Georgia's Constitutional Court bans imprisonment for personal use of marijuana

Wed 28 October 2015 13:25 GMT | 17:25 Local Time

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The Georgian Constitutional Court ruled on Saturday that applying imprisonment as a punishment for purchasing and possessing up to 70 grams of marijuana for personal use is unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court said that the amount of marijuana (up to 70gr), for purchasing and possessing of which the applicant was facing criminal charges and potential imprisonment, does not imply in itself that the person had an intention to sell it. Therefore, the Constitutional Court said, imprisonment as a type of punishment in such cases amounts to “inhuman and cruel treatment that infringes upon human dignity” and is in conflict with the second part of article 17 of the constitution, civil.ge reports.

The Constitutional Court said that its decision does not mean decriminalization of marijuana and it neither applies to the cases where the obvious purpose of possessing of marijuana, regardless of its amount, is to sell it.

The application, which was seeking repealing imprisonment as a punishment for possession of marijuana for personal use, was filed by Beka Tsikarishvili, who is facing criminal charges for possession of 69gr of marijuana – that is classified by the Georgian legislation as “large amount”.

Tbilisi-based Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), which was providing legal counsel to the applicant, said the Constitutional Court’s ruling means that Tsikarishvili, or anyone else facing similar charges of buying or possessing marijuana in an amount of up to 70 gr for personal use, will no longer be imprisoned even if found guilty. It, however, does not apply to the cases of selling marijuana.

“For those, who have already been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment in similar cases, the Constitutional Court’s ruling represents a legal basis for appealing common court for the purpose of reviewing their cases,” EMC said.

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