An Overview of Drug Possession Crimes in Georgia

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.