Public Defender Echoes Bill on Liberalization of Drug Policy

The Public Defender is echoing the legislative amendments submitted to the Parliament of Georgia by the Drug Policy National Platform, which aims to replace the repressive drug policy with more liberal and balanced policy. The Public Defender of Georgia welcomes the main spirit of the package of the legislative amendments developed by the Drug Policy National Platform. The Public Defender has an active cooperation with the Drug Policy National Platform in the field of liberalization of the drug policy.

The Public Defender has been talking about the dire consequences of the repressive and inhumane drug policy and the need for making systemic changes. The Public Defender has been fighting against the vicious practice of the drug policy within the framework of his mandate for years. On June 15, 2016, the Public Defender addressed the Constitutional Court in order to check the constitutionality of the inhumane penalty of detention for drug use, while on November 20, 2015, the Public Defender filed a constitutional suit with the Constitutional Court regarding the legality of the so-called street drug testing.

The proposed initiative provides for decriminalization of the use of all kinds of drugs, purchase and storage of small amounts of drugs, cultivation of plants containing narcotic substances. The Public Defender fully shares this approach.

The Public Defender considers that the use of any drugs and/or other psychotropic substances and/or purchase, possession and production of a relatively small amount of drugs for personal consumption should not be punished by detention. In his constitutional suit of 15 June 2016, the Public Defender of Georgia requested full decriminalization of the consumption of drugs and possession of a small amount of drugs. The Public Defender considers that it is necessary the country to pursue humane drug policy and spend more resources on rehabilitation and treatment rather than on punishment.

The Public Defender also shares the idea of amending the rule of compulsory drug testing. Random drug testing on the street, which has been mentioned by the Public Defender in the parliamentary reports for years, contradicts the Constitution, and intensively and gravely damages the person's right to freedom and dignity, the right to a fair trial, the principle of not testifying against oneself, and international standards. In response to this problem, the Public Defender of Georgia filed a constitutional claim with the Constitutional Court on November 20, 2015, and requested declaration of specific legal acts as unconstitutional.

The initiative proposed by the legislative package to define the small amount of narcotic substance is particularly important, the absence of which is a serious problem, which leads to the application of absolutely disproportional prison sentences.

It is necessary to amend the legislation regulating the so-called new psychoactive substances for the purpose of mitigating disproportionate sentences.

Based on the abovementioned, we consider that the proposed legislative amendments will positively affect the legal and social situation of drug users. Accordingly, the Public Defender of Georgia calls on the Parliament of Georgia to change the existing inhumane and repressive drug policy in the country. In addition, the Public Defender expresses his readiness to engage and participate in the process of consideration of the legislative initiative and submit opinions for the improvement of certain provisions in the draft law.

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