They came with bags full of cups of urine and left them in a heart shape for the prime minister to see. But this protest in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, against drug testing was not about lifestyle choices. Rather, the scores of protesters are part of a growing movement seeking the decriminalization of marijuana as a civil right.
Unlike in the United States, nobody in this conservative South-Caucasus state is touting the benefits of marijuana for medical use; nor does a campaign exist to legalize pot. The fight in Georgia is about perceived excessive punishments for marijuana possession.
In Georgia, as in some Western countries, marijuana use or possession ranks as a criminal offense. Third-time offenders can receive a seven- to 14-year jail term that is almost as long as the terms for murder (seven to 15 years).
The government, which makes no official distinction between marijuana and hard drugs, so far has been reluctant to change sentencing guidelines.
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