Possession of a Controlled Substance in Ohio

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All states regulate the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for possession. Ohio classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as CDS, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses the illegal possession of CDS only. Illegally making or selling CDS carries different penalties. For more information on illegal CDS manufacture and sale, see Sale of Controlled Substances in Ohio.

Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover Ohio’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see Ohio Marijuana Laws.

How Ohio Classifies CDS

Ohio divides CDS into five “Schedules.” Schedule I lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse, and increase in recognized medical uses.

If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS possession, you’ll need to consult the Ohio Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group.

Penalties for Illegally Possessing CDS

Penalties vary according to the type and amount of CDS involved in the violation, and are measured according to a specified “bulk amount” assigned to each CDS. For example, the Schedule III CDS ketamine (or “Special K”), has a bulk amount of 95 milliliters when its strength is 100 mg/ml. Other Schedule III CDS have different bulk amounts. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2925.11.)

Schedule I and II CDS

A defendant who possessed Schedule I or II CDS (excluding marijuana, heroin, cocaine, LSD, and other specified CDS) is guilty of aggravated possession of drugs. Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2925.11(C)(1).)

  • Less than the bulk amount—felony in the fifth degree (a fine of up to $2,500, at least six and up to 12 months in jail, or both).
  • The bulk amount or more, but less than five times the bulk amount—felony in the third degree (a fine of up to $10,000, at least nine months in jail and up to 36 months in prison, or both).
  • Five times the bulk amount or more, but less than 50 times the bulk amount—felony in the second degree (a fine of up to $15,000, at least two and up to eight years in prison, or both).
  • 50 times the bulk amount or more, but less than 100 times the bulk amount—felony in the first degree (a fine of up to $20,000, at least three and up to 11 years in prison, or both).
  • 100 times the bulk amount or more—felony in the first degree (a fine of up to $20,000, 11 years in prison, or both).

Schedule III, IV, and V CDS

A defendant who possessed Schedule III, IV, or V CDS is guilty of possession of drugs. Penalties vary according to the amount possessed. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2925.11(C)(2).)

  • Less than the bulk amount—misdemeanor in the first degree (a fine of up to $1,000, up to 180 days in jail, or both); for second and subsequent offenses, felony in the fifth degree (a fine of up to $2,500, at least six and up to 12 months in jail, or both).
  • The bulk amount or more, but less than five times the bulk amount—felony in the fourth degree (a fine of up to $5,000, at least six months in jail and up to 18 months in prison, or both).
  • Five times the bulk amount or more, but less than 50 times the bulk amount—felony in the third degree (a fine of up to $10,000, at least nine months in jail and up to 36 months in prison, or both).
  • 50 times the bulk amount or more—felony in the second degree (a fine of up to $15,000, at least two and up to eight years in prison, or both).

Cocaine

Penalties vary according to the amount of cocaine possessed. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2925.11(C)(4).)

  • Less than five grams—felony in the fifth degree (a fine of up to $2,500, at least six and up to 12 months in jail, or both).
  • Five grams or more, but less than ten grams—felony in the fourth degree (a fine of up to $5,000, at least six months in jail and up to 18 months in prison, or both).
  • Ten grams or more, but less than 20 grams—felony in the third degree (a fine of up to $10,000, at least nine months in jail and up to 36 months in prison, or both).
  • 20 grams or more, but less than 27 grams—felony in the second degree (a fine of up to $15,000, at least two and up to eight years in prison, or both).
  • 27 grams or more, but less than 100 grams—felony in the first degree (a fine of up to $20,000, at least three and up to 11 years in prison, or both).
  • 100 grams or more—felony in the first degree (a fine of up to $20,000, 11 years in prison, or both).

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)

Penalties vary according to the amount of LSD possessed. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2925.11(C)(5).)

  • Fewer than ten unit doses—felony in the fifth degree (a fine of up to $2,500, at least six and up to 12 months in jail, or both).
  • Ten doses or more, but fewer than 50 doses—felony in the fourth degree (a fine of up to $5,000, at least six months in jail and up to 18 months in prison, or both).
  • 50 doses or more, but fewer than 250 doses—felony in the third degree (a fine of up to $10,000, at least nine months in jail and up to 36 months in prison, or both).
  • 250 doses or more, but fewer than 1,000 doses—felony in the second degree (a fine of up to $15,000, at least two and up to eight years in prison, or both).
  • 1,000 doses or more, but fewer than 5,000 doses—felony in the first degree (a fine of up to $20,000, at least three and up to 11 years in prison, or both).
  • 5,000 doses or more—felony in the first degree (a fine of up to $20,000, 11 years in prison, or both).

Heroin

Penalties vary according to the amount of heroin possessed. (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2925.11(C)(6).)

  • Fewer than ten unit doses; or less than one gram—felony in the fifth degree (a fine of up to $2,500, at least six and up to 12 months in jail, or both).
  • Ten doses or more, but fewer than 50 doses; or one gram or more, but not more than five grams—felony in the fourth degree (a fine of up to $5,000, at least six months in jail and up to 18 months in prison, or both).
  • 50 doses or more, but fewer than 100 doses; or five grams or more, but not more than ten grams —felony in the third degree (a fine of up to $10,000, at least nine months in jail and up to 36 months in prison, or both).
  • 100 doses or more, but fewer than 500 doses; or ten or more grams, but less than 50 grams—felony in the second degree (a fine of up to $15,000, at least two and up to eight years in prison, or both).
  • 500 doses or more, but fewer than 2,500 doses; or 50 or more grams, but less than 250 grams—felony in the first degree (a fine of up to $20,000, at least three and up to 11 years in prison, or both).
  • 2,500 doses or more; or 250 grams or more—felony in the first degree (a fine of up to $20,000, 11 years in prison, or both).

Fourth Degree Felony Possession

If a defendant charged with a fourth degree felony can prove that the CDS was possessed solely for personal use, the judge may reduce the penalties to those for a fifth degree felony (a fine of up to $2,500, at least six months and up to one year in jail, or both) or a misdemeanor (a fine of up to $1,000, up to 180 days in jail, or both). (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2925.11(F).)

Driver’s License Suspension

In addition to the penalties described above, the judge will suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for at least six months (and up to five years). (Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2925.11(E)(2).)

Talk to an Attorney

CDS possession convictions can incur harsh fines and long periods of incarceration. A local lawyer who practices CDS defense will review the facts of your case, explain your options, and advise you of the possible consequences.

by: , Contributing Author

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