Punishment for Marijuana Manufacturing and Possession in Georgia
Although possession of one ounce or less is a misdemeanor, possession of 28 grams of marijuana or more is a felony punishable by one to ten years in prison. A conviction for manufacturing marijuana is also a felony with a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
In general, manufacturing a drug means the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of a controlled substance. Manufacturing marijuana could take place if you made the drug with a plant or a chemical synthesis of the drug. Packaging and/or labeling the drug could also qualify as manufacturing.
Small “grows” for personal use are not always punished too severely, but a person caught with dozens of cannabis plants more than a few inches tall may face years of jail time. Most marijuana manufacturing cases involve either fields of marijuana, widely scattered plants in a rural location, or a “grow house.” State owned helicopters frequently patrol looking for the distinctive green color of marijuana. Once a patch is located, DEA agents will descend on the location.
The punishment is the same for possession of marijuana with or without intent to distribute. If the amount is ten pounds or more, however, the charge will be upgraded to marijuana trafficking.
Best Defenses to Marijuana Charges
If the police or DEA agent stopped you when you had marijuana in your vehicle or on your person, there are only a few defenses available to you. Defenses to marijuana arrests include:
- An unlawful search and seizure could result in the evidence being suppressed and the case being dismissed.
- Unknowingly possessing the drug is a possible defense if the drugs were in a common area, if others had equal access to the drug or if the drug was placed in your belongings without your knowledge.
- If you are arrested for conspiracy charges, lack of knowledge regarding the drug’s presence is a possible defense. The same is true if you did not know a drug transaction was planned to take place.
- If your drug arrest was your first offense, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate your penalties as well as minimize the damage to your record and reputation.
Medical Marijuana in Georgia
Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Georgia as a result of Haleigh’s Hope Act, but there are many restrictions to the laws regarding the substance. Medical marijuana in the form of “low THC oil” is the only variety permitted. (THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol.) The oil comes from the marijuana plant, and certain persons are allowed to possess up to 20 ounces of the substance.
Who May Use Medical Marijuana?
The Georgia Department of Public Health states that people suffering from the following 8 diseases are permitted to take medical marijuana for relief from their symptoms:
(1) cancer, when the disease has reached end stage, or the treatment produces related wasting illness, recalcitrant nausea and vomiting;
(2) seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries;
(3) severe or end stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease);
(4) severe or end stage multiple sclerosis,
(5) severe or end stage Parkinson’s disease;
(6) severe or end stage sickle cell disease;
(7) Crohn’s disease; and
(8) mitochondrial disease.
Individuals suffering from the above diseases must apply for the Low THC Oil Registry Card to avoid prosecution for possession of medical marijuana. Parents or legal guardians also need to obtain the registry cards if they handle the drug. Georgia law requires that whoever applies for the card must have lived in the state for at least a year.
A patient’s physician completes the necessary paperwork for registration, and the card is then mailed to one of Georgia’s 18 Public Health Offices. Each card costs $25.
Limitations of Georgia’s Medical Marijuana Law
It’s important to note that the only form of medical marijuana allowed in Georgia is low THC oil. Possession of any other medical form of marijuana will result in an arrest, regardless if you were legally prescribed the substance in another state.
Doctors are also not permitted to prescribe medical marijuana—even in the oil form. You may only use the substance if you have an existing prescription.
Only a criminal defense attorney can help you if you were arrested for possession of medical marijuana. If you face conviction for marijuana possession, contact Banks, Stubbs and McFarland today!
Did Atlanta Decriminalize Marijuana Possession?
In October 2017, the city of Atlanta made history for minimizing the penalties for marijuana possession. Now, if a person is caught with less than an ounce of marijuana in the city, the penalty is $75 and no jail time.
Unfortunately, many people are confused by the law, as a person caught with marijuana in Atlanta may still face harsh fines up to $1,000 and jail time. In short, the police officer determines if the person is charged with either possession at either the city or state level. Police officers with POST certification have the power to choose which law to apply to the arrest.
Don’t assume you know what the penalty will be if you were arrested for marijuana possession in Atlanta. Our offices serve clients throughout North Georgia and we’ll help you understand the drug charges you face.