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Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee Backs Repealing Imprisonment for Marijuana Use
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 29 Sep.'15 / 16:50

The parliamentary committee for legal affairs has endorsed a proposal to repeal imprisonment as a punishment for the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana.

The decision comes three months after the same proposal was also backed by the human rights committee, increasing the chance for the bill to be endorsed by parliament.

Under Georgian law, the possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use, without the intent to sell, is an administrative offense punishable with GEL 500 fine.

Repeated offense carries sanction of either fine, community service or up to one year imprisonment.

Georgia’s justice system differentiates between administrative offenses, which are misdemeanors, and criminal offenses.

The proposal falls short of an original bill, sponsored by former UNM and currently independent lawmaker Goga Khachidze, which called for a full decriminalization of possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana; that implies a complete removal of this clause from the criminal code.

But like the human rights committee three months ago, the legal affairs committee supported keeping the offense in the criminal code on September 29, but it agreed to remove imprisonment from the list of punishments.

In order to be confirmed by parliament, the bill requires the support of a majority of lawmakers who will be present at a session when the bill is put on vote, but no less than 50 MPs.

A group of activists united in a movement that is known as “June 2” has been campaigning for decriminalization of marijuana for last couple of years. Every year on June 2, since 2013, rallies are held in Tbilisi and some other cities of the country with this demand.

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