A conservative state, Georgia has historically been resistant to cannabis legislation. However, the state has taken a small favorable step forward by passing a medical CBD oil law. Further progress toward a comprehensive medical marijuana law or the legalization of recreational use, however, does not appear to be forthcoming.
Recreational Marijuana in Georgia
Recreational marijuana is illegal in Georgia. Possession of up to 1 ounce is a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $6,000. First-time offenders may be given a conditional discharge, which can include the payment of fines and community service. Possession of any amount for non-personal use will be charged as a felony, punishable by a 1-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum fine of $15,000. The sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana is dealt with even more harshly with jail terms ranging from 2 years to life and a maximum fine of $60,000.
In October 2017, the Atlanta City Council unanimously voted to decriminalize marijuana in the city of Atlanta. The new policy eliminates jail times for individuals caught with less than an ounce of marijuana.
Medical Marijuana in Georgia
Georgia’s policy on medical marijuana took a turn for the better on April 16, 2015 when Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 1. While the law is far from a comprehensive medical marijuana law, the law does legalize the use of up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil containing up to 5% percent THC — for patients suffering from various illnesses. In May 2018, Gov. Deal signed into law House Bill 65 to expand the program to include two new qualifying conditions — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intractable pain.
Georgia’s medical marijuana law initially left patients with no way to legally buy cannabis even if they did qualify through a doctor’s approval to participate in the program. In April 2019, Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a bill to allow medical marijuana to be grown and sold in Georgia. While medical marijuana sales are now legal, it will likely take over a year before state-licensed medical marijuana is available for patients to purchase.
Under Georgia’s medical marijuana law, the use of low-THC cannabis oil is legal for medical patients diagnosed with:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Intractable Pain – effective July 1, 2018
- Mitochondrial Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – effective July 1, 2018
- Seizure Disorders
- Sickle Cell Disease
Consumption of CBD from Hemp Oil in Georgia
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Georgia
It is illegal to cultivate marijuana in Georgia for any purpose. Marijuana cultivation is a felony offense in Georgia and can lead to incarceration from 1 to 10 years.
In April 2019, a bill allowing Georgia farmers to grow hemp for CBD oils and other products was approved by Georgia lawmakers. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law on Friday, May 10, 2019. Under the law, licensed Georgia farmers will be able to grow hemp crops, which can then be used to make CBD oil, rope, and other items.
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