While recreational marijuana use is only legal in a handful of states, thirteen states have decriminalized the drug. Decriminalizing pot means removing hefty criminal penalties for possessing relatively small amounts of the substance.

Georgia is far from decriminalizing marijuana, with severe penalties in place for possessing more than an ounce of the plant.

Marijuana possession in Georgia

In Georgia, having more than one ounce of marijuana makes an enormous difference in the penalties you could face.

Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana could land a defendant in jail for up to one year under misdemeanor charges. Defendants also face up to a $1,000 fine for the violation. In comparison, Minnesota charges those who possess up to an ounce and a half of marijuana (42.5 grams) with petty misdemeanor charges, punishable by a $200 fine and possible drug education program.

If you were to possess 42.5 grams of marijuana or any amount over an ounce but less than ten pounds in Georgia, you can be punished on felony charges and face between one and ten years in prison.

The spread of marijuana legality

The partial legality of marijuana in the United States is somewhat of a wonder, considering that the federal government’s Controlled Substance Act has deemed the substance dangerous and without any accepted medical use (Schedule 1).

Yet, today, medical marijuana is legal in 30 states — more than half of the country. Nine states allow marijuana to be used recreationally and this November, four states will vote on marijuana initiatives.

For those who live in Georgia, marijuana possession charges can be difficult to navigate during this time of conflicting opinion over the substance. For help defending your case, contact an experienced criminal law attorney.