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Georgia marijuana laws

Is marijuana legal in Georgia?

Current legality status

illegal


Cannabis is illegal under state law.

Marijuana is illegal in Georgia.

Georgia does have a high-CBD/low-THC medical cannabis law, but the law is so restrictive that Georgia is not considered a legal medical marijuana state.

In Georgia, low-THC products are allowed up to 5% total THC (Delta 8 and Delta 9), so long as they contain more CBD than THC.

Georgia had over 28,000 marijuana arrests in 2016 (the last year data is available), and over 90% of those were for possession alone. The ACLU’s 2013 report, The War on Marijuana in Black and White, found that black people in Georgia were 3.7 times as likely as white people to get arrested for marijuana possession.

The penalties for marijuana in Georgia are complicated. It is a state with no laws against public consumption and no penalties for hash possession if you have over four grams, but it also has draconian mandatory minimum laws (including life for manufacturing) and even a law banning beer or other products flavored to taste like cannabis or hemp.

Here is an overview of penalties for marijuana or hash possession, manufacturing, cultivation, distribution, or paraphernalia in Georgia.

PossessionAmountJail time 
Personal Use1 oz. or less.1 year
 Over 1 oz.1* – 10 years (*mandatory minimum)
With Intent to Distribute10 lbs. or less1* – 10 years
 10 – 2,000 lbs.5* – 30 years
School zone5* – 40 years
Hash or Concentrates  
Possession<1g1* – 3 years
Possession1-4g1* – 8 years
Possession of a dab rig1* – 15 years
Sale or Delivery10 lbs. or less1* – 10 years
Cultivation10 lbs. or less1* – 10 years
Paraphernalia  
Possession or sale1 year

Local decriminalization in Georgia

Since 2016, Eleven cities and counties in Georgia have acted to decriminalize cannabis possession, including Atlanta, Savannah, Fulton County, and Macon-Bibb County. Decriminalization does not mean legalization; it generally involves lowering penalties for low-level cannabis possession from a felony or misdemeanor (criminal) level to a monetary fine (civil) level.

The recently introduced Georgia Justice Act, which is being considered by state legislators, would decriminalize the possession of up to half an ounce, punishable by a fine of up to $300. Possession of up to two ounces would be decriminalized, but would come with a $1,000 fine or up to a year of community service.

Medical CBD in Georgia

At present, Georgia’s CBD-only cannabis producers exist in a bit of a Wild West environment, as the state has no laws or regulations that constrain the industry. Members of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission were just appointed in Nov. 2019, and they just hired an executive director in May 2020. While there are no regulations, there is some statutory guidance for patients and businesses to follow.

There is no home growing allowed but patients are allowed to legally carry up to 20 ounces of infused CBD oil (over a pound), as long as the content of that oil contains less than 0.5% THC.

Qualifying conditions in Georgia

Georgia allows several different specific qualifying conditions for patients who wish to use low-THC CBD products. Those conditions are:

  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Intractable Pain
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome
  • Severe or end stage Peripheral neuropathy
  • Seizure disorder
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Tourette syndrome

The law also allows hospice care patients with any condition to access low-THC marijuana.

How to get a low-THC medical CBD card in Georgia

  1. The first step to becoming a medical CBD patient in Georgia is to talk to your doctor and have them submit your application—which is a waiver signed by you and the doctor—and a physician’s certification form.
  2. Once approved, you will need to go to one of twenty Public Health Offices across Georgia and pay $25 to pick up a medical card, which will be good for two years from the date of issue.
  3. There are limits on who is eligible to be a patient. In Georgia, a medical CBD patient or caregiver needs to be an adult with one or more of the qualifying conditions, the legal guardian of an adult who has a qualifying condition, or the parent of a minor child who has one or more of the qualifying conditions.

Does Georgia accept out-of-state medical marijuana cards?

Yes and no. Out-of-state residents with a medical marijuana card from their home state are allowed to possess only the same kind of low-THC medical CBD products that are legal in Georgia. This is a law, Senate Bill 16, that passed in 2017.

So a card-carrying medical marijuana patient from, say, Ohio, is legal as long as the products they possess contain less than 0.5% THC. Note: Most medical marijuana products sold legally in other states contain far more than 0.5% THC, because the THC content is the major active medical ingredient.

