Georgia Cannabis Laws You Definitely Need to Know!

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, weed, pot, or ganja, is a plant that contains psychoactive compounds that can alter the mood, perception, and cognition of the user. Cannabis is widely used for recreational, medical, and spiritual purposes, but it is also illegal in many parts of the world, including the U.S. state of Georgia.

In this article, we will explore the current status, history, and future of cannabis legalization in Georgia, as well as the legal alternatives and risks of using cannabis in the Peach State.

Is Cannabis Legal in Georgia?

The short answer is no. Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in Georgia, and the state has some of the harshest penalties for cannabis possession, sale, trafficking, and cultivation in the country. According to the Georgia marijuana laws, possession of 1 ounce or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Possession of more than 1 ounce is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Sale, trafficking, and cultivation of cannabis are also felonies that can result in up to 40 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines, depending on the amount and circumstances.

However, there are some exceptions and reforms that have been made in recent years to allow for limited medical use and decriminalization of cannabis in some cities.

Medical Cannabis in Georgia

Georgia has a very limited medical cannabis program that allows patients with certain debilitating conditions to possess and use low-THC cannabis oil. Low-THC cannabis oil is defined as cannabis oil that contains no more than 5% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, and an amount of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound with potential medical benefits, that is equal to or greater than the amount of THC.

The medical conditions that qualify for the program are:

  • Cancer, when such diagnosis is end stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness or recalcitrant nausea and vomiting
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
  • Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries
  • Multiple sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Parkinson’s disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
  • Sickle cell disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
  • Tourette’s syndrome, when such diagnosis is severe
  • Autism spectrum disorder, when (a) patient is 18 years of age or more, or (b) patient is less than 18 years of age and diagnosed with severe autism
  • Epidermolysis bullosa
  • Alzheimer’s disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage
  • AIDS when such syndrome is severe or end stage
  • Peripheral neuropathy, when symptoms are severe or end stage
  • Patient is in hospice program, either as inpatient or outpatient
  • Intractable pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from direct exposure to or witnessing of a trauma for a patient who is at least 18 years of age

To access low-THC cannabis oil, patients must register with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and obtain a Low THC Oil Registry Card, which costs $25 and must be renewed annually. The card allows patients to possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low-THC cannabis oil. However, the card does not allow patients to legally purchase, produce, or transport low-THC cannabis oil in Georgia. Patients must obtain their oil from another state that allows medical cannabis, which may violate federal and state laws.

Decriminalization of Cannabis in Georgia

While cannabis remains illegal at the state level, some cities in Georgia have taken steps to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. Decriminalization means that the offense is treated as a civil infraction rather than a criminal offense, and the penalty is usually a fine rather than jail time.

The cities that have decriminalized cannabis in Georgia are:

  • Atlanta: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $75 fine.
  • Savannah: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $150 fine for the first offense, and up to $300 for subsequent offenses.
  • Macon: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $75 fine.
  • Athens: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $100 fine.
  • South Fulton: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $150 fine.
  • Forest Park: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $100 fine.
  • Kingsland: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $150 fine.
  • Statesboro: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $500 fine.
  • Clarkston: Possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis is punishable by a $75 fine.

However, decriminalization does not mean that cannabis is legal in these cities. It only means that the local authorities have the discretion to enforce the state law or the city ordinance. Therefore, cannabis users may still face arrest, prosecution, and criminal records under the state law, especially if they encounter state or federal law enforcement agents.

Delta 8 THC: A Legal Alternative to Cannabis in Georgia

Cannabis users in Georgia who are looking for a legal and less potent alternative to cannabis may be interested in delta 8 THC, a new cannabinoid that has recently entered the market. Delta 8 THC is a naturally occurring compound in cannabis that is similar to delta 9 THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, but with some differences.

Delta 8 THC has about half the potency of delta 9 THC, which means it produces a milder and more manageable high, with less anxiety and paranoia. Delta 8 THC also has some potential medical benefits, such as anti-nausea, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties. Delta 8 THC is legal in Georgia, as it is derived from hemp, which is defined as cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% of delta 9 THC. Hemp and hemp-derived products are federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, which Georgia has adopted.

Delta 8 THC products are available online and in some local stores in Georgia, in various forms, such as oils, gummies, cartridges, and flowers. However, consumers should be careful when buying delta 8 THC products, as they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the DPH, and may contain contaminants, additives, or inaccurate levels of delta 8 THC. Consumers should also be aware of the risks and side effects of delta 8 THC, such as impaired driving, drug testing, and drug interactions.

Conclusion

Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in Georgia, and the state has some of the strictest cannabis laws in the country. However, there are some exceptions and reforms that allow for limited medical use and decriminalization of cannabis in some cities. Cannabis users in Georgia should be aware of the legal status, penalties, and alternatives of cannabis in the state, and exercise caution and responsibility when using cannabis or any cannabis-related products.

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