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Court decriminalises cannabis consumption in Georgia

30 November 2017
'Decriminalisation is inevitable', says a poster during a rally for softer drug policy (Luka Pertaia/Netgazeti)

Georgia’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, has ruled that it is unconstitutional to criminally prosecute people for consuming cannabis, effectively decriminalising its use. This is short of decriminalising the purchase, storage, or sale of cannabis, and is not legalisation.

In what has been described as a historic decision by drug policy activists, the Court ruled on 30 November that it is up to an individual to choose if they wish to consume cannabis.

‘Cannabis consumption has been decriminalised today; It will soon be decided whether [consumption] will be legalised’, Iago Khvichia, a lawyer and member of non-parliamentary political party Girchi said at a press conference.

The case was taken to court by Givi Shanidze, who was represented by lawyers from Girchi.

The decision means people will no longer be punished under the criminal code (or jailed) for consuming cannabis, but they could still face penalties such as fines or community service under the administrative code.

In a previous judgement in 2015, the court decriminalised possession of anything less than a 70 grams of cannabis.

Anyone caught in possession of anything more than this can still be punishable under the Criminal Code.

‘Another blow to repressive drug policy’

The court’s full judgement has not yet been released, which will make it clear whether the same rationale can be applied to other drugs as well.

Drug policy activists the White Noise Movement wrote on Facebook that the recent decision is ‘yet another blow to repressive drug policy’.

Parliament must now adopt the Court’s ruling into Georgian law.

In a separate matter, Parliamentary hearings on Georgia’s drug decriminalisation bill, which would decriminalise possession of all drugs, are scheduled to begin next week.

[Read on OC Media: Georgia’s ‘war against the people’ and the war against a ‘system that stinks’]