishing the administrative sentence for marijuana consumption.
According to the lawyer Giorgi Chitidze, Constitutional Court's decision approves that:
1. Cannabis (marijuana) consumption is fully legal;
2. Possession of dried marijuana up to 70 grams for personal use is not punishable by prison (there is no an alternative sanction yet);
3. Purchase and storage of raw marijuana up to 100 grams is not punishable by imprisonment (there is no an alternative sanction yet);
4. Cultivation of cannabis up to 151 grams will not be punished with jail, but there are no alternative sanctions in legislation; the court will recognize one guilty but without any penalty;
5. Purchase and keeping of marijuana are still punishable according to the Code of Administrative Infraction.
The court's decision triggered various positions in the society, part of which, protests the decision and some representatives of the Georgian Patriarchate even demanded the abolition of the Constitutional Court. A member of the parliamentary Georgian Dream majority Mirian Tsiklauri agreed with the statement of priests.
"I think it is an important proposal and it is not groundless, some steps can be taken to make such amendments,” the MP stated.
Also, it is interesting that according to the research of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), 74% of society is against the legalization of marijuana.
Representatives of the political party Girchi and its supporters, also 18% of Georgian population, support the decision.
As for possible arguments from both sides, are the following:
The first and most prominent argument of supporters of marijuana legalization is that it will reduce the number of young people who use so-called heavy drugs.
And there is a strong example from the Netherlands, where Marijuana became legal in 1970.
Since then, the number of people who use marijuana in the Netherlands is stable to 600-700 thousand, while only about 15,000 use heavy drugs.
After the legalization of marijuana, the youth there have almost stopped using dangerous drugs, such as heroin and besides, the number of cocaine consumers has significantly reduced.
The number of people killed by “heavy” drugs in the Netherlands does not exceed 40 people per year, and it is the lowest number in the world.
The second argument of liberal drug policy supporters is that marijuana is used for medical purposes too.
Marijuana has the antibiotic and anti-emetic effect and is used to help cancer patients, severe sclerosis, glaucoma and other diseases.
Georgians, who are against of decriminalizing marijuana consumption say the model of other countries should not be copied in Georgia, as Georgians have different values, traditions, economic and social backgrounds and legalization of Marijuana can push the youth to other heavy drugs and effect can be different from the Netherlands and other similar countries.
After the legalization of Marijuana consumption, now only its smoking is permissible. However, the Girchi party continues its fight to make cultivation of marijuana legalized.