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Marijuana Sanctions Ban Prompts Calls for Abolishing Constitutional Court

The decision of the Constitutional Court of Georgia to outlaw administrative sanctions for non-prescribed use of marijuana, has earned the criticism of the Georgian Orthodox Church and has drawn mixed reactions from political parties.

Zurab Japaridze of the New Political Center – Girchi, who filed the constitutional lawsuit, hailed the court ruling in a news briefing yesterday, saying the decision was landmark and that it would make the country “a lot more free.”

“This makes Georgia the first country in the post-soviet space to legalize the use of marijuana completely, meaning that the people will no longer be penalized; there will no longer be any administrative sanctions,” Zurab Japaridze said.

Archpriest Andria Jagmaidze, a senior cleric in the Georgian Orthodox Church, commented on the court decision today, slamming it as “a betrayal to the nation.”

“Considering how low the youth awareness is about the negative effects of drug use, such easing can only be perceived as extremely negative,” the Archpriest noted, adding that the Constitutional Court “needs to be abolished entirely.”

“How can four judges of the Constitutional Court issue absolutely unclear decisions, ignore the will of four million people and agree completely harmful decisions based on their unclear logic,” Archpriest Jagmaidze told reporters.

Similar calls were voiced by Shalva Natelashvili, the leader and the presidential candidate of the opposition Labor Party. “As a society, we have agreed that sending people to jail for smoking marijuana is not right, but what the Constitutional Court decided yesterday was a historic crime,” Natelashvili quipped, adding that the Constitutional Court will be “dissolved, abolished and merged” with the common courts, if he wins the presidential race.

Some ruling party politicians seem to agree. MP Mirian Tsiklauri of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia told reporters today that the court decision was made by “irresponsible people,” and was equal to “betraying the nation and the state.”

“Four appointed judges should not have such powers; they have so much power that they can even annul election results,” Tsiklauri added. Asked whether he was in favor of abolishing the Constitutional Court, Tsiklauri said this was only a “tentative idea,” and that he had no “solid views” on the matter, but would “start thinking about it together with friends.”

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