Youth

Georgia moves toward legalizing marijuana with Constitutional Court ruling

by | Nov 30, 2017

TBILISI, DFWatch–The Constitutional Court on Thursday struck down a law requiring a doctor’s prescription to use marijuana, scoring another victory for campaigners who want the soft drug fully decriminalized.

An individual’s right “to choose the desired kind of the relaxation […] including marijuana, represents the sphere protected by personal autonomy,” the court’s decision reads.

However, “since the use of marijuana may be harmful to human health, the Court decided to restrict the abovementioned right to achieve those legitimate ends, such as ensuring public safety, protection of life and health of others.”

The person who filed the lawsuit was backed up by lawyers hired by Girchi, a libertarian political party formed by defectors from Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement. Girchi has attracted public attention by it bizarre media stunts, such as the New Year’s Eve weed planting nearly a year ago.

The plaintiff insisted that marijuana use shall be allowed not only with a doctor’s prescription but also for recreational purposes, asserting that doing so does not endanger the public safety.

“The defendant failed to present evidence based on proven scientific studies or life experiences on which the Court might conclude that either under the marijuana use […] creates an increased threat to a person committing an offense and/or violation of the public order,” the ruling states.

“Furthermore, the defendant’s side was unable to present evidence based on scientific research that confirmed that marijuana, due to its biological or chemical properties, will cause the development of addiction to another drug.”

The decision is one more step toward full decriminalization of soft drugs in Georgia. 11 months ago, the same court ruled that prison is too harsh punishment for marijuana use. That ruling applied to “the use of a small amount of marijuana, as well as its purchase, storage and production”.

The latest ruling may significantly change the approach by law enforcement toward marijuana users, as police will not be able to prosecute them for repeated use. It might cause charges to be dropped against individuals, predominantly young men, who are either under criminal prosecution on such charges or have already been convicted.

The ruling stops short of full legalization of marijuana use, but Girchi lawyer Iago Khvichia pledged to make it fully legal “in the near future”.



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