Georgia decriminalizes use and possession of up to 100 grams of raw cannabis
Georgia’s constitutional court decriminalized on February 15 possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, upholding a local district court’s motion to invalidate provisions of article 260 of the criminal code envisaging imprisonment as penalty for the offence.
The constitutional court has weighed in on the decriminalisation issue before. Last October, it supported musician Beka Tsikarishvili’s lawsuit against the state, ruling that a prison sentence for someone who had been found to possess less than 70 grams of cannabis was unconstitutional. Tsikarishvili had been arrested for use and possession of cannabis in 2013 and released on bail after spending 18 days in custody. The charges brought against him made him liable to 7 to 11 years in jail, and he appealed against them in the constitutional court.
The latest ruling stipulates that possession of 100 grams of cannabis must not be punished with imprisonment if the weed is raw. 100 grams of raw cannabis is the same as 50 grams of dried cannabis, the court argued.
- Until now, first-time use of cannabis has been punished with a fine of 500 GEL (about 200 USD), while repeated offences carried a prison sentence of up to two years. A prison term of up to 11 years has been punishment for possession and distribution of cannabis.
- Georgia has long been divided on whether use of cannabis should be decriminalised. Rallies demanding adoption by the country of more liberal drug policies have been here on and off.
- Only 12 pot-use-related hospital admissions were registered in 2016.
- Up to 50,000 people are tested for drugs yearly in Georgia.
- 17 million GEL (around 6,5 million USD) has been spent on the drug abuse tests over the past seven years. 35 percent of the tests yielded positive results.
It all started with the arrest of 28-year-old Beka Tsikarishvili. JAMnews article and photos on the issue is here