Is Cannabis Legal in Georgia?

Weed is not legal in Georgia, and medical use is strictly regulated. Weed is decriminalized in some places like Atlanta, but elsewhere it could get you in a lot of trouble.

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Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson is the senior editor at CBD Oracle, and has been covering science, vaping and cannabis for over 10 years. He has a MS in Theoretical Physics from Uppsala...

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Marijuana legality map of Georgia state
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Key Takeaways

  • Recreational cannabis: Weed is completely illegal in Georgia, with harsh penalties for possession. Recreational use is not permitted, and even small amounts can lead to jail time.
  • Medical marijuana program: Georgia allows low-THC, high-CBD oil for certain medical conditions, but it has strict regulations and does not permit flower or other forms like edibles and vapes.
  • Local decriminalization and delta-8 THC: Some areas in Georgia have decriminalized possession of small amounts of weed, resulting in fines rather than jail time. Delta-8 THC is legal statewide, providing an alternative for those seeking legal cannabis products.

While you can get low-THC CBD oil on the state’s medical marijuana program, weed is not legal in Georgia in any meaningful sense.

Actually, it’s one of the 19 states where you can still get jail time for simple possession.

So unless you qualify for the state’s medical program or use alternatives like delta-8 THC, there is basically no legal way to get high in the state. Georgia’s weed laws are in desperate need of modernization.

Weed is not legal in Georgia, although if you have a qualifying condition, it is possible to get low-THC, high-CBD oil on Georgia’s limited medical marijuana program.

Recreational weed is totally illegal in Georgia.

Unfortunately for smokers in the state, outside of some limited areas of decriminalization, there is no way to get actual flower legally, and certainly not for recreational purposes.

Punishments can also get pretty harsh.

Penalties for Possession

Georgia punishes simple possession of weed, no matter the amount, and compared to other states it can get very harsh.

  • For less than an ounce, it’s considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both. You may also get community service for up to a year instead.
  • For more than an ounce, it’s considered a felony and it carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year, up to a maximum of 10 years. You may also receive a fine of up to $5,000.
  • In addition, it’s illegal to possess paraphernalia, such as bongs or pipes. This is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to a year of jail time.

Medical marijuana is legal in Georgia, starting with HB 1, otherwise known as Haleigh’s Hope Act, which made it legal to possess oil with less than 5% THC by weight.

However, this law didn’t establish a system for in-state sales, and it needed to be expanded with SB 16 in 2018 and HB 324 (Georgia’s Hope Act) in 2019 to become the program Georgians know today.

This last bill, in particular, set up in-state cultivation, production, and dispensing systems, and established limits for patients.

Finally, lawmakers passed SB 195 in 2021, with the bill making it possible to sell low-THC products not in oil form. However, things like edibles, vapes, and flower are still not allowed under the program. 

Patient Possession Limits

HB 324 specifies (page 3, line 64-67) that patients can possess up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC oil, provided you have a doctor’s recommendation and have gotten your Georgia weed card.

There is no way to get cannabis flower, though. 

Getting a Medical Marijuana Card

As in most states, you must be diagnosed with one of a selection of qualifying conditions in order to access the medical marijuana program in Georgia.

In most cases, these conditions have to be severe or end-stage for medical cannabis to be considered appropriate (these will be marked with a * or given explanation where needed):

  • Cancer, when such diagnosis is end stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness or recalcitrant nausea and vomiting 
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis*
  • Seizure disorders related to the diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma-related head injuries 
  • Multiple sclerosis*
  • Crohn’s disease 
  • Mitochondrial disease 
  • Parkinson’s disease*
  • Sickle cell disease*
  • Tourette’s syndrome* 
  • Autism spectrum disorder, when (a) patient is 18 years of age or more, or (b) patient is less than 18 years of age and diagnosed with severe autism 
  • Epidermolysis bullosa 
  • Alzheimer’s disease* 
  • AIDS*
  • Peripheral neuropathy*
  • Patient is in a hospice program, either as an inpatient or outpatient 
  • Intractable pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from direct exposure to or witnessing a trauma for a patient who is at least 18 years of age

Once you’ve been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, and if your doctor thinks medical cannabis is an appropriate treatment, he or she will sign you up for the program.

