Georgia, the country northeast of Turkey — not the state north of Florida — has made some significant changes to its cannabis legislation.
At the end of July, it became legal to consume marijuana in Georgia in most situations. But don’t start writing your business plan for a European coffee shop just yet. Georgia still has some stuff to figure out.
No More Administrative Penalties
Per a report by OC Media, the Constitutional Court of Georgia ruled at the end of July that the “consumption of cannabis is an action protected by the right to a person’s free development.” This means that, according to the nation’s four senior judges, punishing someone for consuming cannabis is against article 16 of the country’s constitution.
This ruling made the consumption of cannabis legal, freeing users from the risk of fines or other penalties.
What’s Been Legalized?
While marijuana consumption has been legalized in Georgia, cultivation and sales have not. Entrepreneurs seeing the opportunity to open a dispensary or coffee shop might have to wait a bit longer.
Also, it’s still possible to get a fine in certain situations, like when a third person can be put at risk by the consumer. This includes smoking inside a school or on a bus, for example.
Why Has Consumption Become Legal?
In November 2017, the Constitutional Court reduced the punishment for possession to either a fine of no more than $200 or a few months of “corrective work.” This ruling came after non-parliamentary opposition party Girchi claimed that it was “unconstitutional to criminally prosecute people for consuming cannabis.”
The same party, Girchi, filed another suit in order to put a stop to all types of punishment for marijuana consumption, even the $200 fine or the months of corrective work. This suit resulted in the Constitutional Court’s recent legalizing consumption.
What’s the Next Step?
The Constitutional Court can’t create a policy for the cultivation and sales of marijuana. As a result, it’s the role of Georgia’s government to draft new laws and regulations that will allow people to obtain marijuana from safe suppliers.
As long as cultivation remains illegal in Georgia, it’s impossible to guarantee the safety of the product available to consumers — thus posing a public health risk. Legalizing all the necessary steps, from cultivation to consumption, would allow more quality control and more consumer safety.