Georgia’s High Court Rules Imprisonment for Cannabis Possession is Unconstitutional
In the case of Beka Tsikarishvili v. Parliament (application 592), the Constitutional Court of Georgia has ruled that it’s unconstitutional to imprison someone for purchasing and possessing cannabis for personal use.
In 2013, Beka Tsikarish was arrested and charged for purchasing and having in her possession 65 grams of cannabis. The court ruled that imprisoning her violates Article 17 § 2 of Georgia’s Constitution, which states that; “No one shall be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment”.
In Georgia, the country considers anything over 50 grams to be for distribution purposes, which led to Tsikarish being charged with felony cannabis distribution (punishable by 7 to 14 years in prison). The Court ruled that 70 grams does not represent an amount which guarantees someone was intending to sell it, meaning she can’t be charged with distribution. Since Tsikarish can’t be charged with distribution, the court ruled that imprisoning her is unconstitutional as she was possessing the cannabis simply for personal use.
The court noted that the nation’s legislature has an obligation to establish legal provisions that would give judges the ability to fully determine whether cannabis is possessed with the intent to sale, or whether it’s for personal use.
In the meantime, this ruling sets precedent across the country, making it illegal for someone to be imprisoned for possessing cannabis if it’s not clearly deemed for distribution purposes.