Medical: Yes, limitedRecreational: illegalReciprocity: No
Cannabis regulation in Georgia is complicated, but the plant is still illegal. There is no adult-use market, thought several cities have decriminalized possession.
Georgia has a limited medical program but doesn’t consider itself a “medical marijuana” state as growing, possessing, or smoking any form of the plant is still illegal. The program was legalized in 2015 and patients with qualifying conditions can get a prescription for up to 20oz of low THC oil, capsules, patches, or lotion. But it is a medical program in name only, because as of June 2022 there were no licensed dispensaries in Georgia.
Several cities have decriminalized cannabis possession, but this is not statewide. In these areas, possession of one ounce is not a criminal charge, but a fine.
Atlanta: $75Clarkston: $75Forest Park: $100 – $300Fulton County: $75Kingsland: $150Macon-Bibb County: $75Savannah: $150South Fulton: $150Tybee Island: $150
Outside of these areas, possession of cannabis still ranges from a misdemeanor to a felony based on quantity.
Georgia’s medical cannabis program
In 2015, Georgia legalized possession of up 20 fl. oz of 5% or less THC oil for medical patients with qualifying conditions. But there were a myriad of problems with the rollout that persist today. In-state cultivation and distribution weren’t legalized until 2019. Despite having 20,000 registered patients in March of 2022, there are no licensed producers or distributors of cannabis products and sales are unlikely to start before mid-2023 at the earliest.
A 2021 bill expanded legal products to also include transdermal patches, lotions, and capsules, none of which can currently be legally purchased. The state has accepted applications for producers but has not issued any licenses. The law also has a small market cap of just six production licenses. There were bills introduced during the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions to reduce the penalties for possession and jumpstart the licensing process, but they did not pass.
A medical card costs $25 and must be renewed every 2 years. Insurance is not required to cover cannabis treatments when the products are legal, so the cost of the program is unknown.
Qualifying conditions include:
Cancer, including end-stage cancer, treatment-related nausea, or wastingALS, severe or end-stage diagnosisSeizure disorders including epilepsyCrohn’s diseaseMitochondrial diseaseParkinson’s disease, severe or end-stage diagnosisSickle cell disease, severe or end-stage diagnosisTourette’s syndrome, severe diagnosisAutism spectrum disorder, for people over 18 or with a severe diagnosisEpidermolysis bullosa Alzheimer’s disease, severe or end-stage diagnosisAIDS, severe or end-stage diagnosisPeripheral neuropathy, severe or end-stage symptomsHospice patients Intractable painPTSD, for people over 18
Technically, Georgia was one of the first US states to pass a medical cannabis bill, back in 1980. But the law required the medical program to be overseen by a governor-appointed board and there was no legal access to cannabis, so no patients were ever served.
Georgia has some of the harshest cannabis laws in the United States. Possession of less than an ounce or possession of paraphernalia is a misdemeanor with up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Possession of more than an ounce, intent to sell, and cultivation is a felony that carries 1 – 10 years in jail and a fine of at least $5,000.
How do people in Georgia view marijuana?
Georgia has some of the most restrictive cannabis laws in the United States, and the plant is a divisive topic. Opinions on the plant often fall along racial lines and political affiliation, though not always. Many people in Georgia deeply support legalization of the plant, want an expanded medical program, and/or participated in the legacy market but there are others, particularly in positions of power, who firmly believe in the War on Drugs Propaganda.
Georgia’s location in the “deep south” of the US amplifies issues with cannabis prohibition and inconsistencies in how the laws are enforced. Black people in Georgia are three times more likely to be arrested for a cannabis offense than their white counterparts.
CBD is legal in Georgia under the 2018 Farm Bill. You can purchase CBD products at CBD stores across the state.
Can you grow your own weed?
No, growing cannabis is illegal in Georgia. Cultivation is a felony charge with 1 – 10 years in jail and fines starting at $5,000.
Visiting Georgia – can you buy or bring marijuana products?
No, you cannot legally buy marijuana in Georgia. The only way to access the plant and its products is through the legacy market (aka the black market). Purchase these products at your own risk; they are not tested or regulated.
It is illegal to bring cannabis products into Georgia. While possession is decriminalized in certain cities and counties, it is still illegal in most areas of the state. Carry it at your own risk.