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The Chairman of the Parliamentary Faction Georgian Dream – Conservatives, Giga Bukia, commented upon the protest meeting which was held to demand the decriminalisation of marijuana. According to the MP, the message which the protesters attempted to spread, that smoking marijuana does no harm to anyone, is incorrect. The MP stated: "It seems as if this is no crime at all – a person does no harm to him or herself and to the public and it is up to them to decide. Attempted suicide is punishable by law in Georgia, and in any other country as well, and no one can say that they can end their life without the state being involved." In addition, Giga Bukia pointed out that in several European countries using marijuana is punishable by imprisonment.

At the request of a reader, FactCheck

attempted to find out whether or not using marijuana is punishable by imprisonment in any European countries and if individuals are detained for attempted suicide.

According to the study

of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the legal issue of using marijuana for personal purposes is a highly debated topic in the EU. Every country in the United Nations and the European Union regards cannabis as a narcotic. However, its legal management measures on a national level substantially differ from each other.

According to the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the cannabis extract (marijuana, hashish and cannabis oil) is a narcotic drug. Article 36 of the Convention calls upon the signatory parties to ensure that possessing these narcotics or their premeditated usage is punishable by law. Article 22 of the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances echoes the 1961 Convention.  The signatory party must undertake punitive measures if the usage is premeditated and goes against the law and the Convention. Article 3 of the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances

determines that keeping the narcotic substances for personal use or their distribution is a punishable act and requires the formulation of appropriate legislation. The aforementioned Article later became a widely debated topic in the public.

The European Union member states reflected the UN Conventions in their respective legislations according to their location and the situation in the region.

According to the 2004 Resolution of the Council of the European Union, the member states must take appropriate measures to decrease the personal use of marijuana (especially among young users). In addition, the Council called upon the member states to take decisive action against websites which were disseminating information about the cultivation and usage of marijuana.

A short review

of the regulations against using marijuana in European countries is of interest. For example, in Belgium keeping marijuana for both personal purposes and distribution is prohibited. However, police only issue a warning if the cannabis user does not violate public order whilst the violation of public order is punishable by imprisonment from three months to one year.

The possession of a small amount of cannabis in the Czech Republic is not punishable by imprisonment but the police are authorised to warn or fine any person in question. About 15 grams of marijuana and 5 grams of hashish are considered to be a ‘small amount.’

The possession of cannabis or any other type of narcotic drugs is punishable by imprisonment in Denmark; however, fining is a standard punishment in the case of the possession of cannabis.  In the case of finding 10 grams of hashish or 50 grams of marijuana the prosecutor can limit the punishment to a warning.

Using cannabis is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment in Germany. The exception is a small amount of cannabis. It should be noted that according to the Constitutional Court of Germany, a person will not be punished for the possession of a small amount of cannabis for personal use if he does no harm to any other person and no under-aged people are involved in the usage of the drug. The legislations concerning the use of cannabis in the rest of the European countries can be found here.

In general, we can say that European countries have quite liberal legislations concerning the use of cannabis and imprisonment is the most extreme form of punishment. In other cases there are exceptions – a verbal warning or a fine.

As for the issue of attempted suicide, different types of legislation can be found around the world. Attempted suicide is not punishable in most European countries.

It should be noted that a debate about the legality of suicide is connected with euthanasia rather than the use of marijuana. For example, euthanasia became legal in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2002, with a strictly defined norm. Active euthanasia (when a doctor prescribes a deadly drug for a patient) is considered illegal in Germany and Switzerland; however, certain forms of euthanasia are not illegal in Germany. Switzerland has even more liberal legislation in this sense according to which a patient has the right to use euthanasia.

Attempted suicide is not punishable in Ireland; however, any form of euthanasia is illegal which is why certain social unions demand its legalisation. It should be pointed out that any other form of suicide, apart from euthanasia, is not punishable in Ireland. Attempted suicide is not punishable in Luxembourg, but euthanasia is illegal.

Attempted suicide is not punishable in New Zealand as there are no legal norms concerning this issue. However, the facilitation of suicide and euthanasia are illegal despite many attempts to legalise euthanasia. Attempted suicide is also not punishable in Norway.

As we can see, attempted suicide is not punishable in every country of the world. It should also be pointed out that the discussion about the legality of suicide mainly concerns euthanasia.

Conclusion

European countries have quite liberal legislations concerning the use of marijuana with imprisonment being the most extreme form of punishment. Using marijuana for the first time or in small quantities is not a criminal offense in European countries and is not punishable by imprisonment.

As for the non-legality of attempted suicide, it should be noted that attempted suicide is not illegal in "every country" of the world as stated by the MP.  In addition, the debate in the modern world about the legality of suicide is connected with the issue of euthanasia and not the usage of marijuana and its negative effects. Hence, the parallel between the usage of marijuana and suicide, drawn by Giga Bukia, is NOT RELEVANT.