Ohio Marijuana Laws

Ohio Marijuana lawsOhio Marijuana laws have recently changed. The recent decision to legalize medical marijuana makes Ohio the 25th state to do so. One complication in the law is that each municipality has the right to opt out, so how the law is administered will depend on where you live. The new law does provide medical marijuana users with an affirmative defense against prosecution for marijuana possession. To benefit from such a defense, the person charged will need to prove that it was medically necessary, prescribed by a physician, and the marijuana was acquired from a state dispensary. The physician must state that:

  • That the patient has been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition
  • That the physician has gone over the risks and benefits of using medical marijuana.
  • That the physician thinks the benefits to the patient using marijuana outweigh the risks.

Only certain marijuana substances are allowed and include edibles, patches, oils, and tinctures (a type of solution). Also  certain marijuana substances and uses are not allowed, such as the smoking of marijuana, growing marijuana, or the possession of certain edibles (such as gummies) that would be attractive to children.

Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in Ohio and can result in being charged with possession.

Possession of Marijuana in Ohio (Under 100mg)

Ohio’s penalties for possession of marijuana are considered lenient compared to many states, particularly for quantities of less than 100 grams (considered a personal supply). Being convicted of possession of marijuana will typically result in a fine not to exceed $150, and the fine can sometimes be replaced with community service. A conviction most likely will not become part of your criminal record, either.

Possession of Marijuana in Ohio (Over 100mg)

Once you exceed the amount considered the limit for personal possession of marijuana, the penalties can become severe. Ohio determines penalties based on the amount of marijuana you possess in grams (not number of plants).

Penalties for Possession or Distribution of Marijuana in Ohio

Possession of more than 100mg – a personal amount of marijuana – and/or the possession of measuring devices and baggies – may well be enough proof of intent to distribute. You can be charged with distribution of marijuana in Ohio based on how much you possess and what other paraphernalia you have, even if you are not caught in the act of selling. The penalties for possession and distribution or intent to distribute marijuana escalate with how much you possess and whether you are near a minor(s) or school.

Ohio Marijuana Penalties

Possession Amount Charge Jail Time Fine
<100g Minor misdemeanor None $150 or community service
100g-200g 4th deg. misdemeanor Up to 30 days $250 maximum fine
Near minor or school 3rd deg. misdemeanor Up to 60 days $500 maximum fine
200g-1,000g 5th degree felony Up to 1 year $2,500 maximum fine
Near minor or school 4th degree felony Up to 18 mos. $5,000 maximum fine
1,000g-20,000g 3rd degree felony Up to 5 years $10,000 max fine
Near minor or school 2nd degree felony 2-8 years $15,000 max fine
20,000g or more 2nd degree felony Up to 8 years $15,000 max fine
Near minor or school 1st degree felony Up to 10 years $20,000 max fine

Federal Prosecution for Possession and Distribution of Marijuana

Though medical marijuana is legal in half of the states and Washington, D.C., the federal government still considers it an illegal drug and classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug on the Federal Controlled Substances Act. While the Department of Justice will not prosecute cases in which possession of marijuana is legal in the state, they will still prosecute interstate possession and distribution, particularly where possession of marijuana is still illegal in one of the states. While the parent of a child who travels to Colorado for the purpose of obtaining medical marijuana to treat the child’s seizures would likely not be a target for federal prosecution, anyone possessing and transporting marijuana from Colorado or any other state for recreational use, especially large amounts with the intent to distribute, would risk federal prosecution.

Because marijuana laws across the nation and in Ohio are in such a state of flux, it is advisable to retain an experienced defense attorney if you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Ohio. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help determine whether you have any defenses to the charge(s) and thoroughly discuss your options. Should you decide to go to trial, a criminal defense attorney is an absolute necessity. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney.

Have You Been Charged with Federal Drug Crimes?

If you have been charged with any kind of federal drug charge, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who is experienced with federal law.

159HWhile Ohio law enforcement authorities have enforcement responsibility for many of the crimes that occur within our state, our justice system is also overseen by the federal government. And while there has been much discussion about the decriminalization of marijuana at the state level, the possession, distribution, or production of marijuana and many other drugs, including meth, cocaine, LSD, and heroin, can result in federal drug crimes and charges.

State and federal agencies will sometimes work together to determine whether a person accused of drug-related crime should be charged either at the state or federal level, and the penalties for violating federal drug laws are often far more serious than state penalties. If you have been charged with federal crimes related to possession, distribution, or trafficking of drugs, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side. Many convictions for violating federal drug laws carry a mandatory sentence and jail time is often longer. And, if it is not your first drug or drug trafficking offense, the penalties – should you be convicted – can often be dire.

Federal Drug Charges

The most common reason someone is indicted on a federal drug charge, rather than at the state level, is because large amounts of drugs were involved and those drugs were transported from other states and/or countries to Ohio. So, you can still be charged at the federal level without ever stepping foot outside Ohio.

Types of Federal Drug Charges

If you are charged by the federal government on drug-related crimes, the charges are similar to those types of charges you would face at the state level:

  • Drug possession
  • Drug trafficking
  • Drug manufacturing
  • Conspiracy to commit drug trafficking or manufacturing

Penalties for Federal Drug Crime Convictions

If you are convicted of a federal drug crime, your sentence will likely depend on the amount of drugs you were convicted of and your criminal history.  Other factors that can increase your sentence are whether anyone died as a result of your actions, whether you were in possession of a weapon, and whether you have any previous similar convictions. The manufacture, possession and/or trafficking of drugs in large quantities (more than a kilo of cocaine, more than 10 grams of LSD, more than 50 grams of meth, or more than 1,000 kilos of marijuana) result in a minimum 10-year sentence, up to life in prison. Crimes related to smaller drug amounts may still carry minimum sentences of five years up to 40 years. Any drug crime resulting in death or injury to others can result in a 20-year-minimum sentence. Fines can also be in the millions of dollars.

