Possession of Marijuana

Marijuana Possession Laws and Legal Guidance

In recent years, the legal framework concerning marijuana possession has grown increasingly complex, with different states adopting varying laws and regulations.

Understanding the legal implications of marijuana possession is crucial for anyone navigating this evolving terrain. With our extensive experience as criminal defense lawyers and deep knowledge of Georgia drug laws, Swingle Levin, LLC is here to help you navigate this ever-changing realm.

In this article, we will explore the intricacies of marijuana possession laws, shedding light on the nuances of different states. We will also discuss the specifics of Georgia Drug Laws and how they apply to marijuana offenses. Whether you’re a concerned citizen or someone facing legal issues related to marijuana possession, we aim to provide valuable insights and clarity on this topic.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or require legal assistance. At Swingle Levin, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys are committed to safeguarding your rights and offering the professional guidance you need in this challenging legal landscape.

The Legal Landscape of Marijuana Possession

Federal vs. State Laws

As marijuana possession laws have evolved, a stark dichotomy has emerged between federal and state laws, creating a web of confusion.

For example, in the 2005 case of Gonzales v. Raich, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of federal authority to enforce drug laws, including those against medical marijuana users in states where it was legal. This case vividly illustrated the conflict between federal regulations classifying marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and state laws permitting its medical use. The decision highlighted the ongoing tension and legal discrepancies between federal and state marijuana laws.

Recent changes have illustrated the tension between federal regulations, which continue to classify marijuana as a controlled substance, and the state-level initiatives to decriminalize or legalize its possession. The differences in legal perspectives raise questions about enforcing and prosecuting criminals and individual rights.

State Laws and Penalties

State laws governing marijuana possession vary considerably across the United States, adding further intricacies to the situation. Some states have enacted more lenient laws, while others have enforced strict laws with harsh penalties.

Under the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, for example, marijuana possession is far from a minor offense. Convictions can have grave consequences, even affecting one’s Georgia driver’s license.

Georgia’s legal framework deems marijuana a controlled substance under OCGA §16-13-30, which unequivocally states that the possession, manufacture, delivery, distribution, or intent to distribute marijuana is unlawful.

However, the term “controlled substance” does not include all types of cannabinoid products.  For example, some products might not have enough THC to be classified as a controlled substance.  The Court of Appeals recently explained this in Elements Distribution, LLC v. State of Georgia:

The term “controlled substance” means “a drug, substance, or immediate precursor in Schedules I through V of [OCGA §§] 16-13-25 through 16-13-29 and Schedules I through V of 21 CFR Part 1308.” OCGA § 16-13-21 (4). Schedule I expressly excludes tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, “when found in hemp or hemp products as such terms are defined in [OCGA §] 2-23-3 [of the Georgia Hemp Farming Act].” OCGA § 16-13-25 (3) (P). OCGA § 2-23-3 defines “hemp” as “the Cannabis sativa L. plant and any part of such plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with the federally defined THC level for hemp or a lower level.” OCGA § 2-23-3 (5). The “‘[f]ederally defined THC level for hemp’ means a delta-9-THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, or as defined in 7 U. S. C. Section 1639o, whichever is greater.” OCGA § 2-23-3 (3). These statutes provide that a derivative of the Cannabissativa L. plant is “hemp” and, therefore, not a controlled substance, unless it has more than a 0.3 percent concentration of delta-9-THC.

When it comes to drug-related offenses, the state distinguishes between actual and constructive possession, each carrying unique legal implications. Actual possession pertains to the marijuana being found on one’s person, while constructive possession often involves situations where the drugs are discovered in homes, vehicles, or businesses. The law assumes that the possessor controls the area, making them responsible for what is found there.

To navigate this intricate legal landscape, having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney is essential. If you’re facing a marijuana possession charge, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation with Swingle Levin, LLC.

Our team of Georgia criminal defense attorneys will work diligently to help you protect your rights and avoid a criminal conviction. We are here to provide the guidance and legal support you need during these challenging times.

Defending Marijuana Possession Charges

Common Defenses

Successfully defending against marijuana possession charges requires an understanding of common defenses. Some of the most frequent defenses include:

  • Challenging the legal conduct of the search that led to the discovery of the marijuana
  • Disputing ownership or control of the substance
  • Contesting the amount or type of marijuana involved.

An experienced criminal defense attorney plays a pivotal role in tailoring a defense strategy to the specific circumstances of the case, leveraging these defenses effectively to protect your rights.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Legal representation is paramount when it comes to defending marijuana possession charges. A skilled attorney can make a significant difference in the case’s outcome, as they have the experience needed to navigate the complexities of the legal system and marijuana laws.

At Swingle Levin, LLC, we bring a wealth of experience and a proven success rate in defending individuals against drug crimes and marijuana possession charges. Our commitment to protecting your rights and our track record in achieving favorable results make us the trusted choice for legal representation in challenging times.

The Broader Implications of Marijuana Possession

Health Implications

Marijuana possession and use have notable health implications. Research has highlighted the potential risks associated with marijuana, including its impact on mental health, cognitive functioning, and addiction.

In addition, marijuana’s addictive properties are a point of concern. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that around 30% of people who use marijuana may become dependent on it. This dependency can result in withdrawal symptoms, which include irritability, insomnia, and loss of appetite when use is discontinued.

It is worth noting that the potency of marijuana has been increasing over the years, particularly with the emergence of high-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) strains, which is the psychoactive compound in marijuana. This increase in potency has raised concerns about potential health risks, primarily when marijuana is used in higher concentrations.

But even with potential health concerns, many researchers and politicians are focused on the potential health and medicinal benefits of marijuana.  Indeed, Georgia currently has a medical marijuana program that allows certainly individuals to use marijuana for approved medical reasons.

Societal Impact

Societal attitudes toward marijuana significantly influence laws and penalties surrounding possession. Shifting public perceptions have led to changes in legislation, with some states opting for decriminalization or legalization.

Consider the data from fiscal year 2021, where 4,405 federal offenders (8.0%) were assigned criminal history points under the federal sentencing guidelines for prior marijuana possession sentences. It’s noteworthy that the majority of these prior sentences (79.3%) were for periods of less than 60 days in prison, including non-custodial sentences. Alarmingly, ten percent (10.2%) of these 4,405 offenders had no other criminal history points, indicating that prior marijuana possession convictions significantly influenced their sentencing.

However, disparities between federal and state laws persist, exemplifying the complex interplay between evolving social attitudes and the legal framework. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for anyone navigating the legal landscape of marijuana possession.

How Swingle Levin, LLC Can Help

The importance of legal representation in cases of marijuana possession cannot be overstated. At Swingle Levin, LLC, our battle-tested, skilled, and devoted team of attorneys is uniquely qualified to help you navigate the complexities of drug charges for possession up to more serious drug trafficking charges in Athens, GA.

With our extensive experience in successfully defending against marijuana possession charges, we are dedicated to safeguarding your rights and securing excellent outcomes. We wholeheartedly encourage readers confronting these legal challenges to seek immediate legal advice and representation.

Swingle Levin, LLC is here to provide the guidance and support you need during these trying times. Your rights and your future are our top priorities, and we are here to fight for you.

Schedule your free consultation today.