Possession of marijuana in Georgia remains illegal despite recent legislation regarding medicinal marijuana. Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor offense. However, marijuana charges can be much more serious. Such examples would be Possession of More than One Ounce, Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute, Sale of Marijuana, or Manufacturing/Growing Marijuana, all of which are felony charges.

Penalties

Possession of Marijuana less than one ounce is considered a misdemeanor and can be punishable by a fine of up to $1000 and 12 months in jail. Further, judges typically impose extra penalties. Some common examples of these penalties are drug evaluations, drug treatment, random drug testing, DUI School, and community service. A marijuana charge such as this could also result in a suspension of your driver’s license.

Felony marijuana charges can be punishable by prison time ranging up to 15 years, with fines as high as $1 million depending on the type of felony marijuana charge. The court can also impose many of the same additional conditions that are mentioned above for misdemeanor marijuana.

In addition to the punishment delivered by the court, there are many adverse consequences outside of the court’s sentence. Such consequences might include a suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum period of 6 months. This is considered a hard suspension, meaning that during this hard suspension you will be unable to obtain a limited driving permit for work, school, etc. Further, license suspensions based on drug convictions do not run concurrent to other license suspensions one may presently be serving. What that means is this extra suspension of your license will not start until any preexisting suspensions on your license are completed. Unfortunately there are even more steps to getting your license back after all of these suspensions are completed. Once the duration of all suspensions are over, individuals must complete a DUI school and pay a reinstatement fee in order to have their license reinstated.

Handling the Marijuana Charge

There are several ways to handle a felony or misdemeanor marijuana charge.

In some cases, the court may allow the charge to be dismissed and/or even expunged/restricted from your record if you complete a Diversion Program. Many counties in Georgia require that you be represented by an attorney in order to enter into a diversion program. Often, upon successful completion of a Diversion Program, the charges will dismissed and removed from your criminal history. Also important to note is that the use of a Diversion Program will prevent your license from being suspended.

Another option is to resolve your case by utilizing either Conditional Discharge or First Offender’s Act. There are qualifications for each of these options which will be further explained in a follow- up article on our website. When a sentence is served under Conditional Discharge or First Offender’s Act, the charge is discharged or dismissed upon successful completion of the sentence. Utilizing either of these options will also save your license from being suspended and could result in the charge being removed from your criminal history or even restricted completely.

For misdemeanor marijuana, individuals may be eligible to enter a Nolo Contendre/ No Contest. This type of plea is in the discretion of the judge and can only be entered once every 5 years. Pleading Nolo Contendre will not keep the charge off of your record. However, it can sometimes prevent your driver’s license from being suspended.

If you are facing a marijuana charge, please contact Attorney Minerva Blanchette at (404) 997-8470 for a free consultation. With over 16 years of experience in drug cases, she can ensure that you receive the best possible outcome for your case.

Author: Minerva C. Blanchette
Cansino Blanchette Law Firm, LLC