After marijuana initiatives were approved in eight more American states, Georgia, a former Soviet republic, has begun openly demanding weed decriminalization. Georgian drug policy has not been changed since the Soviet occupation, but the recent events overseas inspired the country residents to fight for their rights.
The whole world kept an eye on the November voting in the U.S., and the marijuana question had the second priority after the new president. Inspired by the voting results, a cannabis revolution is now escalating in Georgia, a country located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and West Asia.
Currently, Georgia imposes severe punishments for possessing and distributing weed; they range from a $200 fine to eleven years in prison. Cannabis advocates claim that such a strict legal approach causes more harm to people than the marijuana itself.
While the Georgian cannabis movement has previously been peaceful and confined to oral demands, now weed supporters are taking active measures. Zurab Japaridze, the leader of Girchi, the local liberal-centrist opposition party, has recently given an ultimatum to the country’s government. He demanded weed decriminalization regarding personal use and possession. Otherwise, Japaridze promised that the Girchi party members would publicly grow a marijuana plant in their office at the beginning of the following year.
Leading one of the most unprecedented movements in the Caucasus region, Japaridze considers legal access to weed as a part of human rights. He is sure that people should be the ones responsible for what they are putting into their own bodies.
In August, White Noise came into confrontation with the police in the Georgian town of Samtredia that was caused by Demur Sturua's suicide death. This 22-year old guy explained in his death note that police threatened him bodily harm unless he acted as a criminal witness and provided information about marijuana growers.
The police officer blamed for the incident was put on the wanted list, but locals claimed that police systematically forced youth to cooperate with them. However, cannabis activists from White Noise and other non-government organizations put the blame on the harsh drug legislation in Georgia.
According to Japairidze, the Ministry of Internal Affairs put pressure on the local police to support the Soviet-style approach of marijuana ban. This drug policy allows MIA to keep hundreds of thousands of people who consume cannabis in fear.
However, cannabis legalization in the U.S. encourages Georgian marijuana advocates who believe that this will positively affect weed decriminalization in their country. Now, debating his opponents about cannabis, Japairidze has new proof that in a civilized world marijuana disputes end up in legalization.
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