History of CBD and Cannabis In – Georgia
The past few years have seen a massive wave of change when it comes to cannabis laws across the world. Indeed, it seems as if you cannot turn on the news without reading about a new effort to legalize access to marijuana. These changes have occurred for a variety of reasons, including a massive shift of public opinion and varying political and legal efforts to change the law.
These changes are perfectly personified by the changing legal status of marijuana in the country of Georgia, located in Europe and bordering Russia. The country had a strict anti-cannabis policy until a change in public opinion and a recent ruling by its Constitutional Court resulted in the legalization of marijuana possession and consumption.
History of Cannabis in Georgia
Georgia’s location – located at the border of Russia, Asia and Europe – have made it a natural spot for the trafficking of many drugs, including marijuana. Additionally, cultivation was relatively common in the country.
Prior to the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling, Georgia had very harsh marijuana laws. Individuals found possessing marijuana could be sentenced to jail for up to fourteen years, giving Georgia one of the toughest marijuana sentences in all of Europe. As recently as 2006, Georgia actually strengthened their marijuana laws, increasing penalties and fines.
Reform Efforts in Georgia
Efforts to reform Georgia’s cannabis laws started in 2013, with groups and advocates pushing for lighter sentences, decriminalization and full legalization. 2015 saw the creation of the White Noise movement, a group dedicated to decriminalizing marijuana in the country. The White Noise movement became one of the leading advocates of more liberal drug policies in Georgia, and it is thought that their efforts may have ultimately impacted the country’s Constitutional Court ruling.
Constitutional Court Decision & Current Status
Cannabis legalization ultimately came to Georgia by way of the country’s Constitutional Court. This came in the form of a series of separate rulings. First, in October 2015, the court ruled that jailing people for personal use of cannabis was too strict a punishment, saying these sentences needed to be relaxed . It dropped the hammer in December 2016, when it ruled that imprisonment for personal use of marijuana was unconstitutional. It also said that rules against purchasing, storing and using marijuana were unconstitutional. A ruling in 2018 said that using marijuana was legal as the only person being harmed was the individual smoking. However, it did rule that prison sentences could be given out if a third party was being harmed. As such, cultivation and sale would remain publishable.
This set up a system in Georgia in which users could legally own and smoke marijuana, but could not cultivate or sell it.
The ruling ultimately made Georgia the first country which was once part of the Soviet Union to legalize marijuana.