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Imprisonment for Purchase and Keeping of Marijuana is Unconstitutional

Drug Policy Georgia

Levan Jorbenadze
Legal Advisor/Attorney
October 25, 2015

On October 24, 2015 in the case of Beka Tsikarishvili v. Parliament (application 592) the Constitutional Court of Georgia declared as unconstitutional the imprisonment for purchase and keeping of marijuana for personal use. The court ruled that imposing such punishment is mainly a torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

On October 24 the Constitutional Court made a big and progressive step for changing the repressive drug policy of Georgia and took a heavy burden out of the society, which in general one more time highlighted Georgia’s rank in democratic index in the region and at an international level.    

According to the official website of the Constitutional Court where the information published on 24 October 2015 the court notes that purchase and keeping of 70 grams of marijuana for which the applicant is charged cannot be indicative towards the purposes of sale or its real intent, and imposing the imprisonment amounts to torture,

cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment confronting the Article 17 of the Constitution. Article 17 § 2 of Georgian Constitution provide: “No one shall be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment”.

The Court further notes that current legislation considers 50-500 grams of marijuana as a large amount. The Court considers that keeping 70 grams of dry marijuana do not represent such an amount which might indicate to the intention of sale of drug.  The court noted that legislature have an obligation to form such provisions which will enable a judge to find the fact if there is an intention of sale during purchase or keeping of marijuana or probability of such an intention and finally impose the imprisonment only in the case of established intention of sale.  

It is worth mention that this marijuana judgment coincided to a period when the Constitutional Court perceived in society as an angry one and confronting with parliament which is the result of the Court’s previous 16 September 2015 judgment in the case the former Tbilisi mayor George Ugulava v. Parliament. This judgment enabled one day freedom to George Ugulava, who has corruption charges and is imprisoned. After that judgment of the Constitutional Court, on the one hand the majority MPs from the ruling party, among them the chairman of parliament and on the other the chairman of the Constitutional Court made confronting statements against one another.  

The Constitutional Court has not released an official judgment yet, which abolishes the use of imprisonment for purchase and keeping of marijuana without the intention of sale, which will enable the public more important and positive details to know, but it should be also mentioned that the Court did not rule on the decriminalization of marijuana because it was not a subject of the dispute and a claim in this case.





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