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Drugs – new problem in Pankisi Gorge and uncontrolled situation

06.02.2020

 
Reginfo.ge 

“It already outran many other problems in Pankisi Gorge as many young people are involved in it. It is no longer the issue of cannabis, which was already very widely spread – even 11-12 years children smoke marihuana in the gorge. Just imagine what kind of situation we have. The young boys have already started using “krakadil”, and it cannot be changed. Many people know where these people gather and prepare the “krakadil,” inject it but nobody from police examines those places; I have not heard anybody was sanctioned for it,” civil activist from Pankisi Gorge Sulkhan Bordzikashvili spoke about the handmade narcotic “krakadil.”

Use of the “krakadil” has fatal results. It damages cardio-vascular system, festers the skin and finally the human skin resembles the skin of a crocodile. Therefore it was called “krakadil” in slang. The places of injection get hornlike and ulcers are originated; often the infection reaches the bone and a person starts getting rotten. For all these problems, people often need amputation of limbs. Among systemic diseases, it is worth to mention sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, bone infection, which causes collapse of the jaw and face bones, worsens speech and movement coordination, and degrades memory and mental concentration. 

To prepare “krakadil” people need easy-to-access chemical substances, medicines and only 45 minutes. The substances necessary for this narcotic must be sold only based on the doctor’s prescription but the people still manage to buy them. 

The handmade narcotic substance because of its chemical ingredients has strong toxic impact on the human body. Its reaction is faster than other narcotic substances and causes strong desire to get more. According to the research, 1 mg of krakadil is similar to 10 mg morphine. After 3-4 injections, the drug-user gets absolutely addicted to it. Besides that, the drug-addicts inject it more frequently than other substances.

“It is really very painful problem in the gorge; I mean that big part of the youth is drug-addict. It harms their health and religious beliefs. Islam prohibits even alcohol. Any substance, which disorders the behavior of a person, is prohibited,” said Zurab Kavtarashvili, Imam of the Salafit Community of the Pankisi Gorge in his interview with the Pankisi Community Radio. 

“Anybody, who prepares or sells narcotic substances, must be afraid of the God. We all must combat spread of this disease with our resources. Our religion obliges us to completely eradicate this problem,” the Imam said. 
“I am very afraid how this generation will look like in ten years.”

Resident of Jokolo village, teacher and civil activist Luiza Mutoshvili recalled a video-roll disseminated by local youth in social media a month ago, which showed the place where people prepare and inject the narcotics: “In various villages of the gorge, in many places there are sites where boys gather and it is very hard picture. It is important that there are young people in the gorge who fight against it. They record videos and disseminate them in social networks to expose the negative behavior of their friends and teach them that it is bad and destroys their lives.”

The officers of the Akhmeta district police division also have seen this video but they have not reacted. 

The reporters of the Pankisi Community Radio also video-recorded one of these sites in the gorge. It is located far from the settlement, where we saw a vessel in the half-demolished chapel, and they prepare narcotics in them, not only “krakadil” but also “traditional vint” and ‘efedra vint.” 

Like “krakadil” the two other narcotic substances are also handmade. As the bushes of Efedra grow in the wild nature, people have unlimited access to it. As the specialists state, mostly inexperienced youth use it. The “efedra’s vint” is characterized with fast addiction and results into inevitable medical problems: skin and vascular inflammation, abscess, gangrene, cordial insufficiency, emboli, depression, psychic problems and suicide inclination. 

The police have not only seen the video-materials but even citizens applied to them for help. One of them is Kheedi Kushanashvili, resident of Duisi village. “I met the chief police officer. He said he does not have right to take any measures as it is allowed. Unless they are involved in this case, or purposefully encourage this uncontrolled situation, why the substances are sold, why the lives of the youth are destroyed?”

Legislation 

In the past period, based on the decisions of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, use of marihuana in private space is legalized; however, use of narcotic substances without doctor’s prescription is still punished both under the administrative and criminal laws.

With October 24, 2015 judgment, the Constitutional Court of Georgia, annulled criminal liability for the purchase-possession of marihuana in the amount of up to 70 grams, which was punishable by imprisonment from 7 up to 14 years under the Article 260 Part 2 of the Criminal Code of Georgia (case – Beka Tsikarishvili vs Parliament of Georgia).

With November 30, 2017 judgment, the Constitutional Court of Georgia declared the criminal liability for the use of marihuana/cannabis unconstitutional (Givi Shanidze vs Parliament of Georgia). 

On July 30, 2018 the Constitutional Court of Georgia annulled the sanction on the use of marihuana without the prescription of a doctor (Zurab Japaridze and Vakhtang Megrelishvili vs Parliament of Georgia); with the said decision, the use of marihuana in private space became legalized, however it is still punished in public space, in the institutions for underage children, and/or in their presence, in the premises of educational, medical and state institutions. 

