Although many states are trending toward decriminalization of marijuana possession, under Georgia law, the possession of marijuana is still a serious crime.
Georgia marijuana possession charges can be very serious. There is a lot to know about Georgia marijuana laws, and it is highly recommended that a citizen accused immediately consult with a Georgia marijuana attorney.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Possession of Marijuana
The main distinction between a felony and misdemeanor offense is weight. If the amount of marijuana is less than an ounce, then the charge will likely be misdemeanor possession. If the weight of marijuana is an ounce or greater, then the charge will be a felony.
Georgia marijuana possession of less than an ounce is a misdemeanor punishable by up to twelve months in custody, with a maximum of $1,000 fine plus surcharges and fees. Many courts require DUI School (drug charges can and usually do result in a license suspension), a Drug and Alcohol evaluation and follow recommendations, and sometimes community service.
Georgia marijuana possession of an ounce or over is a felony that is punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison, plus the terms mentioned above, but with a larger fine.
Intent to Distribute/ Sale of Marijuana
It is important to understand that certain behavior such as sharing marijuana with friends, possessing larger amounts of marijuana, possessing marijuana along with scales, baggies, ledgers and large amounts of cash can warrant a charge of Georgia marijuana possession with intent to distribute / sale of marijuana, which is also punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison. Under many circumstances the sale or intent to distribute of less than an ounce of marijuana is a felony.
Georgia marijuana possession of 50 pounds or greater is considered trafficking and carries a mandatory minimum sentence. For any amount over 50 pounds, but under 2,000, the mandatory minimum sentence is 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The mandatory minimum for 2,000 pounds to less than 10,000 pounds, is 7 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. And for 10,000 pounds or more, the minimum is 15 years and a $1,000,000 fine.
Drug Free School Zone
In an effort to keep drugs away from children, the possession or distribution of marijuana within 1,000 feet of any school, playground, recreational center, park, or drug free zone is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000, for a first offense. The penalties are much more sever for a second offense.
Driver’s License Suspension
Many people do not realize that a drug conviction usually results in a license suspension, even if not driving. Upon a first conviction, the defendant’s driver’s license is suspended for at least six months and will be reinstated only upon completion of a risk reduction program (DUI School). For subsequent convictions, the suspension is longer in length. (Additionally, professional licenses can be suspended due to a drug conviction.)
Misdemeanor Marijuana charges have many options for alternative sentencing. For more information please see our article on Alternative Sentencing.
About the attorney: Anne Bishop is a Georgia Lawyer with A. Bishop Law in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWI, Marijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters. The law office of A. Bishop Law can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), Jackson County (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.
This article and/or video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.