Marijuana Legalization - Constitutional Court Explains

Georgia’s Constitutional Court says the recent statements of certain political and religious groups regarding their decision on marijuana consumption aims at discrediting the institution and harms the image of the court.

The Constitutional Court released a statement in response to the politicians, clergymen and organizations that had slammed it for abolishing the administrative punishment for marijuana consumption on July 30.

The statement reads that the court did not legalize marijuana, as reported by various media and religious organizations, but abolished the administrative punishment for its consumption.

It says according to the media reports, the Constitutional Court and its members were subjected to pressure and because of this legalized marijuana. The court explains that this assessment is far from the content of the court decision and is a misinterpretation.

“As a result of the decision made by the Constitutional Court on July 30, 2018, the administrative responsibility for marijuana use, if it does not create any threat to third parties, was declared unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court also stated in its decision that imposing responsibility for the use of marijuana is in accordance with the Constitution in cases where the particular case of consumption creates threats to third parties,” the statement reads.

The Constitutional Court calls on the public to show more responsibility when evaluating the performance of the court and to criticize it based on factual circumstances.

“The Constitutional Court of Georgia will continue to carry out constitutional control and constant protection of human constitutional rights,” the statement reads, in response to those clerics who demanded the abolition of the court.

Last week, Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II stated those who pushed for drug legalization exercised hostility towards the nation. He also claimed that the decision was made under political pressure.

“If we allow drugs, we should allow the drug trade and drug production too. This will lead young people from neighboring countries to come to Georgia, which will turn our country into a drug hub,” he stressed.

The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) decided to work on regulations which will impose certain restrictions on marijuana consumption.

The Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze, stated fast steps are needed to establish a healthy lifestyle in the country and create new rehabilitation centers for drug-addicts.

Meanwhile, Davit Sergeenko, Minister of IDPs, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, noted that the court decision had created a negative reality in the country and the legislative and executive authorities “need to move fast to avoid the negative repercussions of this decision.”

According to the Chairman of the Education, Science and Culture Committee of Parliament, Mariam Jashi, the Constitutional Court has put society at “high risk.” She says it is necessary to immediately introduce certain regulations.

“We have the reality that today there is absolutely no control over the use of marijuana, including its realization and possibly its production too. Consequently, we should immediately take measures that will bring the current situation into a regulatory framework,” she stated.

The NGOs say regulations are necessary but they should not shadow the court’s decision regarding the abolition of punishment for marijuana consumption.

They say if Parliament adopts the changes, they should refer to the age limit and conditions of consumption and not to the prohibition of its usage.

It is expected that the Interagency Council for Combating Drugs will work on certain regulations and present them to the parliament in September, during the autumn session.

By Thea Morrison

13 August 2018 15:39