People increasingly think of marijuana possession as a minor crime. There was even a bill filed in February of 2016 that would decriminalize marijuana possession in the state of Georgia, but it hasn't been voted on or signed into law. Those who are caught in possession of marijuana, marijuana extracts, paraphernalia, or marijuana-infused foods can face severe penalties, including incarceration and suspension of their driver's license.
Marijuana possession charges incur real penalties
The average marijuana user will face the lowest tier of penalties, which covers those found in possession of less than an ounce. Those individuals face up to a year in prison, as well as $1,000 in fines. Those in possession of more than an ounce face felony charges that bring with them incarceration from one to ten years and a fine of up to $5,000. Those believed to have intent to distribute (often proven by the possession of a small scale or numerous containers or baggies) face felony charges that could result in a decade in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Medical marijuana defenses are difficult, but possible
Currently, the state of Georgia does have a medical marijuana bill on the books, which protects those with sickle cell anemia, cancer, seizure disorders, Crohn's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, mitochondrial disease, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease. Those with qualifying conditions are allowed to have up to twenty ounces of cannabis oil with less than 5 percent THC with a doctor's recommendation. There is no infrastructure in place for purchasing these oils, and no protections under the law for those growing marijuana or making the oils in the state of Georgia.
If you have a doctor's recommendation and are facing charges, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help. They may be able to argue an affirmative defense and protect your future. That's why it's so important to schedule an initial consultation as soon as possible if you or a loved one is facing marijuana possession charges. This is particularly true for marijuana oils and extracts, which have harsher punishments under state laws.
Possession of hash or other concentrates risks steep punishment
Those found to be in possession of hash or other forms of marijuana concentrates, such as BHO, could face severe penalties. Any amount, up to a gram of solid state concentrates or 1 ml of liquid state concentrates, is a felony that carries one to three years of incarceration and $5,000 in fines. Amounts of more than a gram or a milliliter but less than four of either could face up to eight years in prison. Those are mandatory minimums, making Georgia one of the harshest states to be charged with a marijuana offense.
An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help, by challenging the evidence against you or by requesting that the case be diverted or dropped if the defendant completes substance abuse programs and community service.