The past 10 years have brought massive changes in the way the states regulate cannabis. More than half the states now have some form of legalized cannabis for medical purposes, and nearly a dozen have decriminalized recreational use.
Georgia has acted to legalize cannabis oil for medical purposes in some cases, but other uses of cannabis remain strictly illegal under state and federal law. Possession of less than one ounce of cannabis is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. Possession of between 1 ounce and 10 pounds is punishable as a felony offense, carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.
Possession of more than 10 pounds of cannabis is prosecuted as a drug trafficking offense, with much higher penalties. Anyone found in possession of between 10 pounds and 2,000 pounds can be found guilty of drug trafficking. If convicted, they will face a minimum of five years in prison and a fine of at least $100,000.
Note that wide range in amounts: A person who is found in possession of a backpack full of just slightly over 10 pounds of cannabis can face the same penalties as someone found in possession of a truckload of just under 2,000 pounds. Penalties go up sharply for amounts over 2,000 pounds. Those found in possession of between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds face seven years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Some Georgia counties have introduced alternative sentencing programs, which can make for less onerous penalties for possession charges. The city of Savannah has resolved to decriminalize cannabis possession, treating most charges as infractions. Depending on the circumstance, first time offenders in that city may be merely issued a fine.
Anyone accused of cannabis-related crimes in Georgia should speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to learn about their legal options.