Georgia Marijuana Laws
Updated August 2019
A conservative state, Georgia has historically been resistant to cannabis legislation. However, the state has taken a small favorable step forward by passing a low-THC medical cannabis oil law. Further progress toward a comprehensive medical marijuana law or the legalization of recreational use, however, does not appear to be forthcoming. Learn more about Georgia marijuana laws below.
Recreational Marijuana in Georgia
While a majority of voters in Georgia favor marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana remains illegal in Georgia. Possession of up to 1 ounce is a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $6,000. First-time offenders may be given a conditional discharge, which can include the payment of fines and community service. Possession of any amount for non-personal use will be charged as a felony, punishable by a 1-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum fine of $15,000. The sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana is dealt with even more harshly with jail terms ranging from 2 years to life and a maximum fine of $60,000.
In October 2017, the Atlanta City Council unanimously voted to decriminalize marijuana in the city of Atlanta. The new policy eliminates jail times for individuals caught with less than an ounce of marijuana.
Medical Marijuana in Georgia
Georgia’s policy on medical marijuana took a turn for the better on April 16, 2015 when Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 1. While the law is far from a comprehensive medical marijuana law, the law does legalize the use of up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil containing up to 5% percent THC — for patients suffering from various illnesses. In May 2018, Gov. Deal signed into law House Bill 65 to expand the program to include two new qualifying conditions — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intractable pain.
Georgia’s medical marijuana law initially left patients with no way to legally buy cannabis even if they did qualify through a doctor’s approval to participate in the program. In April 2019, Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill to allow medical marijuana to be grown and sold in Georgia. While medical marijuana sales are now legal, it will likely take over a year before state-licensed medical marijuana is available for patients to purchase.
Under Georgia’s medical marijuana law, the use of low-THC cannabis oil is legal for medical patients diagnosed with:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Intractable Pain
- Mitochondrial Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Seizure Disorders
- Sickle Cell Disease
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Georgia
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Georgia
It is illegal to cultivate marijuana in Georgia for any purpose. Marijuana cultivation is a felony offense in Georgia and can lead to incarceration from 1 to 10 years.
In April 2019, a bill allowing Georgia farmers to grow hemp for CBD oils and other products was approved by Georgia lawmakers. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law on Friday, May 10, 2019. Under the law, licensed Georgia farmers will be able to grow hemp crops, which can then be used to make CBD oil, rope, and other items.
Legal Status of Other U.S. States
Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.
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Medical marijuana cards show big rise in Georgia
The number of Georgians with cards allowing possession of medical cannabis has soared more than 70 percent in one year.
Currently, 14,511 people in Georgia have permission to possess ‘‘low THC oil,’’ officials of the state’s Department of Public Health said this week. That’s up from 8,402 about a year ago.
THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, the one that gives users a “high.”
The increase in cardholders comes despite the fact that it’s currently illegal to bring medical marijuana into the state.
Since 2015, Georgia has allowed people with several medical conditions to possess the oil, and it maintains a list of “permitted conditions” that can qualify a patient to do so.
Last year, the state Legislature approved a bill allowing production and sale of medical marijuana in Georgia.
A new commission has been formed to figure out how to produce or import the low THC oil.
The leading health condition among cardholders is “intractable pain,’’ which was added to the list of permitted conditions in 2017. That’s followed by peripheral neuropathy, cancer, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, autism and Crohn’s disease.
Chris Rustin of the Department of Public Health said Tuesday at the agency’s board meeting that the new medical marijuana cards have enhanced security features. He said the agency is producing up to 500 cards per month.
Georgia’s medical marijuana law allows qualified patients to legally possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil, derived from the marijuana plant.
Colin Smith, clinical assistant professor in Georgia State University’s School of Public Health, said Wednesday that the increase in Georgia cardholders probably reflects current pain management practices.
“Physicians are moving away from prescribing opioids,’’ Smith said. Doctors are seeing low THC oil as an “alternative solution’’ to opioids, he said, even though it’s illegal to import the product into Georgia.
Currently almost 1,000 physicians have registered to prescribe medical marijuana in Georgia.
The new commission is tasked with developing the rules, regulations and licensing process to go with the 2019 Georgia law that authorizes medical cannabis cultivation.
The law will allow up to six licensed companies to grow cannabis in secure greenhouses and manufacture a liquid that’s low in THC.
The liquid will be available via some number of retail locations to Georgians who have a medical cannabis card, according to an article in SaportaReport.
Longtime advocates of medical cannabis, such as patients and their families, were also in the audience at the commission’s December meeting. They included Shannon and Blaine Cloud and their 14-year-old daughter Alaina, who takes medical cannabis oil to treat a severe seizure disorder.
Shannon Cloud told GHN on Wednesday that people currently “have to be creative’’ to obtain the oil, adding that this “involves risks” of running afoul of the law.
“We need a way to purchase the oil in Georgia” legally, she said.
Cloud, a Smyrna resident, said she’s optimistic that Georgia will set up a system for people to get medical marijuana here. “It’s frustrating [that] it’s taking a while to get it going,’’ she said.
But once the system is in place, she added, “I think the [cardholder] numbers will increase a lot.’’Medical marijuana cards show big rise in Georgia The number of Georgians with cards allowing possession of medical cannabis has soared more than 70 percent in one year. Currently, 14,511 ]]>