Ohio Drug Possession Laws

The state of Ohio continually ranks near the top of the list when it comes to drug overdose deaths in the nation. Given this grim reality, it's not surprising that the state has very strict drug laws as lawmakers attempt to combat this issue. Ohio law prohibits individuals from knowingly obtaining, possessing, or using a controlled substance. If you're charged with violating Ohio's drug possession laws, then you may be facing incarceration and/or hefty fines.

Not only are the laws strict, but they're also very complex. The Ohio statute categorizes drugs into "schedules, ranging from Schedule I (the most dangerous drugs) to Schedule V, which are considered the least dangerous. Your criminal charge will be based on the type of drug that you possess in Ohio, just like in many other states. However, instead of basing the penalties on the substance or the amount, Ohio law uses a "bulk amounts " formula for all controlled substances to determine what type of charge and penalty you will face.

Ohio Drug Possession Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of laws related to Ohio's drug possession laws, including links to important code sections.

Statutes and Definitions

Possession of drugs: If the possessor has Schedule III, IV, or V controlled drug substances, then he or she is guilty of drug possession.

Aggravated possession of drugs: If the possessor has Schedule I or Schedule II drugs (with the exception of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, LSD, and others specified in the statute), then he or she is guilty of aggravated possession of drugs.

Penalties and Sentencing

The penalties will vary based on the type of drug involved and the bulk amount. The following is a general example of penalties for drug possession:

  • Less than bulk amount: misdemeanor in the first degree; up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $1000, or both; For second and subsequent offenders: felony in the fifth degree; a 6 month (minimum), 12 month (maximum) jail term, up to $2,500 in fines, or both
  • Bulk amount or more, but less than five times the bulk amount: felony in the fourth degree; at least 9 months in jail, fines up to $5000, or both.

Other penalties may include:

  • Driver's license suspension
  • Probation
  • Diversion: a program that can result in the dismissal of the charges against you when you meet certain conditions.

Possible Defenses

  • The substance is not a controlled substance or drug
  • No knowledge of the drugs
  • Entrapment
  • Fourth Amendment violations
  • Medical marijuana exception

Related Offenses

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Ohio Codes and Legal Research Options:

Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney

Given the complexity of Ohio's drug possession laws, it can be difficult to know where you stand if you're facing criminal charges. However, there's too much for you to lose if you don't have an experienced attorney on your side. Take the first step by contacting a local criminal defense attorney today.

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