Responding to Civil.ge query, the Georgian Interior Ministry has confirmed that the government is considering licensing of cultivation and production of medical cannabis for export, stressing that “the sale of marijuana inside the country will remain a criminal offense.”
The Ministry also said that it drafted legislative amendments that “puts the use of marijuana within strict legal frames and restricts its consumption at certain places.”
Georgian news agency IPN reported on September 11 that during the yesterday’s meeting at the ruling Georgian Dream party headquarters, the Interior Ministry officials briefed the majority MPs on the draft bill envisaging legalization of medical marijuana cultivation and production for export purposes.
The news agency also said that according to the draft, the production will be licensed through a bidding process. News agencies also speculated, based on unnamed sources, the GD founder and chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili supports the bill.
An unexpected turn
The matter of liberalisation of Georgia’s punitive drug policy has been a subject of a number of large scale protest rallies over the past years. The protesters demanded decriminalization of drug use and legalization of personal use.
Most recently, the rally was held in May, following a police crackdown on leading Tbilisi-based clubs Bassiani and Cafe Gallery, allegedly to curb drug sales and use there. Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia promised the protesters that the government would resume discussions on drug policy reforms.
On July 30, the Constitutional Court of Georgia declared unconstitutional the provision of the administrative code, which imposed financial and other non-custodial sanctions for non-prescribed use of marijuana. The court ruling has led to legalization of marijuana use in the country. The court, however, has left the room to legislators to regulate the consumption.
Zurab Japaridze, presidential candidate from the libertarian New Political Center (NPC)-Girchi, which champions the liberalisation of drug policy, told Civil.ge that use of marijuana is legal and if the Interior Ministry aims to uphold the Constitutional Court’s decision, it has nothing to do with either export, or medical cannabis.
“The use of marijuana is legal and there should be legal ways for obtaining legal substances. Marijuana production should become a usual business; it may be regulated but not monopolized,” Japaridze said.