While an increasing number of states have legalized the use and possession of marijuana, Georgia continues to enforce stricter laws concerning the use of cannabis.

Eleven states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. While 33 states have medical marijuana programs, Georgia only allows “qualified persons” to possess up to 20 ounces of low-THC cannabis oil for medicinal use.

What is Haleigh’s Hope Act?

The bill is named after Haleigh Cox, who was 5 years old when the law went into effect in April of 2015. Haleigh suffered from hundreds of seizures a day and received no relief from drugs that were meant to control them. The law legalized the use of cannabis oil for certain types of illnesses and disorders, including:

  • Seizure disorders
  • Cancer
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Sickle cell disease

These conditions were added in 2017:

  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • AIDS
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Epidermolysis bullosa

40% of all U.S. drug arrests involve marijuana

According to the FBI, four out of every 10 drug arrests across the country in 2018 involved marijuana. Here are the agency’s key findings for that year:

  • 1.65 million drug arrests were made in the U.S.
  • 663,000 were for marijuana-related offenses
  • 92% of marijuana arrests were for possession
  • 8% were for selling or manufacturing the drug

Georgia’s marijuana laws remain relatively strict

Under Georgia drug laws, possession of one ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor and punishable by one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Being convicted of having more than an ounce is a felony and can bring a sentence of up to 10 years.

While the weed remains illegal in the state, some counties offer alternative sentencing programs, including treatment options instead of jail time. Eleven cities, including Atlanta and Savannah, have decriminalized possession of an ounce or less, resulting in no jail time and reduced fines.

Drug convictions in Georgia can have harsh consequences

Despite attempts by some localities to lessen the impact of minor drug offenses, controlled substance violations can be complicated and result in severe consequences if you are charged with a drug crime in the Peach State. The help of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be crucial to protecting your future.