In response to a lawsuit brought by political activists and cannabis advocates, Georgia’s Constitutional Court ruled that “consumption of marijuana is an action protected by the right to a person’s free development” and that citizens can no longer incur penalties for cannabis possession.
This ruling makes Georgia “the first country in the post-Soviet space” to legalize cannabis consumption, said Zurab Japaridz, the leader of Girchi, one of the opposition political parties and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“This wasn’t a fight for cannabis, this was a fight for freedom,” said Japaridze, per OC Media, an English-language news site in Georgia.
The lawsuit argued that the use of cannabis was a personal decision that did not put others at risk, to which a panel of four judges agreed, with some exceptions.
The panel ruled that there are situations wherein cannabis consumption affects those in proximity of the user.
“For instance, the Court will justify responsibility when marijuana is consumed in educational institutions, public places, such as on public transport, and in the presence of children,” according to the court.
While the ruling eliminates fines for cannabis consumption, it does not legalize cultivation or sale in this county of 4 million, which that sits on the shores of the Black Sea in the Caucasus region, at the crossroads of western Asia and Eastern Europe.
A bill that would decriminalize possession of all drugs is currently being debated in the country’s parliament.
This decision essentially puts Georgia in the category with only two countries in the world: Canada and Uruguay, which have legalized recreational cannabis.
After the court’s decision, Japaridze recognized the activists who made the lawsuit possible.
“I would like to congratulate everybody on the decision made by the Constitutional Court,” Japaridze said. “Through this decision, Georgia became a freer country. Administrative punishment for consumption of marijuana was revoked by the Constitutional Court, which means that consumption of marijuana in Georgia is now legal.”