Is It Legal to Grow Hemp in Georgia?
Is it ever acceptable to grow cannabis in Georgia? Yes, as long as you’re growing hemp and not marijuana and as long as you have the right permits. Hemp, a variety of cannabis that is low on THC (a chemical that causes the “high” associated with marijuana) and high on CBD (a chemical that neutralizes THC) is a versatile plant with plenty of potential uses. However, growing hemp was only legalized recently, and you need to make sure you’ve filled out the correct paperwork before you even consider growing your own hemp in Georgia.
As lawmakers push to decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, and the debate over the legal status of cannabis continues to rage on, you may find yourself wondering about the legality of cannabis in Georgia. As a citizen of Georgia, when, if ever are you allowed to legally purchase and consume cannabis? Are CBD and medical marijuana legal in Georgia? What kind of legal penalties will you face if you’re caught with cannabis in Georgia? Contact the Don Turner Legal Team if you have any further questions about Georgia’s marijuana laws and how they affect you.
Is Marijuana Legal in Georgia?
How do Georgia’s marijuana laws measure up compared to other states? As this map shows, the Peach State is fairly strict on marijuana usage and possession compared to places like California, New York, or Washington, where cannabis is fully legal. At the same time, unlike its neighbors, Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina, cannabis is not entirely illegal in Georgia either. Certain kinds of cannabis products are legal to possess in Georgia, although traditional leafy green marijuana and its derivatives (such as THC oil or edibles) certainly aren’t.
Note that the possession of very small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in select cities and counties. Decriminalization is not the same thing as legalization – if you are caught with less than one ounce of marijuana in these cities and counties, you can still face a fine of up to $150.00. However, decriminalization does mean you cannot be prosecuted for possessing small amounts of marijuana – you might be fined, but you won’t have to worry about being arrested or having a charge on your criminal record.
What About Hemp and CBD in Georgia?
2019’s Georgia Hemp Faming Act has made hemp products more widespread than ever before. Hemp-derived products, such as CBD oil are legal to own… as long as they contain less than 2% THC. Buying only from reputable sellers can help you ensure your CBD products fulfill this requirement. Note that Georgia law does not allow CBD to be added into foods, beverages, or animal feeds, and you can lose your business license if your products violate this stipulation
Smoking hemp is not technically illegal in Georgia. However, because hemp and marijuana look identical, and it is difficult for law enforcement to test the plants for THC levels, police are now allowed to arrest you for possession of any cannabis plant. This means that if you smoke hemp publicly, you could be detained by the police under suspicion of smoking marijuana. Know your rights and be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if this happens to you.
Can I Get Medical Marijuana in Georgia?
Georgia citizens with specific medical conditions, such as end-stage cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, or severe multiple sclerosis can apply for a low THC Registry Card. This card allows Georgia residents to legally purchase and possess cannabis oil containing less than 5% THC (and an equal amount of CBD) for medical use. Unfortunately, although it has been possible to register to use medical cannabis oil in Georgia since 2015, a lack of licensed dispensaries has made it impossible to legally purchase it in-state.
Happily, this may be changing in the near-future. Nearly 70 businesses have applied to produce medical cannabis oil in Georgia as of February 2021. Once these companies are approved, it is only a matter of time until the tens of thousands of Georgia citizens with low-THC registry cards can finally buy their cannabis oil in-state. Just be sure to keep your medical cannabis oil in a labeled pharmaceutical container that clearly states the percentage of THC it contains and be certain you always have your registry card on your person.
What If I’m Caught with Marijuana in Georgia?
As you can see, there are specific circumstances that allow you to possess cannabis in Georgia. However, for the most part, marijuana is still very much illegal, and you will face criminal penalties for possessing it. If you are caught with less than an ounce of marijuana in most parts of Georgia, expect to pay a fine of up to $1,000.00 and face up to one year in prison. If you are caught with more than one ounce, you will be looking at fines of up to $5,000.00, up to 10 years in prison, and a felony charge on your record. That is nothing to take lightly.
Georgia law enforcement is even harsher on marijuana derivatives, such as high-THC oil. Georgia law punishes possession of high-THC oil by weight, not volume – this means that getting caught with an ounce worth of pot brownies could lead to a 15-year prison sentence! Possessing marijuana with intent to sell can also have terribly steep consequences, especially if you are within 1,000 feet of school grounds, a park, or a housing project, or in a drug free zone. That’s a charge which could lead to up to 40 year in prison, along with a fine of $40,000.00.
Perhaps someday marijuana will be decriminalized or even legalized in Georgia, just as it is elsewhere in America. Until that day comes, make sure you are aware of Georgia’s cannabis laws and know your rights when it comes to possessing cannabis products in Georgia. Contact the Don Turner Legal Team if you have any questions about Georgia’s cannabis laws or are facing criminal charges related to cannabis possession and see how our attorneys can help you.