Georgia Marijuana Possession Laws

Thanks to the War on Drugs, more and more non-violent marijuana users are being jailed for simple possession. Also, many employers will view a drug conviction as grounds for termination. Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and in August of 2016 they denied an attempt to reschedule Marijuana ( However, Georgia law treats simple possession as a misdemeanor as long as it was less than one ounce, in its original leafy-green form, and not being distributed to others. If you were charged with attempt to distribute, trafficking, or manufacturing, it is considered a felony. If the THC (active ingredient) was removed from the marijuana, then it is also a felony to possess that THC derivative.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations has a program to train police officers to identify marijuana, so that these samples don’t have to be sent to the crime lab. In fact, the GBI has received an award for this cost cutting program ( They are proud that marijuana testing by the crime lab has been reduced by 98%. What they don’t tell you is that they have replaced the scientific Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) testing with a series of tests that are superficial and prone to false positives. Drug defense attorney Patrick Kunes knows about the Duquenois-Levine Reagent, Microscopy, and Fast Blue B testing. He understands that these tests are not selective, in that they do not exclude all other possible substances. Patrick knows how to expose these tests as flawed according to GBI’s own protocol. If you have not verbally identified the leafy green substance as marijuana, then he knows how to attack the alleged identification by the State at trial. Furthermore, The Federal Farm Bill (2018 H.R. 2) was signed into law on December 20, 2018 and it removed "hemp" from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Hemp is defined as cannabis with no more than 0.3 percent delta-9-tetrahydracannabinol (THC) per O.C.G.A. 2-23-3. In accordance with this federal legislation, the state of Georgia passed HB 213, Georgia Hemp Farming Act, on May 10, 2019, changing the law to exclude hemp from the legal definition of marijuanaas defined in the criminal statutes of Georgia. Accordingly, scientifically determining if a substance is marijuana has changed. It is clear that GBI's certification for local law enforcement examiners to perform existing testing of leafy green material suspected to be marijuana is no longer viable to separate legally-defined hemp from illegal marijuana.

Patrick Kunes, a drug defense attorney in Georgia, is a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) As a member of the Life Member of NORML Legal Committee, he keeps up to date with changes in national laws as well as new trial tactics to defend the accused. He understands how K-9 handlers can offer cues to K-9 “officers” in attempts to cause them to alert. He is knowledgeable about 4th Amendment law, and can challenge prolonged detentions and illegal searches by law enforcement officers. It is important to discuss your case with a qualified drug defense attorney who can explain the law as well as local prosecutors’ and judges’ attitudes towards drug offenders. Call Patrick Kunes today at (229) 382-4900 for a free consultation.

Joe Kunes

  • Member of Georgia and Florida State Bar
  • Member of National Association of Criminal
  • Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
  • Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL)
  • Georgia Defense of Drinking Drivers (DODD)
  • National College for DUI Defense (NCDD)
  • Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA)
  • American Trial Lawyers Association (ATLA)
Learn More About Joe Kunes

Patrick Kunes

  • Member of Georgia State Bar
  • Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL)
  • Georgia Defense of Drinking Drivers (DODD)
  • Past President Tifton Bar Association
  • Life Member of NORML Legal Committee
Learn More About Patrick Kunes

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