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Marijuana laws in Georgia: What you need to know

There's a mishmash of laws around the country regarding the use of marijuana in its various forms. Therefore, people are understandably confused at times about what they can and cannot have in their possession. After all, it varies depending on where you're standing at any given moment.

Here's what you need to know about Georgia's marijuana laws:

Georgia has a very limited medical marijuana program.

There are about 1,000 physicians who can prescribe marijuana in the state. The number of medical marijuana cards held by residents has increased by 70% in the last year. However, the state only allows its residents to have "low THC oil," or oils with 5% or less tetrahydrocannabinol (the drug's psychoactive ingredient).

If you're caught with marijuana in other forms, like dry herb or dabs, you're running afoul of the law. Advocates for marijuana legalization have said that Georgia's program is so restrictive and the limits on access to the THC products are so extreme that marijuana remains, for all practical purposes, illegal.

Decriminalization is taking place only on local levels.

Possession of the drug has been decriminalized. This means that police will no longer make arrests for simple possession -- on some local levels. Savannah, for example, treats first-time possession charges as nothing more serious than a traffic infraction.

That does not mean, however, that you can relax your guard. Typically, possession of an ounce or less is treated as a misdemeanor, but you can still be sentenced to up to a year in jail. More than an ounce in your possession can get up to 10 years in prison.

The drug remains a controlled substance under federal laws.

Even if the local authorities decline to prosecute you on drug charges, you may have to contend with federal charges -- particularly if you were stopped on a highway and found with drugs. Marijuana is a Schedule I substance in the eyes of the federal government, making its possession a serious offense.

Even though much of the United States has relaxed its attitude toward marijuana, possession of this drug in Georgia is still a serious crime. If you are facing criminal charges, an experienced defense attorney can protect your rights.

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