Georgia turns into "drug paradise"

Georgia turns into "drug paradise"

Following the decision of the Constitutional Court (CC), Georgia became the first and only country in the Caucasus to fully legalize marijuana. It is unlikely that any of the neighboring countries, including Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey will allow cannabis smoking. Although one of the high-ranking local officials in Armenia recently also expressed opinion that it would be good to abolish any punishment for "smoking weed".

After months of consideration, the Georgian Constitutional Court lifted the last obstacle to the legal consumption of marijuana. From now on, it can be smoked without fear of being fined - the court considered that even a weak regulation of the Code of Administrative Offenses, which provided for a fine of $200 dollars for smoking marijuana, is contrary to the Constitution.

Last November, the same court decriminalized "soft drugs" use. However, experts say that it is wrong to separate narcotic substances into "hard" and "soft" ones - marijuana causes a number of severe nervous and mental diseases. It causes real drug addiction and soon people switch to using cocaine and heroin. The only difference is that the latter cause a painful affection from the second or even the first injection.

Nevertheless, the Constitutional Court ruled that if a person smokes marijuana, he uses his sacred right to choose how to "relax," and concluded that restricting a person's right to smoke marijuana means violating his right to "free development". A reservation is made here: it refers to cases where a person "harms only his health," which is his right. But selling drugs (in any form), that is, "getting other people addicted" to it, is still a crime. In addition, smoking marijuana is prohibited in the presence of minors, as well as in schools, transport and public places.

Deputies from the Georgian Dream ruling party were shocked by the decisions of the Constitutional Court. They intend to use the aforementioned restrictions to narrow the areal for marijuana lovers as much as possible. If the Constitutional Court prohibits smoking "weed" in crowded places, then the situation, usual for Amsterdam, when marijuana can be bought and used in an ordinary cafe, is impossible for Georgia.

The former head of the State Chancellery, Petre Mamradze, told Vestnik Kavkaza that drug addiction, started with "weed consumption", killed entire generations of young people, broke hundreds of thousands of families, led to degradation and impoverishment, and worsened the crime situation."

The Constitutional Court's verdict turned out to be such unacceptable for Georgian politicians that the apparently irreconcilable enemies - Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement, the European Georgia party and the Georgian Dream party - have teamed up. All three parliamentary factions unanimously stated that the decision of the Constitutional Court does not mean immediate licence to smoke marijuana: at first, the legislators will bring the legislation into line with the verdict of the court, rework the legal acts, amend the criminal code and the code of administrative violations. It will take months.

But the problem is that, as the Georgian Dream MP Akaki Zoidze told journalists, the Constitutional Court's decision "took away a tool for combating drug addiction from the state." That is, any policeman can arrest a person for smoking or storing a dangerous potion, but the detainee's lawyers will immediately refer to the decision of the Constitutional Court, and the White Noise movement members, which advocates decriminalization and legalization of drugs, may start new mass protests in Georgian cities. They already held stormy actions in the spring after "anti-drug raids" in several city nightclubs. It is easy to imagine how much their arguments will strengthen after the decision of the country's highest court.

Another aspect of the problem is the attitude of neighboring countries. Drug addiction, drug trafficking and drug distribution are considered a global disaster, but there is no slightest indication that those who took a fateful decision in Georgia were interested in the position of neighboring states on this issue.


Vestnik Kavkaza

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