Marijuana laws are evolving. Pot is legal in Canada and has been decriminalized in many states. About half the U.S. allows medical marijuana, but it is illegal under federal law, which supersedes state laws if the feds choose to enforce them.
Georgia is one of the few states where medical marijuana is legal but the cultivation and distribution of marijuana is not. Meanwhile, the city of Savannah changed marijuana punishment so that a person found with less than one ounce will face a $150 fine.
Georgia state law
If you are arrested for possession of marijuana in Georgia (except Savannah), you could have these penalties:
- Possession of one ounce or less – misdemeanor with one year in jail or a $1,000 fine
- Possession of between one ounce and 10 pounds – felony with up to 10 years in jail
- Possession of more than 10 pounds – considered a trafficking offense
- Sale or trafficking of less than 10 pounds – felony with up to 10 years in jail
- Sale or trafficking of between 10 and 2,000 pounds – felony with five years in jail and mandatory $100,000 fine
- Sale or trafficking of between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds – felony with seven years in jail and mandatory $250,000 fine
- Sale or trafficking of more than 10,000 pounds – felony with 15 years in jail and mandatory $1 million fine.
Possible alternatives to punishment
If it is your first offense, you are older than 16 and you have possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, a nolo contendere plea could result in Georgia’s First Offender program. At the judge’s discretion, a defendant will be placed on probation and required to attend a drug risk reduction program within 120 days of sentencing. If the offender meets the conditions, the charge may be sealed from the official criminal record.
However, if the defendant is again arrested while on probation, the First Offender program can be revoked and the defendant will face the maximum sentence for the first and second charges.
Almost all drug offenses result in the loss of a state driver’s license. Successful completion of the First Offender program could result in the reinstatement of your license.