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Article provided by: Kohn & Yager, LLC
Georgia has been historically resistant to pro-cannabis legalization. However, a significant step towards legalizing recreational cannabis was made in 2019 when the state legalized low-THC cannabis oil. Currently, qualified persons can possess low-THC oil derived from the marijuana plant. Still, Georgia Marijuana Laws do not offer as much freedom as many other states that have fully legalized recreational and medical cannabis.
Is recreational marijuana legal in Georgia?
No. Possessing or selling marijuana for recreational use in Georgia remains illegal, despite most voters favoring full cannabis legalization. The city of Atlanta is one of the few places where one may get away with possessing small amounts of marijuana.
In 2017 the city council unanimously voted to decriminalize marijuana possession in their jurisdiction. Individuals caught with less than 1 ounce of marijuana will not be prosecuted. Other cities that have done likewise include Clarkston, Chamblee, Forest Park, Savannah, and Fulton County.
What is the punishment for possessing marijuana in Georgia?
Possessing no more than 1 ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor under Georgia marijuana laws. The maximum sentence is a 1-year jail term and a fine of up to $6000. For first-time offenders, the penalty may be no more than conditional discharge with community service and a fine.
Possessing any amount of marijuana for non-personal us will be tried as a felony. If found guilty, the punishment is a one-year mandatory minimum sentence alongside a maximum fine of $15,000. If the 'non-personal' use involves selling or delivering, the penalty becomes even harsher. The offender can be sentenced to a jail term of 2 years to life imprisonment alongside a maximum fine of $60,000.
Is medical marijuana legal in Georgia?
According to Georgia marijuana laws, cannabis oil containing less than 5% THC can be prescribed for medical purposes. However, patients have to register with the Department of Public Health before they can access the medicine. Once the patient or their caregiver has been duly registered, they can purchase not more than 20 ounces of low THC cannabis oil. The following is the list of qualifying conditions approved under Georgia medical marijuana laws:
- Severe cases of or end-stage Parkinson's disease
- Crohn's disease
- Dravet Syndrome or other seizures related to epilepsy
- Tourette's syndrome
- Alzheimer's disease
What are the possible defenses for first-time offenders?
As mentioned earlier, first-time offenders facing marijuana possession charges can get special sentencing known as a conditional discharge. However, the conditional discharge unsurprisingly comes with certain conditions. For one, the offender must have no prior charges, and the crime must be non-violent. Often, the defendant also has to plead guilty before the judge considers conditional discharge.
Contact the foremost criminal lawyers in Georgia
As you will have realized, Georgia marijuana laws are quite stringent. If you or anyone you know has been charged with a marijuana-related crime, you'll need the best attorneys to defend you in court. Our experienced lawyers at Criminal Defense Matters fit this bill, and they'll be more than glad to take up your case. Call us on 404-567-5515 to have a free virtual meeting with one of our lawyers/.
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