In an update to a previous blog post, the Ohio Supreme Court has decided a case that has drastic implications for how the weight of drugs, and specifically cocaine, is determined. In State v. Gonzales, the Court held that the State must prove the weight of the actual cocaine, excluding any weight of filler materials used in the mixture.
In reaching its decision, the Court noted that the statutory language criminalizing possession of cocaine unambiguously requires the State to prove the amount “of cocaine” involved. Since the definition of cocaine in the Revised Code does not include a mixture, the statute clearly requires the State to prove the amount of cocaine in the substance, independent of any filler.
While this is a tremendous win for the defense bar, it may only apply to cocaine cases. The statutory definition of cocaine is unique as it does not include mixtures. The definition of marijuana, on the other hand, does include mixtures. Therefore, a defendant can be charged with the whole weight of an edible marijuana mixture despite the fact that the actual amount of marijuana in the mixture is much less.
One other potential concern is that the legislature may amend the definition of cocaine and the drug possession statute to include a mixture of cocaine and filler materials. Regardless, the current state of Ohio law requires the State and its laboratory technicians to perform purity/quantitative analyses of drugs. These analyses will undoubtedly place both time and financial strain on the State crime labs.