Georgia’s Constitutional Court has ruled that all punishments for cannabis consumption, including fines, be immediately abolished.

The court’s ruling – which took place on July 30 - was effective immediately, meaning it is now the law.

The only exception to this, according to the Court, is if the cannabis consumption is perceived to cause direct harm to a third party. The Court stated that cannabis use could still be punished if “it is conducted in [educational] institutions, in some public places, for example in public transport, [or] in the presence of juveniles”.

It remains illegal to cultivate or supply cannabis in any circumstances.

The case was filed in the Court by Zurab Japaridze, leader of the Girchi political party. Japaridze lauded the ruling for making Georgia the first former-Soviet country to permit cannabis consumption, OC Media reports.

“This wasn’t a fight for cannabis”, he said, “This was a fight for freedom”.

As TalkingDrugs has previously reported, cannabis use was decriminalised in Georgia in November 2017. While this decision ended the criminalisation and imprisonment of people for cannabis use, someone caught smoking the drug could still face a fine of up to GEL 500 ($204).

Prior to this, cannabis offences were met with harsh punishments in Georgia. An amendment to the Georgian Criminal Code in 2006 led to the possession of a small quantity of cannabis being punished by up to 11 years in prison, while possessing a large quantity could be punished by between seven and 14 years. In 2015, amendments reduced these punishments to six years for a small quantity, and between five and eight years for a large quantity.