The Inevitable Decriminalization of Marijuana is Coming to Georgia

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jul 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

As reported in the Fulton County Daily Report, the City of Chamblee is considering changing the way they enforce marijuana possession in Georgia.  The City of Atlanta and City of Clarkston have already enacted similar ordinances that have changed the maximum consequence to a fine, rather than having someone be arrested and the consequences therein.

The State Legislature has also passed a bill legalizing the sale of medical marijuana. There is a nationwide push toward the recreational decriminalization of marijuana. However, for now in the state of Georgia, this decriminalization is only at the local level.

With all the news of decriminalization and legalization in individual states, many believe that the new local ordinances decriminalizes and legalizes a small amount of marijuana.

The reality is that marijuana is still illegal in Georgia. The new ordinances only reduce jail time and penalties for having a small amount of marijuana in certain municipalities.

These small movements toward decriminalization as well as the legalization of medical marijuana is actually much more limited than other states. The medical marijuana legalization in Georgia does not legalize the sale or possession of marijuana in leaf form and it does not authorize the production or sale of food products infused with low THC oil or the ingestion of low THC oil through vapor. It also does not authorize physicians to prescribe marijuana for medical use. This limited legalization is intended solely to protect qualified persons from criminal prosecution for possessing low THC oil for medicinal purposes. 

Now for the local ordinances… The following counties have enacted the most liberal marijuana possession ordinances in the state of Georgia:

  • Clarkston
  • Atlanta
  • Macon
  • Savannah
  • South Fulton
  • Forest Park

These ordinances do not make marijuana legal. These ordinances make possession of marijuana under an ounce less of a crime. These ordinances treat the offense more like a traffic ticket that is handled in municipal court, with no jail time and a fine.

Thirty-three states along with D.C. currently have passed laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. D.C. and Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have adopted the most expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Illinois just became the second state to legalize recreational marijuana after their governor signed a bill passed by the legislature. Vermont was the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use through the legislative process.

Some other states - now including Georgia - allow for limited use of medical marijuana under certain circumstances. A number of states have also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana - much like the ordinances of some of the Georgia cities listed above.

As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I handle possession cases as well as DUI Marijuana in Georgia quite frequently. Regardless of political views, there are changes happening in our laws. However, if you or a loved one has been arrested or cited for a marijuana related offense, contact us today.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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