Understanding Ohio Drug Laws: Penalties, Possession, & Revisions

Like the rest of the United States, Ohio has numerous drug laws. If you or someone you love struggles with drug abuse or addiction, it’s important to understand these laws and the consequences of breaking them.

The state of Ohio has various drug laws. That’s why many Ohio residents who struggle with drug abuse and addiction end up in the criminal justice system. Here’s what you should know about these laws and the consequences of breaking them

Ohio Drug Laws

Ohio state law bans the possession of a controlled substance unless it was prescribed by a licensed medical professional. A controlled substance is any substance regulated by the government.

Like other states, Ohio categorizes controlled substances into different schedules ranging from schedule I to schedule V. 

Schedule I and II drugs pose the highest risk of abuse and addiction. Examples include cocaine, heroin, LSD, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and marijuana (except medical marijuana used by registered patients with qualifying medical conditions). 

Schedule III, IV, and V drugs pose a moderate to low risk of abuse and addiction. Examples include ketamine, benzodiazepines, and products containing relatively low amounts of codeine.

Ohio Drug Possession

The charge for the possession of drugs in Ohio depends on the type and amount of drugs possessed.

Schedule I & II Possession

Ohio assigns a “bulk amount” to most controlled substances. This amount serves as a baseline to determine the severity of a possession offense. The possession of most schedule I and II drugs is charged as:

  • a fifth-degree felony for less than the bulk amount
  • a third-degree felony for between the bulk amount and up to 5 times the bulk amount
  • a second-degree felony for between 5 and 50 times the bulk amount
  • a first-degree felony for at least 50 times the bulk amount

Possessions of cocaine, heroin, LSD, and marihuana are charged not based on bulk amounts but based on specific amounts. 

For example, the possession of cocaine is charged as a fifth-degree felony for less than 5 grams and a first-degree felony with major drug offender status for 100 grams or more. 

Schedule III, IV, & V Possession

The possession of a schedule III, IV, or V drug is charged as:

  • a first-degree misdemeanor for less than the bulk amount
  • a fourth-degree felony for between the bulk amount and up to 5 times the bulk amount
  • a third-degree felony for between 5 and 50 times the bulk amount
  • a second-degree felony for 50 times the bulk amount or more

Ohio Drug Possession Penalties

Penalties for an Ohio drug possession charge vary from case to case. However, Ohio law enforcement has suggested the following criminal sentencing for different drug crimes:

  • up to $1,000 in fines and up to 180 days of jail time for a first-degree misdemeanor
  • up to $2,500 in fines and between 6 and 12 months of prison time for a fifth-degree felony
  • up to $5,000 in fines and between 6 and 18 months of prison time for a fourth-degree felony
  • up to $10,000 in fines and between 1 to 5 years of prison time for a third-degree felony
  • up to $15,000 in fines and between 2 and 8 years of prison time for a second-degree felony
  • up to $20,000 in fines and between 3 and 11 years of prison time for a first-degree felony

If you struggle with drug abuse or drug addiction, your criminal defense lawyer may advocate for you to get sentenced to drug court. That means you would attend a substance abuse treatment program as an alternative to a prison sentence. 

Other potential consequences of a drug conviction in Ohio include a permanent criminal record and the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license or professional license (such as a medical or law license). 

Ohio Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking means illegally selling, transporting, or importing controlled substances. As with drug possession offenses, the penalties for drug trafficking depend on the drug type and amount

For schedule I and II drugs, drug trafficking is charged as:

  • a fourth-degree felony for trafficking less than the bulk amount, punishable by up to $2,500 in fines and up to 12 months in prison
  • a third-degree felony for trafficking up to 5 times the bulk amount, punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and up to 5 years in prison
  • a second-degree felony for trafficking between 5 and 50 times the bulk amount, punishable by up to $15,000 in fines and up to 8 years in prison
  • a first-degree felony for trafficking 50 times the bulk amount or more, punishable by up to $20,000 in fines and up to 11 years in prison

For schedule III, IV, and V drugs, drug trafficking is charged as:

  • a first-degree misdemeanor for trafficking less than the bulk amount, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail
  • a fourth-degree felony for trafficking between the bulk amount and up to 5 times the bulk amount, punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and up to 18 months in prison
  • a third-degree felony for trafficking between 5 and 50 times the bulk amount, punishable by up to $15,000 in fines and up to 5 years in prison
  • a second-degree felony for trafficking 50 times the bulk amount or more, punishable by up to $15,000 in fines and up to 8 years in prison

If you or someone you love struggles with drugs, please contact Ohio Recovery Center. Our compassionate treatment providers offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you or your loved one become drug-free.

  1. State Medical Board of Ohio — Medical Marijuana Resources https://med.ohio.gov/Medical-Marijuana-Resources
  2. State of Ohio — Chapter 2925 | Drug Offenses https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/chapter-2925
  3. State of Ohio — Section 2925.11 | Possession of controlled substances https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-2925.11

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2023 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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