You don’t actually have to do very much – you just have to sign a waiver form and your physician will send this in along with their physician certification form.

After this, you’ll be notified when your Georgia weed card is ready, which will be within 10 business days. You go to collect it from one of 20 offices across the state and pay $25 for it, with a two-year validity per card.

Can You Consume in Public in Georgia?

There isn’t really a rule about consuming cannabis in public in Georgia.

Of course, flower is illegal regardless of why you’re using it, so you’ll be charged with possession if you’re caught smoking or vaping in public.

However, for the cannabis oil allowed under the medical program, provided it has a tax stamp (legal reference) and you have your registry card, you can (theoretically, at least) use it in public without issues.

Can You Drive Under the Influence of Marijuana in Georgia?

As in most states, whether you can legally use marijuana or not, you can’t drive under the influence of marijuana in Georgia.

First off, there’s an implied consent law in the state, so you’ve already consented to testing by driving on the road. If you don’t take the test, this can be used as evidence against you, and you’ll have your license suspended.

Secondly, there are two elements of the Georgia DUI law. Most obviously, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the individual to drive. There is no defense against this, even if you’re a legal medical patient. 

The second component is that it’s illegal to drive with any amount of marijuana (or metabolites or derivatives of it) in your system. However, if you’re a registered medical patient, you can use the “affirmative defense” against this, basically stating that yes, you do have marijuana in your system, but you are legally entitled to use it. This only works if you’re not actually impaired, though. 

If you’re convicted of a DUI, the punishments are (with all fines here subject to an additional 20 to 30% in fees):

  • For a first offense, you’ll receive a fine of between $300 and $1,000, between 10 days and a year in jail (with the judge being able to suspend, stay or probate the sentence), at least 40 hours of community service and you’ll have to complete a Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (which costs $250 in total).
  • For a second offense (within 10 years), you’ll receive a fine of between $600 and $1,000, you’ll receive 90 days to a year in jail (with a mandatory minimum of 72 continuous hours), community service of at least 30 days, 12 months probation (less any days spent in jail), your license will be suspended for three years, you’ll have to attend the Drug Use Risk Reduction Program mentioned previously, and you’ll also have your photo published along with information about your crime, at your own expense ($25).
  • For a third offense (within 10 years), the fine is increased from $1,000 to $5,000, between 120 days and a year in jail (with a mandatory minimum of 15 days), 30 days or more of community service, probation for 12 months, five years’ license revocation, probation for a year (less time served), a photo published (as above), a Drug Use Risk Reduction Program (as above), and the possibility of an ignition interlock device.
  • For fourth or subsequent offenses (within 10 years), it’s considered a felony, with $1,000 to $5,000 in fines, between a year and five years in jail (mandatory minimum of 90 days), having your vehicle seized, at least 60 days of community service and all of the other requirements of a third offense.

Delta-8 THC is legal in Georgia.

The House and Senate passed HB 213 in 2019, known as the Georgia Hemp Farming Act. This defines “hemp” in line with the limits of the federal 2018 Farm Bill (page 2, lines 45 to 47), so that anything with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC by weight is considered hemp in the state, and hemp is totally legal.

Without further provisions, this means delta-8 THC is de facto legal unless the product it’s in exceeds the delta-9 THC limit.  

However, Gwinnett County’s District Attorney issued a warning in 2022, basically stating that delta-8 THC is illegal in the state.

This led to lawsuits, an injunction against the state, and then a reversal of that injunction, with more legal battles following.

After all of this back and forth, the appeals court eventually ruled that delta-8 THC is indeed legal in the state.

RELATED: Where Is Delta-8 THC Legal? A State-by-State Map

Is Weed Decriminalized in Georgia?

Weed is not decriminalized in the whole state of Georgia, but it is decriminalized in some areas.

