Issue 13 (2019)

COURTS OR THE LEGISLATURES? MARIJUANA POLICY IN GEORGIA AND THE UNITED STATES

Abstract: Who is to decide? This is the fundamental question facing a democratic republic. A separation of powers is widely accepted in western democracies with legislatures making laws, executives implementing the law, and judges interpreting and applying laws to actual cases and controversies brought before them. But when does the judicial role depart from judging and impermissibly lurch into the realm of policymaking which most people agree is a legislative function? This article examines such questions in reference to recent experience in the Republic of Georgia and the United States regarding the legal status of marijuana. In both countries courts and legislatures have taken decisive and controversial actions regarding the status of cannabis in society. But in so doing, have the judicial and legislative branches respected separation-of powers-principles, or have the lines been the two branches become blurred?

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