Published: 19 Dec 2018 | By Giorgi Gogia
The severe toll of abusive drug laws in Georgia
Overly punitive drug laws in Georgia and their aggressive enforcement is causing severe and unjustifiable harm. Drug prosecutions for consumption and possession often lead to disproportionately long prison sentences and prohibitive fines against people who have not harmed others, but who acquired small amounts of drugs for personal, recreational use. Furthermore, arbitrary additional punishments, such as stripping people convicted on drug-related crimes of their driver’s licences or prohibiting them from working in an array of professions interferes with their ability to earn livelihoods and contributes to their further marginalisation in society.
Although the Georgian Government has partially liberalised its drug policies since 2012, they remain harsh. The criminal justice system continues to treat most drug consumption or possession for personal use as a criminal felony, with severe consequences. The report released by Human Rights Watch in August 2018, Harsh Punishment: The Human Toll of Georgia’s Abusive Drug Policies, documented the human costs of these policies, and called on the authorities to decriminalise personal use and possession of drugs, which means removing all criminal sanctions for use and possession of drugs for personal use.