Georgia’s laws about drug possession and distribution are among the strictest in the United States. Under the state’s Controlled Substances Act, these crimes carry jail time and fines of up to $1 million.

If the state of Georgia charged you with possession of a controlled substance, you need to understand the potential penalties for this type of criminal conviction.

Drug schedules

Like the federal government, Georgia divides controlled substances into five categories, or schedules, with progressively less potential for harm and abuse:

  • Schedule I drugs, including MDMA, heroin, LSD and THC, have the highest potential for physical and psychological abuse.
  • Schedule II drugs include oxycodone, methamphetamine, methadone, morphine, codeine, cocaine and related substances.
  • Schedule III includes drugs such as steroids, ketamine and suboxone.
  • Schedule IV drugs include prescriptions such as valium, Ambien and Xanax.
  • Schedule V drugs have legitimate medical use and are rarely abused, such as blood pressure medications.

Possession penalties

Possession of a controlled substance is a felony in Georgia. The state’s drug possession penalties vary based on the above drug schedule as follows:

  • Two to 15 years in prison for possession of a Schedule I or II drug, first offense
  • Five to 30 years in prison for possession of a Schedule I or II drug, subsequent offenses
  • One to 5 years in prison for possession of a Schedule III, IV or V drug, first offense
  • One to 10 years in prison for possession of a Schedule III, IV or V drug, first offense

Although THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, is a Schedule I drug, marijuana possession is not necessarily a felony in Georgia. Possession of less than an ounce of cannabis is a misdemeanor that carries fines of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail. However, possession of more than an ounce of cannabis is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Individuals charged with drug possession in Georgia face severe penalties. For this reason, legal representation in court should be a priority.