Georgian Constitutional Court: drug possession in quantities too insignificant for consumption will not be punishable by prison
The Constitutional Court of Georgia has ruled that individuals will not be sentenced to five-eight years in prison for the purchase and possession of small quantities of drugs “unfit for consumption.”
The court concluded that such a sentence was “disproportionate” and contrary to the constitutional provision prohibiting the use of inhuman punishment.
After the court decision comes into force, individuals imprisoned for charges of possessing such amounts of drugs will be freed.
In addition, by this court decision, all persons currently on probation may appeal to the Court of Appeal for a second review.
“No one will be arrested for empty syringes anymore, and those already arrested will be released,” said Beka Tsikarishvili, one of the activists of the White Noise, a group that advocates the decriminalization of drug use.
White Noise and the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) filed separate lawsuits with the Constitutional Court, and the court combined these two cases into one – “Noe Korsava and Giorgi Gamgebeli against the Parliament of Georgia”.
What did the plaintiffs demand?
Until now, people in Georgia have been sentenced to five-eight years in prison for those who have been found in possession of even an empty syringe left after using drugs if they showed invisible particles of substance in them.
The Young Lawyers Association defended the interests of one man who was found guilty of possession of 0.00000126 grams of methamphetamine.
“The Constitutional Court established that a term of five to eight years in prison for possession of a non-consumable quantity of a narcotic drug is a degrading and inhuman punishment,” said GYLA lawyer Giorgi Gotsiridze.
The Constitutional Court ruled that the quantity of drugs suitable for use should be determined by the judge examining the specific drug case based on evidence or testimony from the drug specialist.
In Georgia, many public organizations have long fought for a liberalisation of drug policy in Georgia.
In July 2018, they managed to reach a decision in the Constitutional Court on the legalization of the use of marijuana, but its storage and cultivation is still administratively and criminally punishable.
Criminal punishment for possession and sale of hard drugs also remains.