The Georgian Interior Ministry released the presidential candidate, founder and leader of the libertarian Girchi party, Zurab Japaridze, who was detained as part of the investigation of drug distribution and drug propaganda criminal cases. Together with the presidential candidate, several other party activists were arrested and later released, as well as marijuana lovers who attended the widely-announced cannabis legalization festival.
Zurab Japaridze and his associates, some of whom are real fanatics who consider drug use “a sacred human right to choose”, have been urging citizens to visit the festival at the children’s Dedaena Park for the whole past week. Holding the festival in this park was a deliberate challenge to society, since Japaridze believes that the cannabis legalization in Georgia is hampered not only by the authorities, but also by the “medieval, fascist conservatism of society”.
Yesterday, the number of police officers was no less in the park than the number of participants, and slightly more than the number of journalists. Dozens of cameras were recording what is happening in the center of the capital, which is full of tourists, including from Russia. Japaridze was going to “publicly give out cannabis cigarettes in protest against repressive drug policies.” The police detained him several minutes later after he did it. But it is unprofitable to launch the criminal case and make specific accusations against the detainees – the arrest of the presidential candidate could be interpreted as an attempt by the Interior Ministry to influence the election campaign on the eve of the October 28 vote.
But it does not solve the main problem,pointed out by Japaridze during his еpatage demonstration: recently the Georgian Constitutional Court lifted any sanctions for the use of “soft drugs”, legalizing their use. If recently people were not able to smoke weed, now they cannot even be fined. However, the ruling party and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which are categorically opposed to the legalization and decriminalization of drugs, found a “creative way out” to bypass the Constitutional Court’s verdict without directly violating it: the distribution of cannabis (even for free) is still a criminal offense. In addition, it is forbidden to smoke in all public places; transportation in any volume is also punished. In fact, cannabis lovers can “relax” (this formulation was a key one in the decision of the Constitutional Court) only being at home. It turns out that the state no longer considers cannabis a crime, but it does not recognize any legal ways of acquiring soft drugs and does not offer alternative methods, like in the Netherlands, where you can legally buy soft drugs in some cafes.
According to Japaridze, he wanted to show with his public demonstration how absurd the situation is: what’s the point of allowing cannabis smoking at home, if there are no legal ways to purchase, store and transport it? But the position of the Georgian Dream ruling party is unshakable and enjoys the support of the absolute majority of society, because drug addiction has become a real national disaster in the country since the 1970s.