A Guide to Georgia Cannabis Laws
Laws governing marijuana possession and use in the US differ, depending on the state. Across several states, you can use weed for medicinal purposes, with some even going as far as legalizing recreational marijuana. However, in Georgia, it’s a different ball game.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, two-thirds of Georgia residents feel the government should legalize marijuana. However, 40,000 Georgia citizens are arrested annually for possession of marijuana.
A few Georgia cities such as Atlanta and Savannah have decriminalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. These cities now issue a citation with fines ranging from $75 to $300. In Georgia, possessing one ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor criminal offense that carries a jail sentence of up to one year and a legal fine of $1,000 fine.
- Marijuana possession is still illegal under current federal laws. Possession of one or more ounces of marijuana is a felony in Georgia, and the charge carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of one year, and up to 10 years in jail with a $5,000 fine.
- For the most part, the Georgia Controlled Substance Act prohibits the ownership and use of cannabis. State laws permit patients with specific medical conditions to use the drug for treatment under the Haleigh’s Hope Act.
- Georgia’s Hope Act – HB 324 (2019)
- On April 17, 2019, Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s Hope Act HB324 into law. The bill permits patients to purchase low-THC medicinal cannabis oils. The maximum allowable percentage of THC in medical cannabis oils is 5%.
- Although the law is currently being implemented, the State of Georgia has not licensed any dispensaries or manufacturers in the state. As of May 5, 2021, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission approved several applications for producers in 2020, but the state has not issued any of the six licenses that are available.
- The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission has also not opened the licensing for dispensaries. Both the Senate and House passed SB 195, which allows each of the six producers to run five dispensaries per producer. SB 195 also permits additional dispensaries to be opened as the number of registered patients increase.
- The law would also permit the sale of different “low-THC” cannabis products. On May 03, 2021, Governor Brian Kemp signed Georgia SB 195 into law. However, the governor has not yet enacted the new law.
- Currently, Georgia marijuana laws only permit the manufacture and sale of medical CBD that is low in THC.
- Approximately 15,000 patients signed up within the first month of the new law’s passage. The Georgia Composite Medical Board and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) oversee the patient registry.
- If patients suffer from a qualifying medical condition, they may receive a registry card from the Georgia Department of Public Health, provide a doctor’s recommendation, and then pay a $25 fee. The medical doctor then fills out the two requisite forms. The CBD cards are processed within 15 business days and expire in two years.
The following qualifying medical conditions qualify for the CBD patient registry as long as the conditions are severe:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Crohn’s disease
- Epidermolysis bullosa
- Hospice care patients
- Intractable pain
- Mitochondrial disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Sickle cell disease
- Tourette’s syndrome
Marijuana Possession Laws in Georgia
- According to Georgia marijuana laws, possessing less than an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor, and you’ll likely face up to a year in prison alongside a $1000 fine.
- The state also considers possession of more than one ounce and up to 10 lbs a felony, with a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a $5000 fine. Furthermore, ownership of over 10,000 lbs could attract a prison sentence of up to 30 years and $1 million.
- Possessing larger ounces of marijuana carries even sterner penalties, and state laws also classify possession of cannabis with the intention to distribute under separate categories of crimes.
Possession of Marijuana With Intention to Distribute
- Under O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(j)(2), carrying around any amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute is a felony in Georgia, and you could face as much as ten years jail time alongside a fine of $5000. The punishment also becomes stricter based on the amount of cannabis found on you.
- A subsequent conviction carries a prison sentence of ten to forty years in prison. If the defendant was caught in possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and was caught 1,000 feet of a school, a park, a housing project, or in a drug-free zone, they face up to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 for the first offense.
- Subsequent offenses carry a minimum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $40,000.
- For instance, you may face up to 30 years in prison and $1 million for possessing up to 10,000 lbs with the intent to distribute. Regardless, the law determines if there was an intention to distribute based on evidence of cash or transaction records.
Penalties for Marijuana Sale
- Under O.C.G.A. §16-13-30(j)(2), selling 10 lbs of marijuana in Georgia attracts a penalty of one to 10 years in prison and a $5000 fine. Of course, according to Georgia marijuana laws, the punishment becomes more severe if you’re apprehended with higher weight.
- If an individual is caught selling ten or more pounds of marijuana, the accused will be charged with Marijuana Trafficking.
- The punishment for trafficking 10 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana in Georgia is a minimum prison sentence of five years and a $100,000 fine. If the accused was trafficking over 10,000 pounds of marijuana, they would face a minimum mandatory prison sentence of fifteen years and a $1 million fine.
- In Georgia, selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, housing project, drug-free zone, or park carries additional consequences.
- The perpetrator faces a twenty-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $20,000. A subsequent offense carries a minimum of five years, but no more than forty years in prison and a fine of up to $40,000.
Marijuana Cultivation in Georgia
- Marijuana cultivation is a felony in Georgia, regardless of the weight. However, the punishment you receive depends on the amount the police find in your yard or farm. The penalties, though, are similar to those under possession with intent to distribute or sell.
- That said, state laws permit farmers to cultivate hemp for cannabis oil and other products approved by the state and issued a license.
- Growing marijuana “weed” without a license will be violating O.C.G.A. § 16-13-32.4, and if convicted will be guilty of a felony.
- For a first conviction, the punishment will be a maximum prison term of 20 years or a fine of no more than $20,000.00, or both.
- A subsequent conviction, the punishment will be a prison term between five and forty years, a maximum fine of $40,000.00, or both. For a second conviction, a minimum of five years must be served and cannot be suspended.
What Do Georgia State Laws Say About Cannabis Concentrates?
- In Georgia, the sale, production, and possession of cannabis concentrates, such as hash, attracts criminal charges. For the ownership of 1g or 1ml of such products, you can face up to three years of jail time and a $5000 fine.
- Manufacturing or selling these drugs also attracts a sentence of up to 30 years. As usual, your punishment depends on the amount you’re caught with.
The basic steps to obtaining a card are as follows:
- Patients and caregivers of patients who believe they may be eligible should consult with their physician about the possibility of obtaining a card allowing them to possess 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil within the state of Georgia.
- If approved by the physician, the patient or patient’s caregivers’ information will be entered into DPH’s secure “Low THC Oil Registry” and a card(s) will be issued.
- Patients and caregivers will be notified when the cards are ready for pickup (within 15 business days) from one of several public health offices geographically spread around the state.
“Low THC Oil Registry” cards cost $25 – the standard fee for obtaining a vital record in Georgia – and will be valid for two years from the date issued. After that time, cardholders will need to again consult with their physician about their continued eligibility and to request that they update and confirm their information into the registry.
Georgia Cannabis Tax Law
- A tax is imposed on marijuana and controlled substances as defined in Code Section 48- 15-2 at the following rates:
- On each gram of marijuana, or each portion of a gram, $3.50;
- On each gram of controlled substance, or portion of a gram, $200.00; and
- On each ten dosage units of a controlled substance that is not sold by weight, or portion thereof, $400.00.
Georgia Cannabis Advertising Law
- Georgia does not allow dispensaries, nor advertising for their medical cannabis law. For more information, please refer to Georgia’s Low-THC Oil Registry Guide.