After legalization of the use of marihuana, Article 451 was added to the Administrative Code of Georgia. Unlawful purchase, storage, transportation or/and sending of little amount of cannabis or marihuana became punishable under the administrative law and offender is sanctioned with 500 GEL.

Use of cannabis or marihuana is prohibited in any building, except the flat of an individual and perpetrator is sanctioned with financial penalty from 500 up to 1000 GEL; in case of repeated offence, the offender is sanctioned with financial penalty from 1000 GEL up to 1500 GEL.

A person under the age of 21 will be sanctioned with financial penalty from 500 GEL up to 1000 GEL if he/she uses cannabis or marihuana without doctor’s prescription. 

Smoking cannabis or marihuana in the street, yard, stadium, square, park, court, airport, medical institution or/and pharmacy and in their vicinities, in the cinema, theater, concert hall, café, restaurant, on any public transport, in the auto-station, railway station or/and in any other public space is sanctioned with the financial penalty from 800 GEL up to 1 200 GEL.

Use or being under the influence of cannabis or marihuana in the presence of juveniles (among them in private space) or in educational or/and tutorial institution, library, youth camp, children’s entertaining center or/and other premises for the children under 18, during the gathering of the people under 18 or in their vicinities, will be punished with the financial penalty from 1000 GEL up to 1500 GEL.

Article 2731 of the Criminal Code of Georgia establishes the penalty for unlawful purchase, storage, transportation, sending or/and realization of the cannabis or marihuana. If a person, who was already sanctioned under the administrative law and is repeatedly arrested for the same crime, he/she will be punished with fine or community work. Multiple purchase, storage, transportation and sending of particularly large amount of cannabis and marihuana is punished by imprisonment from 5 up to 10 years in length.

On July 12, 2017, the Constitutional Court annulled the Article 260 Part 3 of the CCG, which punished the preparation, purchase and storage of 0,00009 gram of dezomorphine with imprisonment. 

Unlawful preparation, production, purchase, storage, transportation, sending or realization of narcotic substances, their analogues, precursor or new psycho-active substance is punished under the criminal code by the imprisonment up to 20 years or for life term. 

When police does not work

Regardless legislative prohibitions, the police do not do anything to prevent spread of the cannabis/marihuana and other narcotic substances in the villages of Pankisi Gorge. Civil activists do not exclude that the police do not react purposefully. 

“I do not want to lose trust in the state bodies that with their inactivity or support, they purposefully destroy the lives of the youth in Pankisi. It is disaster that they started using “krakadil” and nobody reacts,” Sulkhan said. 

“If the situation continues like that and necessary measures are not taken on time, we may receive grave results. We remember what was happening in the Gorge in the beginning of 2000s, when narcotics was sold there without any control. We no longer have similar situation now, but recent developments are already alarming. Many young people died in the past and if we receive the same situation today, we will face the same problem soon. Moreover, the Pankisi Gorge is still under the impact of those old times,” Ramzan Gorgishvili said. 

The Council of Elders intends to fight against the dissemination of the narcotic substances in the gorge with their efforts. “Last time, as the police do not pay attention to this problem, which they can eradicate within 2-3 days, I recommended that we will take responsibility to resolve this problem. 

We will set up duty units according to family names, like it happened in the past, to eradicate the problem, to expose, to shame the perpetrators. We have no other way. 
Maybe, police thinks that if the use of cannabis is not prohibited in public areas, one can go to the river embankment and smoke there; you can also encourage children to get addicted. It is inadmissible,” Khaso Khangoshvili of the Council of Elders said. 

The elders and youth have thought over the possibilities how to fight against the problem.

“There are no perspectives of development in the gorge. The youth have nothing to spend free time. Their engagement in sport could be the best solution”, Sulkhan and Luiza also agree with Ramzan: “If the access to sport trainings fails to eradicate the problem, at least it will not strengthen it. Nowadays, adults and one part of young people watch those, who are drug-users. They have not yet started using it but if they will have chance to go in for sport, they will not get under the influence of drug-addiction.”

“One of the reasons why we are now in similar grave situation is that there are no opportunities for the young boys here.”

The project, which is supported by the NDI, aims to promote increased access of the youth to participation and sport activities; in the frame of the project, the needs of the local youth was surveyed. The main needs, which were identified, are: construction of multifunction sport center in Jokolo village and in the Pankisi Gorge; also appointment public transport from Pankisi Gorge to the municipality center – Akhmeta. 

“A young person shall be interested in something; he/she should have some goal in the life – our youth lack it. Why? Because there is nothing to do in our gorge. Sport is attractive for all youth, regardless their beliefs. Moreover, our young people have talent to achieve success in various fields of sport,” Khaso Khangoshvili said and urges the society to promptly act to resolve the problem. 
   


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