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Georgia Drug Possession Laws: A Comprehensive Overview

Under Georgia drug possession laws, possession of a controlled substance can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Learn more here.

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Understanding Georgia Drug Possession Laws

The Georgia Controlled Substances Act bans the possession of substances that are considered addictive or dangerous. In other words, an individual is not allowed to have a controlled substance in their possession without a proper prescription.

More importantly, the State of Georgia has zero tolerance for drug possession. Laws and penalties regarding drug offenses are among the strictest in the United States.

A drug possession arrest that leads to a conviction can affect a person’s driving privileges, as well as housing and employment opportunities. Moreover, it can result in strict fines and prison time of one to 10 years or more.

It is also crucial to note that someone arrested on drug charges can face prosecution under state as well as federal law. Typically, a federal charge will be brought if a large amount of illegal narcotics is involved or if the crime is part of a large drug trafficking conspiracy. However, any drug crime may result in federal charges.

Under Georgia drug laws, as in many other states, the substances are divided into drug “schedules”, which correspond to the level of danger that the use entails as well as whether the drug has any generally currently accepted medical use.

In addition to the type of controlled substance, its amount can also affect the potential penalties and whether the crime will be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony.

As you can see, drug possession laws in Georgia are complex. Many factors can influence the type of criminal prosecution you may be facing, as well as the severity of the potential penalties. Furthermore, drug possession convictions carry other serious consequences besides the fines and jail or prison penalties. That’s why you should consider hiring an experienced drug attorney at The Waltman Firm who can evaluate the circumstances of your case and fight for the best possible result.


Possession of Controlled Substances – Potential Penalties for Schedule I and Schedule II Drugs

Schedule I drugs are considered to have the highest potential for abuse or dependence and generally lack an accepted medical use. As a result, a possession charge for a Schedule I drug will generally carry the most severe consequences. In Georgia, Schedule I includes heroin, LSD, psilocybin (mushrooms), and MDMA (ecstasy).

Under United States federal drug law, marijuana is also classified as a Schedule I drug. In Georgia, however, marijuana possession is treated differently. Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor offense.

However, if an individual possesses more than one ounce of marijuana, they may be charged with an “intent to distribute” crime, which is a felony offense. Conviction of felony possession of marijuana in Georgia can lead to a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. A second or subsequent conviction for possession can entail even more severe penalties.


Schedule II drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse or dependence but also generally have some accepted medical use. Schedule II in Georgia includes cocaine (as well as crack cocaine), methamphetamine, morphine, hydrocodone, opium, oxycodone, ketamine, and fentanyl.

A conviction for possession of Schedule I or II drugs can carry a sentence of between 2 and 15 years in prison. A second or subsequent conviction can result in a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.


Possession of Controlled Substances – Penalties for Schedule III, Schedule IV and Schedule V Drugs

If you are convicted of possession of Schedule III, IV, or V substances, you could face a sentence of between 1 and 5 years in prison. A second or subsequent conviction can carry a sentence of between 1 and 10 years in prison.

Schedule III drugs are considered to have a lower potential for abuse or dependence and have some generally accepted medical uses. Georgia’s Schedule III includes anabolic steroids, certain barbiturates, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, CNS stimulants, and mixtures containing other narcotics, among other things.

Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse or dependence and have generally accepted medical uses. Georgia’s Schedule IV includes clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (valium), zolpidem (Ambien), and alprazolam (Xanax).

Finally, Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse or dependence and have accepted medical uses. Schedule V includes various mixtures containing limited amounts of drugs from other schedules.

Although some of the drug schedules include prescription drugs, if you have a prescription from a doctor, you cannot be charged with drug possession, and it won’t be counted in the categories of felony punishable.

If you have been charged with any criminal offenses or drug offenses, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney who can provide legal advice as per the Georgia law guidelines. However, to get free from your charges, you need to avoid any sort of subsequent offenses during the drug treatment program.

How Drug Possession Laws in Georgia May Apply to Your Case

Drug possession laws in Georgia can be complex. For example, law enforcement or police officer don’t need to catch you with drugs in your hand in order to charge you with a violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. Rather, you could be charged and convicted of drug possession if the substances are found in your home or car and can be deemed to have been under your control. Georgia defines possession as keeping drugs at your home or car in your possession.

Georgia courts have held that as long as there is even slight evidence of access to or power over the controlled substance, the question of possession is left to the jury. Davenport v. State, Ga. App. 140 (2011). This is just one of many reasons that it is important to hire a top-rated criminal defense law firm like The Waltman Firm that understands the Georgia Code and can offer you the best chance of having your drug charges dismissed. Book a consultation and discuss your felony conviction charges with us.

Official Code of Georgia Annotated Drug Possession Laws

Georgia’s legal code is known as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (abbreviated as O.C.G.A.) Under the O.C.G.A., various factors can affect the sentence that you may receive for violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act. 

For example, the total weight of the drugs in your possession can influence the sentence you ultimately receive both because of the amount in and of itself and because the jury may infer that you intended to sell or distribute the drugs to others. In addition, the presence of items such as baggies or petty cash may lead to the inference that you intended to use the substances in your possession for eventual distribution. 

Generally, the conviction of an intent to distribute crime carries harsher penalties than simple possession under Georgia’s drug laws. Finally, if you have previously been convicted of a drug crime, a subsequent conviction will likely carry harsher penalties. However, while some drug crimes carry more significant penalties than others, each possession charge should be treated equally seriously. Any criminal conviction can have serious repercussions on your life, so you need a reputable criminal defense lawyer fighting for your rights.

Additional Possession of Controlled Substance Penalties

In Georgia, the first conviction for a violation of drug possession laws results in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for six months. A second conviction leads to the suspension of driving privileges for a full year. Further convictions can result in longer suspensions or even the permanent revocation of your driving privileges in Georgia. 

If you are convicted of possession of a controlled substance, and this is your first offense, you may be eligible for a “conditional discharge.” A conditional discharge requires that you admit to possession of the controlled substance.

Next, the court will sentence you to a period of probation. If you are able to complete your probationary period without violating any of its terms, the charges will be dropped, and you will not have a conviction or guilty plea on your criminal record. It is important to know that a conditional discharge for a first offense drug charge can still be considered a conviction for immigration purposes. To learn more about how these laws might apply to your case, we invite you to contact The Waltman Firm today.

Contact Our Law Firm for More Info on Georgia Controlled Substance Laws

If you or someone you love is facing drug charges for Georgia possession, you may feel lost, scared, or confused. Thankfully, you have options, and you are not alone.

Georgia laws relating to the possession of controlled substances can be complex, so you must have a defense attorney on your side who understands the ins and outs of Georgia drug laws.

A conviction for drug possession can hinder your ability to find employment, housing, and even to qualify for certain types of loans, including student loans. Moreover, many employers view conviction for a drug crime as grounds for automatic termination.

Because the stakes are so high, selecting the right law firm to fight your case could be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Contact us today and begin moving forward.