Another limit on Georgia’s reciprocity is that it only lasts until the individual “has been present in this state for 45 days.” The use of “present” seems to imply that if you leave Georgia for any period of time, even going to Alabama for a cup of coffee or trip to the store, your 45 day clock resets, as you would no longer have been present for a solid 45 days.

Got your medical card? Find a dispensary in Georgia

Georgia marijuana growing laws

Growing a little cannabis is a big no-no in Georgia. You’re looking at a minimum one year in jail plus a maximum $5,000 fine for growing a single plant that weighs under 10 pounds wet. Only a handful of licensed cultivators may grow cannabis for the medical CBD program.

Georgia public consumption laws

Georgia does not appear to have any public consumption laws on the books, but Georgia has a Marijuana Tax Stamp law on its books requiring marijuana to bear a stamp or the person possessing it could be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Georgia also has a law prohibiting the abandonment of controlled substances in public places, so be sure to not leave any crumbs or twigs behind because you might be looking at up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Georgia cannabis DUI laws

Like everywhere else, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Georgia, even if you have a medical marijuana card prescribed by a doctor. Even if you are not technically impaired, there is still a risk of being charged with a DUI for using legal low-THC products.

Any amount of marijuana present in a driver’s blood or urine, including metabolites and derivatives, shall be considered a violation of Georgia Code. Drivers in Georgia have implied consent to chemical tests, and a refusal to submit to a test shall result in a license suspension for a minimum of one year, upon which the driver may request a hearing within 10 business days of the incident.

Georgia’s police operate on a Plain Smell Doctrine, which simply means if police smell (or claim to smell) any sort of contraband, including marijuana, they may search a vehicle. While there is no specific statute defining the Plain Smell Doctrine in state law, there is case law that cannabis patients should look to, most notably Caffee v. State.

The penalties are severe for intoxicated driving on any substance in Georgia, starting at a minimum of 10 days in jail (or up to a year behind bars) and subsequent violations resulting in potentially five years in jail.

Marijuana DUIClassImprisonment
First OffenseMisdemeanor10 days* – 1 year
Second OffenseMisdemeanor90 days* – 1 year
Third OffenseMisdemeanor120 days* – 1 year
Fourth OffenseMisdemeanor1* – 5 years

Georgia cannabis testing regulations

Georgia had no testing requirements for low-THC CBD products until the Georgia’s Hope Act was passed in 2019. In addition to independent labs, “a designated university” may also test marijuana products.

At present, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission requires low-THC CBD oil be “analyzed for potency, foreign matter, microbial presence, pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents.” The Commission has not yet established testing limits but will work with the State Board of Pharmacy to figure out standards and procedures for testing.

If a product fails a test it “shall be destroyed by the licensee” and it does not appear that they have the chance to perform any remediation.

Common questions about marijuana in Georgia

Is Georgia recreational?

No, Georgia is not a recreational marijuana state, but it has a limited CBD-only medical program.

Is CBD legal in Georgia?

Yes, CBD oil is legal in Georgia if it has under 0.5% THC and at least that amount of CBD, and is in the possession of a registered medical-CBD patient.

Is smokable hemp allowed in Georgia?

That is a gray area. While Georgia’s Hope Act explicitly bans vaping low-THC oil, it does not mention smoking once, so arguably you could legally smoke low-THC oil, but it must be an oil.

Are edibles legal in Georgia?

No, Georgia’s Hope Act only allows you to use oils, tinctures, transdermal patches, lotions, or capsules, and it specifically prohibits “food products infused with low THC oil.”

Can you get a medical CBD card in Georgia?

Yes, you will need to consult with your physician in Georgia for legal access to CBD.

What are the medical CBD program’s qualifying conditions?

  • AIDS
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Intractable Pain
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome
  • Severe or end stage Peripheral neuropathy
  • Seizure disorder
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Tourette’s syndrome

Hospice care patients with any condition can also access low-THC marijuana in Georgia.

Learn more about marijuana legalization in Georgia

Keep up with the latest news about legalization in Georgia

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Post last updated Sept. 7, 2020