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  • Kelli Lynn Grey

What’s the Difference Between Recreational Cannabis and Medical Marijuana in Georgia?


recreational vs medical marijuana

In Georgia today, it’s legal for qualifying patients to possess up to 20 ounces of low THC cannabis oil, and certain cities and counties have decriminalized all forms of adult marijuana use.

Meanwhile, new laws to expand cannabis policies in Georgia are frequently being introduced. While this is a hopeful sign, keeping up with each change can be overwhelming.

Georgia Marijuana Card can help you through every step of Georgia’s medical marijuana card registration process. We’re also a top resource for the state’s latest cannabis news. Read on for a closer look at the differences between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana in Georgia.

Medical Marijuana vs. Recreational Marijuana

Generally speaking, the key difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana is whether cannabis is officially prescribed as treatment for a qualifying medical condition. Individual states have unique medical marijuana and recreational marijuana guidelines.

Before diving into exactly what Georgia allows, let’s first look at the general characteristics of each type of legal cannabis program.

Medical Marijuana Basics

  • Qualifying patients, caregivers, and doctors must complete an application and register with the state department of public health.


  • Depending on the state, patients can purchase products from both dedicated medical dispensaries and general dispensaries.

  • In some states, it’s permissible to grow your own medical cannabis.

  • Medical marijuana patients are sometimes allowed to possess more cannabis than recreational consumers are allowed to possess.

  • Sometimes, medical cannabis is bred to provide maximum benefits for specific conditions.

  • Depending on the severity of the qualifying medical condition, minors can qualify for treatment with medical marijuana.

Recreational Marijuana Basics

  • Adults can legally possess cannabis without having a qualifying medical condition, and without registering with the public health department. However, showing an ID to prove your age is still required.

  • Cannabis is usually available from licensed dispensaries. Occasionally, growing your own cannabis is allowed.

  • Limits on the amount of cannabis you can possess at once are often lower than limits on what a qualified medical patient can possess.

  • Age limits are strictly enforced.

Is there a difference between recreational marijuana and adult cannabis use?

Lately, recreational marijuana has also been referred to as adult cannabis use, adult marijuana use, and adult cannabis consumption. There is no difference between these terms. Some states and individuals simply prefer one over the other.

The reason for the preferences comes down to the word “recreational,” which refers to something that provides a sense of entertainment, fun, or escape.

Describing a marijuana program as “recreational” effectively communicates that consumers are not official patients. However, it also implies that all non-medical consumption of marijuana is for fun.

In reality, many non-medical cannabis consumers have therapeutic intentions. They consume cannabis to improve their overall quality of life and to be more functional at work and at home. Using the term “adult use” is more inclusive of these consumers.


What is the relationship between recreational cannabis, medical marijuana, and decriminalization?

Recreational marijuana programs and medical marijuana programs are two forms of cannabis legalization that have happened across the USA at the state level.

Usually, states begin by introducing medical marijuana and then follow up with recreational laws.

States, cities, and counties can also choose to decriminalize marijuana.

In this case, cannabis remains illegal at both the state and federal level. However, law enforcement officers have the option to treat possession as a minor infraction punishable by a small fine, similar to a parking ticket.


Where does Georgia stand on medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, and decriminalization?

Now that you have a firm understanding of the differences and similarities between medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, and decriminalization, we can finally dive into exactly what Georgia offers.

Medical Marijuana in Georgia

Haleigh’s Hope Act of 2015 and Georgia’s Hope Act of 2019 set the tone for Georgia’s current approach to medical marijuana.

First, Haleigh’s Hope allowed qualifying Georgia patients and their caregivers to legally possess up to 20 ounces of medical cannabis oil with no more than 5 percent delta 9 THC.

Second, Georgia’s Hope established the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Coalition (GMCC) to develop a process for licensing in-state production facilities and dispensaries. The GMCC estimates these will be operational by the end of 2021.


In March 2021, State Representative Pedro Marin introduced another key bill for expanding Georgia’s medical marijuana program. If this bill passes, qualifying Georgia patients will gain access to a comprehensive range of medical marijuana products, not just low THC cannabis oil.

Recreational Marijuana in Georgia

Georgia does not currently have a recreational marijuana program, nor does it have plans to introduce one any time soon.

However, some cities and counties have voted to decriminalize cannabis possession, paving the way toward responsible adult cannabis use in Georgia.

Georgia cities and counties that have individually decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of cannabis include:

  • Clarkston

  • Atlanta

  • Savannah

  • South Fulton

  • Fulton County

  • Forest Park

  • Statesboro

  • Kingsland

  • Fairburn

  • Macon-Bibb County

  • Augusta-Richmond County

  • Chamblee


Law enforcement officials active within these areas can treat cannabis possession as a minor infraction that comes with a relatively small fine and no jail time.

However, they can also defer to current state laws that say possessing less than one ounce of cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by a one thousand dollar fine and up to one year in jail.


With increased decriminalization and recreational legalization on the horizon, do I still need to apply for my medical marijuana card?

There are multiple advantages to securing your Georgia medical marijuana card. Having a card helps validate your cannabis use and also places you at the forefront of legally benefiting from future reform efforts.

Furthermore, having a medical marijuana card gives you access to well-regulated, high quality sources of medical cannabis products.

If cannabis is an important part of your personal wellness plan, you owe it to yourself to see if you qualify for an official medical marijuana card.

Our compassionate team of state licensed physicians are experts at determining how to safely and effectively integrate cannabis into your life.

How do I qualify for a Georgia medical marijuana card?

The first step to becoming an official Georgia marijuana cardholder is scheduling an appointment. If your doctor agrees that cannabis would be a good treatment for your condition, then the next steps are completing registration papers and submitting a registration fee.

From gathering medical records, to submitting registration papers, to learning more about how cannabis can enhance your overall health, the compassionate team at Georgia Marijuana Card is here for you.

Give the team a call at 866-781-5606, or visit our website, to schedule an appointment about qualifying for a Georgia medical marijuana card today.


Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.

At Georgia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.



Georgia Marijuana Card

Call us at (866) 781-5606, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!


Check out Georgia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Georgia.


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