Georgia, the country in the Caucasus region that lies near the Black Sea, has moved a step closer to joining the likes of Canada and Uruguay in becoming the next nation to legalize cannabis. Georgia has (sort of) legalized cannabis as a result of action from the Constitutional Court. The Court moved to abolish all administrative penalties (i.e., fines and punishment) as they pertain to marijuana. But that doesn’t mean pot lovers will be flocking to Georgia soon: the law does not allow for the sale or the cultivation of marijuana.
How Georgia Legalized Cannabis
Political activists changed the law. Plaintiffs Zurab Japaridze and Vakhtang Megrelishvili fought for it on the grounds that marijuana use was not a risk to others but rather a personal decision. The lawsuit stated, in part, “(Marijuana) can only harm the health of the consumer who is responsible for the results of the action.”
The Court, which consisted of four judges, agreed with the plaintiffs’ findings that cannabis was in no way a societal plague. In their ruling, they stated,
“According to the applicants, the consumption of marijuana is not an act of social threat. In particular, it can only harm the users’ health, making that user him/herself responsible for the outcome. The responsibility for such actions does not cause dangerous consequences for the public.”
Of course, some pot proponents might take offense to the above language, arguing that marijuana doesn’t harm anyone’s health. But the jury – both the good and bad of it – is still out. Besides, that’s not the point. The point is that someone’s preference for pot, and whether or not they consume it, has nothing to do with the health of others. Saying it does is like arguing that the man at the bar drinking his third scotch on the rocks is somehow hurting your liver.
Even so, the Court did find exceptions to their ruling and instances where consuming cannabis could potentially hurt those nearby. Some examples of this given include consuming marijuana near children, on public transit, and inside schools or other educational facilities.
The decision is not surprising: Georgia has been headed in this direction since they decriminalized pot last year in November, reducing fines to no more than 200 dollars and punishment to no more than one to six months of corrective work.
When that ruling took place, the Court stated harsh punishment (for the consumption of weed) was not constitutional. But the Court didn’t go as far as to tell the government to butt out (or bud out) until now. Cannabis use in private settings is hereby protected.
Happiness Among Activists
The plaintiffs who got the joint rolling were understandably in a celebratory mood following the ruling. Japaridze acknowledged all those who worked for the change, stating, “I would like to congratulate everybody on the decision made by the Constitutional Court.” He also coupled the lawsuit with personal liberty, adding, “This wasn’t a fight for cannabis; this was a fight for freedom.”
Japaridze is well known in Georgian political circles. He is the leader of the New Political Centre – Girchi Party and says he will run for president this October. If he wins, he promises sweeping changes across the nation, especially those that focus on personal liberty.
Georgia is now the most liberal country (in terms of cannabis) in the post-Soviet arena. And it might become even more so: there is a bill presently in Parliament that would decriminalize the possession of all drugs. They’ve been among the more open-minded nations (as far as drugs are concerned) for quite a while, especially in regard to weed. A marijuana freedom rally takes place every year in Tbilisi, the capital city.