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Facing marijuana drug charges in Georgia: What are the penalties?

While marijuana is legal for medicinal use in Georgia -- in the form of cannabis oil -- possessing the drug without a prescription, possessing too much with a prescription, illegally cultivating and distributing the drug are all considered crimes under current state laws. The penalties for these drug charges can be rather harsh. However, certain offenders may be able to seek alternative sentencing options.

Criminal charges surrounding marijuana are typically broken down into three different categories: possession, medical marijuana and sale/trafficking. The penalties for all three range in severity depending on the amount of the drug a person is found to have in his or her possession. The current penalties for the following drug charges are:

  • Possession: Misdemeanor charge if found with less than 1 ounce, punishable up to one year in jail or $1,000 fine. Felony charge if found with more than 1 ounce, punishable up to 10 years in prison. If one is carrying over 10 pounds of marijuana, this is considered a trafficking offense.
  • Sale/Trafficking: Felony charge if one is carrying 10 pounds or less, punishable up to 10 years in prison. If one is carrying any more than that is also a felony offense, punishable up to 15 years in prison and mandatory fines of up to $1 million.
  • Medical Marijuana: possession laws apply to those found carrying cannabis oil without a prescription, to those who are eligible but are carrying more than 20 ounces of the oil and to those individuals in possession of a whole plant.

For those who qualify, pretrial diversion programs may be available. This means that, instead of going to jail if convicted on possession charges, one may enter a court supervised drug treatment program. One's legal counsel can provide more information about this topic.

Fighting marijuana-related drug charges can be difficult as Georgia laws regarding this drug are quite strict. However, with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, one can pursue the best legal course for one's case. For some that will be fighting the case in court, for others that will be working to achieve a plea agreement and for a few that will be seeking alternative sentencing -- such as the drug court option.

Source: FindLaw, "Georgia Marijuana Laws", Accessed on June 22, 2017

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