What to Do If You Are Arrested for Federal Drug Crimes

Prior to your preliminary hearing, you should retain an experienced criminal attorney. You will be in custody until the preliminary hearing. The federal government only has to prove probable cause at the preliminary hearing, so your case is unlikely to be dismissed at this point, but your best bet for being released until the case is heard is by having an attorney who can argue for your ability to post bail until you go to court. Your attorney can help you:

  • Demonstrate ties to the community
  • Provide character witnesses
  • Minimize the severity of the charges
  • Assure the judge you have a place to stay
  • Assure the judge you are able to stay away from criminal influence

If you have been charged with any kind of federal drug charge, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who is experienced with federal law. The procedure, rules of evidence, and investigation periods all differ from state law, so an experienced federal criminal defense attorney is essential. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Criminal Defense Attorney.

Why Was I Charged with a DUI or OVI?

It comes as a shock to many citizens who are charged with an OVI to discover that even though it felt like they were passing the field sobriety tests.

IMG_3453bWere you arrested or issued a ticket for an OVI even though you believed you had passed the field sobriety tests given by the officer? It comes as a shock to many citizens who are charged with an OVI to discover that even though it felt like they were passing the field sobriety tests. Unfortunately, the telltale signs of inebriation that the officer is looking for can be dramatically different from what you believe you’re demonstrating during the test. Officers in Ohio are trained to look for specific behaviors and physiological symptoms that indicate a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit of 0.08.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are used by Ohio officers to determine the likelihood that a driver will have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. Often, the officers will begin field sobriety testing with the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. What you’ll be asked to do is simple: follow a pen, light, or finger with your eyes as it moves back and forth. You may feel as if you are “passing” the test because you are able to follow the object with your eyes. Unfortunately, what the officer is watching for is nystagmus, a twitch that occurs involuntarily. Alcohol is not the only cause of nystagmus; other neurological conditions and chemicals (nicotine, caffeine) can also cause these twitches.

Balance tests are also used to test for sobriety. The officer will ask you to stand on one leg to help determine whether or not you are over the legal blood-alcohol limit to be driving. You may be able to stand on one foot for the full 30 seconds, but the officer is watching for other clues as well, including swaying, using arms to balance, or hopping – all of which can indicate to the officer that you have been drinking.

The walk and turn test is another common field sobriety test. You’ve likely seen something similar on TV shows or in movies. The driver is instructed to walk a straight line, with the heel touching the toe on each step. The driver is typically instructed to take a specific number of steps, then turn and return. Even if you walk a straight line during this test, the officer is also watching for other clues of inebriation, including an inability to follow instructions, an inability to keep heel and toe together, and pauses during the test.

What to Do If You Get an OVI

Operating a vehicle while impaired, or OVI, is a broadened scope of a driving under the influence charge, and you don’t even have to be currently driving the vehicle to be charged with OVI. If the officer is unable to determine if you drove the vehicle, you can be charged under the Physical Control statute.  If you are charged with an OVI, it is important to get an experienced Ohio OVI attorney who is familiar with the administration of field sobriety tests to help you.

It is possible to fight OVI and Physical Control charges, but an experienced attorney who is familiar with the tests and equipment used by Ohio officers can help. This is particularly crucial if you were charged with an OVI after a breathalyzer or blood test. If you have been charged with an OVI or Physical Control crime in Cleveland or Northeast Ohio, you will need an experienced criminal attorney to help you navigate the criminal process. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney.

Ohio OVI Laws – Arm Yourself with Knowledge

IgnitionIn January, 2005 Ohio’s Physical Control Statute (R.C. 4511.194) went into effect. This statute governs “physical control” of a vehicle and is similar to statutes governing DUI, except that you don’t have to have the vehicle on or even be driving to be charged under Ohio’s physical control statute.

Ohio’s Physical Control Statute states:

“’Physical control’ means being in the driver’s position of the front seat of a vehicle or in the driver’s position of a streetcar or trackless trolley and having possession of the vehicle’s, streetcar’s, or trackless trolley’s ignition key or other ignition device.”

It goes on to say that no person can be in physical control of a vehicle (i.e., in the driver’s seat) if that person:

  • Is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of them
  • Has a blood alcohol content of .08 or more.

What does the Physical Control Law mean for citizens?

Because of this law, it is no longer safe to “sleep it off” in your car, especially if you put the key in the ignition or plan to run the car to heat or cool it. Having car keys “within reach” satisfies the statute’s definition of physical control. While it may seem like another layer of legal maneuvering, the Physical Control statute is a positive step. It offers a reduced punishment for those who drink but choose not to drive. However, your best bet is to not get behind the wheel for any reason if you have been drinking.

Can my attorney help me get the charge reduced?

An effective attorney may be able to help you get a physical control charge reduced to a lesser charge, but many variables will come into play, such as:

  • Your driving and criminal record
  • The officer’s report and the facts surrounding the charge(s)
  • Your blood alcohol content at the time
  • The judge’s feelings toward physical control charges
  • Whether or not you drove or caused an accident in advance of the physical control issue

Because Ohio courts have a low to no tolerance attitude toward OVI/DUI cases, it is crucial that you find a Cleveland criminal attorney who is experienced in handling DUI, OVI, and Physical Control cases.

If you have been charged with a DUI/OVI or Physical Control crime in Cleveland or Northeast Ohio, you need an experienced criminal attorney to help you navigate the criminal process. For more information and a free consultation, please contact Jeff Hastings, experienced Cleveland Criminal Defense Attorney.