The Constitutional Court of Georgia ruled unconstitutional the imprisonment of individuals for the consumption, purchase, possession and cultivation of marijuana for individual purposes on December 22.
The Court made its decision based on a lawsuit presented by the Ombudsman of Georgia, whose statement reads as follows:
“Use of small amount of drugs, as well as purchase, retention and production of drugs for personal usage, is punished by deprivation of liberty, which according to the Public Defender, is irrelevant, too strict and degrading punishment.
The Constitutional Court found that the norms referring to the use of a small amount of marijuana, as well as its purchase, retention and production, was a repetition of the content of the norm that had already been declared as unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. The Court declared this part of the norm as unconstitutional under the simplified procedure.
The Constitutional Court accepted for consideration the claim on the content of the disputed norms, according to which, the use of a small amount of other drugs, as well as their purchase, retention and production for personal usage.”
Active campaign demanding the liberalization of drug policies started in 2010. On June 2, 2013, the first huge demonstration was held in Tbilisi demanding the decriminalization of marijuana.
As a result of numerous campaigns of June 2nd Movement, White Noise Movement, GeNPUD and other organizations working on this issue, the Constitutional Court approved the appeal of civic activist, Beka Tsikarishvili, and ruled in 2015 that the possession of less than 70 grams of marijuana would not be punishable by jail time. In 2016, the Constitutional Court also ruled that the consumption of marijuana is not punishable by jail time.
However, up to 12-year imprisonment terms for cultivation and criminal charges and high fines for possession and consumption of marijuana still exist. The Police continually practices forced urine tests, in which citizens are stopped in the street, detained and taken to the narcology testing facility. If individuals test positive for Marijuana, they have to pay unreasonable fines, whereas in case of club or hard drugs, they may be imprisoned.
Around 50, 000 people annually are forced to take drug tests based on so called “grounded suspicion”. However, the consumption of illegal substances was found in only 35% of those tested. Around 17,000,000 GEL was spent on drug tests during the last 7 years.
The research center on addiction Alternative Georgia, in cooperation with the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), carried out research in 2015, according to which 69.4% of those polled were in favour of decriminalization of marijuana. 54.5% of those polled thought that people shouldn’t be arrested for the use of all other drugs.
In 2016, around 40 movements and organisations working in the drug policies field created a national platform on drug policy, the aim of which is to decriminalize the consumption of all drugs.