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Georgia drug possession classifications and penalties

Not all drug crimes are created equal. Being caught with a very small amount of marijuana is not the same as being caught with heroin. The penalties for possession vary based on the type of drug, but make no mistake, possession of any controlled substance is a serious crime.

The State of Georgia has complex controlled substances statutes. These laws dictate the classification for different types of drugs, and determine the severity of penalties.

Controlled substances classifications

Georgia classifies substances by “schedules.” There are five levels of controlled substances, based primarily on the potential for abuse.

Schedule I

The substances in this category have the highest potential for a abuse. These drugs also have no accepted medical use and are not considered safe even under the supervision of a medical professional.

Examples of schedule I narcotics include heroin, LSD and even marijuana.

Schedule II

Like schedule I substances, these drugs have a high potential for abuse. The difference is that schedule II drugs are used for medical purposes under supervision. These substances also have a high likelihood of psychological or physical dependency.

Examples include OxyContin and morphine.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs come with a lower risk of abuse, but are still considered dangerous and have a low or moderate risk of abuse or dependency. These are more commonly used by medical professionals.

Examples include Vicodin and anabolic steroids.

Schedule IV and V

These are the lowest classifications of controlled substances. Schedule IV and V include substances that are more commonly prescribed by medical professionals and have a lower potential for abuse or dependency.

Schedule IV substances include Xanax and Ambien. Schedule V includes cough medicines with low amounts of codeine.


Drug possession charges should not be taken lightly — the lowest level offenses can include prison time. Even possession of a small amount of marijuana could land you in jail. Possessing any amount of marijuana over 1 oz is a felony and punishable by up to 10 years in prison with a 1 year mandatory minimum, as well as fines.

Penalties for other drug possession charges are as follows:

•2 to 15 years in prison for schedule I or II drugs, with up to 30 years for subsequent convictions.

•2 to 15 years in prison for non-narcotic schedule II drugs, with 5 to 30 years for subsequent convictions.

•1 to 5 years in prison for schedule III, IV or V drugs, with 1 to 10 years for subsequent convictions.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that possession isn’t a serious crime. Don’t be fooled. Possessing any controlled substance puts you at risk for life-altering penalties.

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The firm of Katherine A. Gonos, Attorney at Law, is located in Valdosta, Georgia, and serves residents throughout south Georgia, including these counties: Lowndes, Brooks, Colquitt, Echols, Thomas, Clinch, Cook, Lanier, Atkinson and Tift.