While much of the nation is re-evaluating the benefits of legal recreational and medical marijuana, Georgia lawmakers are not initiating such reforms. Instead, simple possession of more than an ounce of marijuana could lead to felony charges. Possessing less than an ounce also carries significant penalties for violating state laws regulating drugs in Georgia.

Georgia does have a medical marijuana law in place that allows those with medical prescriptions to benefit from the healing effects of the drug. They cannot use flowers or concentrates, however; they only can use low-THC oil and must obtain a registry card to legally purchase their medicine.

The state lists various drugs among five schedules of controlled substances based on accepted medicinal value and the potential for abuse. Like the federal government, Georgia lists marijuana in its flower and concentrate forms as a Schedule I drug with no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. That ranks marijuana right up there with meth, cocaine and heroin in the minds of many Georgia governmental officials.

With state officials taking a hard stance against legal marijuana, the penalties for possession can run high. If someone is caught with marijuana in its flower or concentrated form, a felony charge could be the result. Anyone caught with 1 ounce or less of marijuana could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. When the amount of marijuana is more than 1 ounce, the penalty rises greatly. Prosecutors could charge a person with a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, with one year mandatory, and up to a $5,000 fine if convicted.

If a person is dealing with drug charges in Georgia, an attorney experienced in the state’s enforcement of laws against drugs may help to ensure a fair hearing. A criminal defense attorney may help a defendant assess whether it might be beneficial to negotiate a plea bargain or go to trial.