Judgement of the Constitutional Court of Georgia on the Constitutional Complaint N1282
On 30 July 2018 the Constitutional Court of Georgia granted constitutional complaint N1282 of Georgian citizens, Zurab Japaridze and Vakhtang Megrelishvili, and declared unconstitutional the provision of the Administrative Offences Code of Georgia (Article 45) that set administrative responsibility for non-prescribed use of marijuana.
The complainants argued that the use of marijuana does not threaten public order and can only be detrimental to one’s individual health. It was submitted that an individual should be allowed to use marijuana freely and bear the health risks on their own. Thus, applying sanctions carry no valuable public interest.
The respondent, the Parliament of Georgia, contended that the disputed provision served the legitimate objective of protecting the well-being of an individual and of the entire society, as well as ensuring the public order. It was further argued by the Parliament that the use of marijuana is detrimental to one’s health and there is a need to ensure the public, particularly adolescents, are protected.
The Constitutional Court emphasised that the use of marijuana is protected by the constitutional right to free development of one’s personality as guaranteed by the Article 16 of the Constitution of Georgia. The Court noted that a ban on the use of marijuana as a means to prevent its distribution serves the legitimate goal of protecting the well-being of users. Nevertheless, the role of an individual user in the distribution of marijuana and threats emanating from an individual use are very minimal. Therefore, the Court found that blanket restriction on the use of marijuana is not proportionate to achieving the legitimate purpose and hence violates the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court further noted that responsibility on use of marijuana is in line with the Constitution, when under specific circumstances, an individual use of marijuana poses threat to third persons, e.g. in educational facilities, public transport, in presence of adolescents etc.