After earning his juris doctor from Mercer University, E. Michael Vereen III enrolled in special advanced legal studies at Emory University and earned a master of laws. He went into private practice in greater Atlanta in 1989. Today, he is well-known for helping clients navigate bankruptcy as well as criminal and DUI (driving under the influence) cases. He is also experienced in representing people charged with marijuana possession and trafficking.
The loosening of criminal penalties for marijuana possession and use in certain parts of the country may lead to the misconception that it has been decriminalized nationwide. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the Atlanta area, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, but the penalties can include driver’s license suspension, fines, community service, and imprisonment up to a year. First-time offenders may be treated more leniently, but this is not guaranteed. If the amount in possession is more than an ounce, or the discovery is made near a school, or the defendant is charged with possession with intent to sell, the charges can be upgraded to a felony with even more severe penalties.
Likewise, there is nothing in Georgia law that distinguishes the medical use of marijuana. People caught using the drug for medically-approved reasons face the same charges and penalties as someone caught in possession of marijuana for recreational use. A defendant who is charged with marijuana possession, even as a misdemeanor, should seek competent legal counsel to sort out and understand all the available options and help select the most advantageous course of action.
E. Michael Vereen III Attorney at Law (770) 345-9449 vereenlaw.com