All of the Georgia weed decriminalization laws will be listed below, but for a detailed example, Clarkston was the first locality to decriminalize weed. Their law states that for people caught with one ounce of marijuana or less, the punishment is a fine of $75 and nobody punished for this amount can be confined for any period of time.

Similarly, if you’re wondering something like “is weed decriminalized in Atlanta?” then the answer is yes, up to a limit.

The complete list is:

  • Athens: Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is punishable by a $35 fine (passed August 2022).
  • Atlanta: Possession of less than one ounce is punishable by a $75 fine (passed October 2017).
  • Camilla: Possession of less than one ounce is punishable by a $35 fine. (passed April 2023)
  • Chamblee: $75 fine for one ounce on a first offense (passed September 2019)
  • Clarkston: $75 penalty for one ounce (passed July 2016).
  • East Park: $75 penalty for one ounce (passed December 2023)
  • Forest Park: Up to one ounce punishable by a fine of $100 (first time) or $300 (subsequent) (passed July 2018).
  • Fulton County (Unincorporated): $75 penalty for one ounce (passed June 2018).
  • Kingsland: Up to one ounce punishable by a $150 fine (passed 2018).
  • Macon-Bibb County: $75 for up to an ounce (passed May 2019).
  • Savannah: Fine of $150 for up to an ounce (passed March 2018).
  • South Fulton: Fine of $150 for up to an ounce (passed March 2018).
  • Statesboro: $500 penalty for possession of up to an ounce (passed December 2018)
  • Stonecrest: $100 fine for up to an ounce (passed August 2022)
  • Tybee Island: Fine of $150 for up to an ounce (passed September 2021).

With the medical marijuana program not allowing flower, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that growing weed for personal use is not legal in Georgia.

The punishments for growing are also quite harsh as the amounts increase:

  • If you have more than an ounce but less than 10 lb, the punishment is a mandatory minimum of one year in jail, up to 10 years maximum, and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • If you have over 10 lb but less than 2,000 lb, the mandatory minimum is 5 years, but you could get up to 30. It carries a maximum fine of $100,000.
  • If you have over 2,000 lb but less than 10,000 lb, the mandatory minimum is 7 years in jail, up to 30 years, and a fine of up to $250,000.
  • If you have more than 10,000 lb, the mandatory minimum is 15 years, again up to a maximum of 30 years, and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

Despite local-level decriminalization and lawmakers attempting to pass bills through, Georgia’s weed laws may be among the last in the country to change.

Two bills were carried over from 2023 into the 2024 session, and the lack of progress on these shows perfectly where the state stands on marijuana reform. 

HB 388 would have decriminalized possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, as in the many cities listed above. However, this bill is now dead, shortly after being carried over to the new legislative session.

Similarly, HB 337 would have established a medical marijuana program in line with those across most of the country, but that bill also died shortly after being carried over. 

Against this backdrop, the majority of Georgia voters approve of the legalization of recreational marijuana.

While lawmakers stifle and reject every attempt to bring state law in line with that of the rest of the country, voters generally see the other side of the issue.

If politicians represented the views and wills of the people and not their own interests, the problem would be solved by now.  

Weed will be legal in Georgia eventually, but it will take a year or two to even get the medical program in line with others in the country and increase availability, and probably longer to get a legalization bill to the latter stages of the process.

They’ll probably legalize federally before Georgia does at state-level.


If you’re caught with just an eighth of weed and a bong, Georgia’s weed laws not only punish you for the possession – up to a year in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine – you get the same punishment for the bong, and you might get in trouble for not paying tax on your illegal drugs.

Of course, it’s unlikely they’d really stack all of these punishments, but the example neatly illustrates a lot of the things wrong with Georgia’s cannabis law.

It only gets worse when you realize that the outcome in this situation would depend quite strongly on where you happen to be. In Atlanta, you’d probably get off with just a fine; in Albany, you could easily find yourself in jail. 

For recreational users, the best legal option is delta-8 THC or hemp delta-9. For medical users, unfortunately, it could still be the best legal option unless you’re happy with low-THC oil.