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Republic of Georgia Constitutional Court decriminalizes marijuana usage

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Georgia [official website, in Georgian] on Thursday decriminalized [press release, in Georgian] marijuana usage.

The suit was brought in opposition to article 273 [text, PDF] of the Georgia criminal code, which punished marijuana usage without a doctor's prescription. The suit referenced article 16 of the Constitution of Georgia, which grants the right to free personality. The article imposes fines, jail time or socially useful labor onto people who use marijuana without doctor permission. The court removed criminal liability from marijuana and other cannabis based drugs.

The court determined that the right to choose to use marijuana is protected by the autonomy of the person. The court recognized that it may be harmful to health, but deemed it less dangerous to public interest. Ultimately, the court decided the law punished citizens for engaging in behavior that was hazardous to their health which is not compatible with a free society.

The ruling, however, does not apply to the selling, distributing or creating of marijuana, which is still criminalized under the criminal code of the Republic of Georgia.

The suit was supported by the non-parliamentary opposition party [Georgia Today report], which hopes that the court's decision will lead to the legalization of marijuana.

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