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What You Should Know About Georgia Drug Laws


Georgia’s drug laws are notoriously strict. So if you or someone you know has been arrested for a drug-related charge in the Peach State, you must understand how Georgia’s drug laws work.

The state regulates the possession of both legal and illegal drugs, and each classification has different penalties. A conviction for possession of even small amounts of some types of drugs can have severe penalties, including prison time.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug-related offense in Georgia, you need to know what to expect. Today, we’ll take a closer look at Georgia drug laws so that you can stay informed.

Types of Drug Charges in Georgia

There are several classifications of drug-related crimes in Georgia. These classifications are purchase, possession, distribution, sale, and manufacturing.

  • Drug possession: Anyone caught with an illegal substance can be charged with drug possession.
  • Intent to Distribute: If a person is found in possession of an “excessive” amount of certain drugs, they can be charged with intent to distribute.
  • Drug Trafficking: The sale, production, manufacturing, or even possession of certain quantities of specific drugs can result in drug trafficking charges.
  • Production: The manufacturing of drugs for sale (this can lead to drug trafficking convictions as well).

Each type of charge has different penalties that range in severity depending on what substances are involved.

Controlled Substance Classifications

Georgia classifies substances into five different categories. Each class or schedule of drug classification carries varying penalties. These schedules are based on whether the drug has a high or low level of potential for abuse, if it has any medicinal uses, and whether the substance has a high or low potential for dependence.

Drugs are organized into Schedules—the lower the number, the more severe the classification and often the more severe the penalties. Schedule I drugs carry the harshest penalties. However, some Schedule II drugs also carry very severe penalties. Schedule V drugs tend to have the least harsh penalties, but these penalties can still include up to five years in prison for a first possession offense.

Possession Penalties

The penalties for being found in possession of a controlled substance vary depending on the Schedule of the substance. Possession is charged as a felony in Georgia, except in the case of marijuana.

If you are stopped by police and drug paraphernalia is found on your person or in your vehicle, you can be charged with possession.

  • Possession of any Schedule I or narcotic Schedule II substance is punishable with up to 2-15 years in prison for a first offense.
  • Possession of any non-narcotic Schedule II can be punishable with up to 2-15 years in prison for a first offense.
  • Possession of Schedule III, IV, or V substances can be punishable by up to 2-5 years in prison for a first offense.

For second and subsequent offenses, the prison time can be substantially higher. As felony offenses, drug charges in Georgia can have very serious consequences. You don’t want to try and face these charges without the help of a skilled attorney.

Marijuana Possession

While marijuana possession laws are less severe than other drug laws in Georgia, they still carry serious risks. A charge of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor, but the penalties for this crime can include a fine of up to $1000 and up to a year in prison.

If you are found in possession of more than one ounce of marijuana, you can be charged with a felony. The penalties for this type of charge include up to ten years in prison and mandatory fines of up to $5000.

In some cities, small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized, but laws are constantly changing. Don’t assume you know the law in your locality. Consult a lawyer immediately if you are charged with any drug-related crime in Georgia.

Negative Impact if Found in Possession

Being found guilty of a drug-related charge can have a negative impact on the rest of your life.

Being sentenced to prison means you can’t provide for your family. You’ll likely lose your job, and there will always be a criminal conviction on your record, potentially making it difficult to find future employment. On top of this, as a convicted felon, you lose your right to vote and own a firearm in the State of Georgia.

Your personal and professional relationships will be impacted. Your entire life could be affected. It’s not worth risking any of these by neglecting to seek help from an attorney.

Suspension of Driver’s License

If you are found to be in possession of a controlled substance in Georgia, your driver’s license will be suspended for a mandatory six-month period after the first conviction. Second and subsequent convictions can lead to a loss of your driver’s license for up to two years.

Andrew Schwartz Law Will Fight For Your Rights

Drug laws in Georgia are too complex to risk attempting to fight them without the help of a lawyer. Andrew L. Schwartz understands the complexities of the law and can help you have the best chance of avoiding serious penalties.

Andrew Schwartz Law has been serving Cobb County with experienced, proven legal defense strategies for years. We specialize in DUI cases and drug-related offenses, traffic crimes, and general criminal defense.

We do more than provide you with a knowledgeable Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer — we hold steadfast in defense of your rights as a citizen. Reach out to us now and get your free consultation.

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