Marijuana arrests continue in Georgia as other states push for legalization. On May 2, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents made their third major marijuana grow operation bust in two weeks. Located in Avondale Estates, agents found 400 plants in a warehouse that had lighting, watering, and air filtration systems. The growers also had a room dedicated to drying and grinding the plants.
The day before this finding, agents seized more than 500 plants with a street value of around a half million dollars in Franklin County. Just 10 days earlier, agents found 500 plants and more than 100 pounds of packaged marijuana in Heard County. Agents do not believe the operations are connected, but believe the drugs were going to be sold in Georgia.
Georgia Marijuana Laws
Traditionally Georgia has had strict laws regarding the use and sale of marijuana. Marijuana arrests are prominent throughout the state. The possession, trafficking, cultivation, and sale of marijuana is illegal in Georgia, although the law allows one very limited use of marijuana.
House Bill 1, known as Haleigh’s Hope Act, permits certain patients to use cannabis oil with a low percentage of THC. Doctors can prescribe this oil to those with debilitating, severe cases of epilepsy. However, those who do purchase the oil for medical reasons are subject to a cannabis tax stamp law. This mandates that anyone who possesses the drug must purchase the drug stamp from the state. Any non-stamped marijuana that authorities seize is subject to a tax of $3.50 per gram up to 42.5 grams.
Proposed Changes to Marijuana Laws
Laws in the state continue to evolve, and a new proposal to legalize marijuana across the state is going through State Senate. Senate Bill 614 would legalize marijuana and regulate proceeds from its sale to anyone over the age of 21. Nonetheless, the drug would only be available for purchase in small amounts for personal use. Proponents of the bill say that if the state used the same tax rate as Colorado, they could bring in $340 million a year that could be split between transportation and education.
Penalties for Marijuana Arrests
Because it is currently illegal to possess, sell, traffic, or manufacture marijuana in Georgia, there are strict penalties that go along with all marijuana arrests. When a violation involves between one ounce and 10 pounds, the offender will be charged with a felony. Such an offense is punishable by one to 10 years in prison. Further penalties may apply if the violation involved a minor or the offense occurred in a drug-free zone.
- Trafficking Marijuana Penalties. Bringing between 10 and 2,000 pounds of marijuana into the state carries a minimum prison sentence of at least five years and a fine of $100,000; 2,000 to 10,000 pounds has a minimum of seven years in prison and a fine of $250,000; and 10,000 pounds or more has a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years and a fine of $1,000,000.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Penalties. Violation of this law is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Additionally, if the possession of paraphernalia is by a minor, the person selling to the minor may receive the same penalty. Each subsequent offense carries an increased penalty punishable by up to five years in jail and a fine of $5,000.
- Selling Marijuana Penalties. All sales of marijuana in the state of Georgia are considered felonies. Depending on the amount sold, the seller faces penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. These fines and prison time can increase if the sale takes place in a drug-free or school zone.
- Growing/Manufacturing Marijuana Penalties. It is a felony to grow or manufacture marijuana in Georgia. Depending on the amount grown, the penalty can be as high as 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. Prison times and fines may increase if the growing or manufacturing is taking place within 1,000 feet of a school, housing project, park, or other drug-free zone.
- Simple Possession of Marijuana Penalties. Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for personal use is a misdemeanor. This offense has a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
How an Attorney can Help
If you have been charged with possession, selling, trafficking, or manufacturing marijuana you should consult with an experienced criminal attorney to see what defenses might be available for your case. The attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law have the knowledge and experience to represent you when you face the criminal justice system. Not everyone subject to marijuana arrests is guilty. Even those who are can get better outcomes with legal counsel. Therefore, Lankford & Moore Law’s attorneys can be sure you get the representation you deserve.