While the national attitudes on drugs such as marijuana are beginning to
shift, in Georgia, it is still very much a crime to be in possession of
a controlled substance. The State’s drug policy follows federal
guidelines closely and classifies drugs into one of five “schedules”
based on recognized medical uses and the probability for abuse. These
categories include drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine
as well as many of the compounds used in their production.
Penalties for the Possession of a Controlled Substance
According to Georgia legal code § 16-13-30, it is against the law
to purchase or possess a controlled substance. Each drug offense is looked
at on an individual basis and while punishments can be influenced by numerous
factors, penalties can depend largely on the “schedule” of
a substance and the amount of the drug in question. With few exceptions,
possession of a controlled substance is a felony and, in the least severe
circumstances, can be punishable by a minimum sentence of one year in
jail. In many cases, punishments can be substantially more severe.
Punishments can include:
- Possession of a schedule I or schedule II substance is punishable by two
to 15 years in prison. A second conviction can lead to a prison sentence
of five to 30 years.
- Possession of a schedule III, schedule IV, or schedule V substance is punishable
by one to five years in prison. A second offense can be punishable by
one to ten years in prison.
Crimes involving the possession of marijuana are charged following a different
guideline. Typically, penalties correlate directly with the amount of
marijuana in question. Possession of one ounce or less is one of the few
examples where the crime is a misdemeanor and it is punishable by up to
one year in jail. Crimes involving more than one ounce are felonies punishable
by one to ten years in prison.
In addition to the drugs themselves, certain drug paraphernalia may also
be illegal to possess. For example, an object that is used in relation
to the use, cultivation, packing, or concealment of a controlled substance
may be met with a misdemeanor charge.