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Constitutional Court Bans Sanctions for Personal Use of Marijuana

The Constitutional Court of Georgia declared unconstitutional the provision of the administrative code, which imposes financial and other non-custodial sanctions for non-prescribed use of marijuana.

The lawsuit was filed by Zurab Japaridze and Vakhtang Megrelishvili of the New Political Center (NPC) – Girchi, a libertarian political party in Georgia, who challenged article 45 of the administrative code relying on article 16 of the Constitution of Georgia.

The two argued in their complaint that use of marijuana does not pose risk to public order and can only be detrimental to one’s individual health. Hence, applying sanctions “carry no valuable public interest.”

The Parliament of Georgia – the case respondent – argued that the goal of the disputed provision was “to protect the well-being of the entire society and to ensure public order.” It also stressed that use of marijuana could be detrimental to one’s health, particularly to adolescents.

The Court agreed in its July 30 ruling that restrictions on use of marijuana, as a means to eliminate its distribution, “serves the legitimate purpose of protecting the well-being of users,” but added that use of marijuana is an action “guaranteed by the right of free self-development,” and that threats emanating from individual use “are very minimal.”

“Therefore, blanket restrictions on use of marijuana are not proportionate to achieving the legitimate purpose and come in contradiction to article 16 of the Constitution of Georgia,” the Court said.

The Constitutional Court also ruled that restriction on use of marijuana is in line with the Constitution, when it “poses threat to third persons,” including in educational facilities, public transport, in presence of adolescents etc.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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