In July, the marijuana legalization movement continued to spread in what might seem like a pretty unlikely place. The former Soviet Union country of Georgia passed a law for the legalization of cannabis stating that marijuana use is, “guaranteed by the right of free self-development.” It makes Georgia the first former Soviet country to legalize cannabis, but its overbearing neighbor is probably not all that happy about the development.
Georgia’s constitutional court ruled to legalize exclusively the consumption of cannabis in Georgia. People will not be allowed to grow or sell cannabis, but it is another step after the court ruled to decriminalize marijuana in 2017. The efforts of Zurab Japaridze were one of the catalysts for the court’s decision. A member of a political party called the Girchi party, he told reporters after the court’s decision that, “This wasn’t a fight for cannabis. This was a fight for freedom.”
The court’s perspective on the ruling in a nutshell is that it does not matter if cannabis is good or bad for a person’s health, but in fact that it is the individual’s right to choose what they do to themselves. There are certainly provisions to the law that still make cannabis consumption illegal such as consuming it in public or around children. The conflict between Georgia, North Ossetia, South Ossetia and Russia has been going on since the 1920’s. In the early 90’s the breakup of the Soviet Union gained the regions their independence once again. But, since then different groups and parties have gone back and forth concerning loyalty to Russia or maintaining their independence.
Vladimir Putin and much of Russia are probably casting a disapproving glare at Georgia over its decision to legalize cannabis. Vladimir Putin has openly mocked marijuana consumption and condemned Canada’s legalization of marijuana earlier this year. Russia cited a violation of international treaties by Canada when its Senate approved the Cannabis Act. It is expected that the commercial sale of cannabis will start on October 17th in Canada making it the first industrialized nation to legalize and sell adult-use cannabis.
When will marijuana be legal everywhere? At its current pace the legalization of cannabis in the majority of developed countries may not be too far down the road. The legalization of cannabis in Canada could start a domino effect with the United States being the next big chip to fall. Countries focused on economic industrial growth are not going to ignore money, especially if it is coming from a commodity that research has proven has medicinal properties and is easy to grow.
The STATES Act is currently the United States best shot at ending the prohibition on marijuana. It does not technically legalize cannabis federally but may as well. It would allow states to make their own rules concerning cannabis legalization and remove banking challenges. It is truly an economic decision when it comes down to it. It is estimated that the tax code 280E, which does not allow cannabis businesses to write off normal business expenses, can create up to a nearly 90% tax on profitable cannabis companies that touch the plant. It is estimated to produce as much as an extra $5 billion in tax revenue to the government. The passage of the Cannabis Act would get rid of 280E. Do you think the government wants to sacrifice that?