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Georgian Parliament Postpones Debate On Cannabis Cultivation Bill

Activists gather during a rally in support of marijuana legalization in central Tbilisi.
Activists gather during a rally in support of marijuana legalization in central Tbilisi.

The Georgian parliament has postponed debate on a bill that would legalize the production of marijuana, putting it on a back burner until after a presidential election that is less than three weeks away.

A parliament resolution issued on October 9 said discussion of the proposed legislation, part of a push to relax laws governing marijuana in the South Caucasus country, will resume in two months.

Citing lawmakers and politicians, media report that the delay is intended to separate the controversial issue from the campaign for the October 28 presidential election.

The influential Georgian Orthodox Church has long voiced opposition to the bill, calling on lawmakers to scrap it entirely.

In July, the Constitutional Court abolished administrative punishment for the consumption of marijuana, making Georgia the first former Soviet republic to legalize its use. But growing and selling marijuana are still crimes.

The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by activists from the opposition Girchi party after the Constitutional Court, in November 2017, decriminalized the use of marijuana or other forms of cannabis-based drugs.

That ruling preserved administrative punishment, such as a fine, for marijuana use.

Before that, Georgia's Criminal Code defined repetitive use of marijuana and possession of more than 70 grams of dried cannabis as a crime for which individuals could face punishment but not imprisonment.

Girchi has led a drive to legalize marijuana since November 2016, saying at the time that it would fight for complete decriminalization of marijuana.

Based on reporting by and