Aug. 1 (UPI) — Georgia became the first former Soviet republic to legalize marijuana after a constitutional court abolished administrative punishments for its use on Monday.
Consumption of marijuana will no longer be a crime, but cultivating and selling it will remain against the law, Radio Free Europe reported.
Before the ruling, Georgians faced a fine if caught consuming marijuana. Last year, the court decriminalized marijuana use — a significant change in a country where two possession offenses within 12 months could have resulted in a 14-year prison sentence.
But Georgia has undergone a rapid liberalization of marijuana laws in recent months. And the basis for the court’s ruling on Monday was that consumption of marijuana did not pose a risk to anybody but the user.
“According to the applicants [Zurab Japaridze and Vakhtang Megrelishvili], the consumption of marijuana is not an act of social threat. In particular, it can only harm the user’s health, making that user him/herself responsible for the outcome. The responsibility for such actions does not cause dangerous consequences for the public,” the ruling stated.
The court added: “The Constitutional Court highlights the imposition of responsibility of marijuana consumption when it creates a threat to third parties. 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.”
Japaridze, one of the applicants who brought forth the lawsuit, praised the court’s ruling.
“Through this decision, Georgia became a freer country,” he said, according to Georgia Today.