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One more victim of Marijuana criminalization in Tbilisi

Drug Policy Georgia

Levan Jorbenadze
Legal Advisor/Attorney
July 21, 2013

A young, 36 years old male Mamuka Mikautadze committed suicide after police interrogation on marijuana charges. He was arrested in Tbilisi when his friend approached by car to give him some marijuana as a gift.

Both persons were taken at the main Tbilisi police division. According to the official testimony on July 5 2013 Mamuka confessed against his friend who brought him marijuana. It was also reported the he was threatened with 9 years of imprisonments. Right after the interrogation at the next day on July 6 he was found hanging from a rope in tree near the Tbilisi Sea.

“You will have to live and raise children alone because after such a fact I will

not be able to continue living" – the words that he said to his wife, which was reported by media. In addition he said to his family and friends that he was subject to inhuman and degrading treatment during the police interrogation.

According to the alternative independent forensic examination there were bruises found on Mamuka’s face, which once again confirmed the version of some mistreatment at the police main department. 

On July 16, 2013 the Ministry of Internal Affairs denied any allegations and misconduct of police and released the official investigation case files to the public. According to the national forensic conclusion there were no sign of a physical injury on the face of Mamuka Mikautadze but injury to the neck, which caused Mikautadze’s death, were found on the body. Thus, the General Inspection at the Ministry of Internal Affairs concluded that there were no signs of physical pressure against Mamuka Mikautadze from the criminal police officers.  

The investigation is still underway. There are versions on the causes of suicide whether police, some stereotypic dumb attitudes in the communities, ‘criminal authorities’ and etc., but the root of all these human tragedies are the senseless criminalization of drugs including marijuana and no pragmatic approach to these issues. According to the current legislation of Georgia there are no distinction of soft and hard drugs neither in theory nor it is in practice. The drug charges are extremely unreasonable which up to life imprisonment. The only distinctions are in quantities of drugs but not in line with the reality.

On June 2, 2013 the first such scale marijuana rally “2.06” held in Tbilisi made history, organized via social network - facebook. The public demanded decriminalization of marijuana with one of the points that in the 21st century a state prosecution of users unacceptable for a civilized world. Recently speaking at the press conference Minister of Health on May 10 pointed out to distinguishing marijuana from other drugs. He added the issue required a "well-considered strategy" and said the legalization of marijuana could be a part of it. At almost same time the president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili said that during his political party leadership it was a stupidity to arrest people for marijuana.

The current legislation of Georgia allows the de facto decriminalization of all types of drugs but there is still no political will to implement pragmatic drug policy and save human life, protect public health and interests of Georgian society. 

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