More and more states are legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use. Unfortunately for those who enjoy the plant in Georgia, the Peach State isn’t one of them. While the state has enacted and expanded a medical marijuana program for those with serious medical conditions, the average citizen cannot own, use or grow marijuana legally.
Combine that with the fact that social stigma around marijuana has decreased substantially in recent years, and you have a perfect recipe for a large number of non-violent criminal offenders to enter the Georgia criminal justice system.
Although many people in Georgia may not think marijuana use should be a crime anymore, the courts and law enforcement don’t agree with that opinion. All it takes is a single questionable decision at a party or a concert to get yourself into serious legal trouble.
Some people think they can avoid criminal prosecution by reducing or eliminating that stink associated with marijuana by using vaporizing pens (e-cigarettes) to consume marijuana extracts. These people could face even worse penalties than those walking around with a joint in their pocket under Georgia law.
Marijuana penalties include fines and jail time
Even if you don’t have a criminal record, getting arrested for marijuana can cost you a lot. Any amount of marijuana, from a single seed to an ounce, is a misdemeanor offense that carries a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail. If you get arrested while in possession of more than an ounce, the crime gets upgraded to a felony. That means you will face a mandatory minimum sentence of a year in jail, but as much as ten years in jail, as well as a $5,000 fine. If you were carrying a pipe, vaporizer or other paraphernalia at the time of your arrest, that could result in a second misdemeanor charge.
Those who use marijuana concentrates, like hash or marijuana oils (BHO) face felony charges for any amount, even the tiniest residue. Less than a gram of a solid substance of a milliliter of a liquid extract carries between a year and three years in jail, with the minimum of a year being mandatory under state law. There is also a fine of $5,000. Those in possession of between 1 and 4 grams will face a minimum sentence of a year, but as many as eight years, in jail, as well as a fine of $5,000. They will likely also face paraphernalia charges for any vaporizers or smoking devices in their possession.
Although cultural attitudes about marijuana are changing, laws take much longer than people’s minds to change. Marijuana use and possession are still serious crimes in Georgia.