William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

The U.S. now has a jumble of marijuana laws. What are Georgia's?

The legal landscape of marijuana laws across the United States is becoming more and more various. While some states and cities have decriminalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana, other states, including Georgia, continue to hand down harsh penalties for possession of relatively small amounts of cannabis.

In even starker contrast, the U.S. Attorney General has indicated his desire to prosecute medical marijuana providers. That looming threat should be cause for concern for anyone who might find themselves facing federal drug charges.

What are the possible penalties in Georgia?

Georgia state law still provides for serious penalties for marijuana possession, although a strong criminal defense can go a long way toward minimizing the negative consequences of a charge.

As with any charge involving controlled substances, the potential penalties are generally based on the amount of drugs in question. In Georgia, marijuana charges for personal possession break down like this:

  • Possession of 1 ounce or less is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Depending on the circumstances (and the strength of the defense), penalties for such smaller amounts are often significantly less than the maximum allowed.
  • Possession of more than 1 ounce is punishable by one to 10 years' incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.

The stakes are higher if you are charged with marijuana sales, distribution or possession with intent to distribute.

In some cases, people who are carrying marijuana for a group of friends find themselves charged with intent to distribute, when in fact that was not the intent at all. If large amounts of marijuana are involved, the police may claim that you intended to sell or distribute it, and the possible penalties can include decades in prison.

The same is true of charges involving the actual sale or delivery of marijuana. All of these charges require an aggressive criminal defense that explores every available option for minimizing the negative consequences.

Georgia law also addresses hash and concentrates.

These are relatively new kinds of charges. An important thing to understand about hash, oils and other concentrates is that they are weighed more heavily than leaf marijuana in terms of the possible penalties. Why? Because of the concentration of THC in relatively small amounts.

In Georgia, possession of less than 1 gram of concentrated marijuana substance carries a possible penalty of one to three years of incarceration. The same penalty may apply for less than 1 milliliter of liquid marijuana concentrate. The penalties increase significantly for possession of larger amounts.

If you are arrested on any kind of marijuana charge, your first step should be to contact an criminal defense attorney. In many cases, early intervention by an experienced defense lawyer can lead to a reduction or even a dismissal of charges.

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