Many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use to some degree. The only step Georgia has taken in that direction is to allow some people to use marijuana for medical purposes, but even then, the law is highly restrictive.
Thus, if you are caught using marijuana recreationally in the state, you are likely to face charges. That could be particularly shocking if you are a student who came from another state where smoking weed with friends was no big deal.
What sentence could I face?
The penalties depend on the quantity of the drug:
- Under an ounce: Provided that you can show it was only for personal use, you should be charged with a misdemeanor. Yet, even this could carry a sentence of up to 12 months behind bars or a $1,000 fine. First-time offenders can, however, try for a conditional discharge with a fine and community service.
- Over an ounce: Possessing this much for personal use is a felony, and sentences range from one to ten years behind bars.
Prosecutors may, however, accuse you of having the drugs to sell or traffic to others
Even a small amount could see them pushing for up to 10 years in prison and a felony charge. Larger quantities can see fines of up to a million dollars and a 15-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors prefer not to go to court, which is why they often try to increase the charges or sentences to get you to accept a plea deal. Do not listen to them without first taking legal advice. There are many ways to contest drug charges that the prosecutors won’t tell you and you might not realize.