As of July 30, 2019, hemp became legal in the State of Ohio. The difference between marijuana and hemp could be an important legal defense in drug trafficking and drug possession cases.
This month, City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession in Cincinnati for individuals who possess up to 100 grams. But does this mean people can light up a joint within the city limits? Not so fast.
State regulators have scheduled a final inspection of 525 Genntown Drive in Lebanon this week as part of the final step towards About Wellness Ohio obtaining the certificate of operation needed to run the facility. If the dispensary passes inspection it could open within a couple of weeks.
Last week, the 12th District Court of Appeals in State v. Woodard, 2017-Ohio-6914 held that drug possession charges based upon the simultaneous possession of two or more controlled substances are not allied offenses of similar import. Essentially, allied offenses of similar import are offenses committed by engaging in the same act with the same motivation or mindset. When someone commits two or more separate offenses that are allied offenses of similar import, the court must merge the sentences of the separate offenses (known as "merger" or "the merger doctrine").
Drug offenses under Ohio law, such as possession or trafficking, can vary depending on the weight or the amount of drug involved. All illegal drugs, whether they are prescription or street drugs, have a baseline level of offense that can increase depending on the amount of the drug. For example, possession of marijuana starts as a minor misdemeanor whereas possession of cocaine is a fifth degree felony. These charges will increase based on the weight of the drug. Possession of marijuana becomes a fifth degree felony if the defendant possessed at least 200 grams but less than 1,000 grams. One other consideration to keep in mind is that if the drug is combined with other substances, such as baking soda and cocaine, marijuana brownies, or hash oil mixed with a substance, then the entire weight of the substance or compound is taken into account, not just the weight of the amount of the drug involved. So .99 pounds of baking soda mixed with .01 pounds of cocaine is 1 pound of cocaine.
In yet another update to previous blog posts (here, and here), the Ohio Supreme Court has reconsidered a case that has drastic implications for how the weight of drugs, and specifically cocaine, is determined. In State v. Gonzales, the Court initially held that the State must prove the weight of the actual cocaine, excluding any weight of filler materials used in the mixture. The State requested that the Court reconsider its decision and, when it did, it reversed its previous decision and now held that the entire "compound, mixture, preparation, or substance," including any fillers that are part of the usable drug, must be considered for the purpose of determining the appropriate penalty for cocaine possession.
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.
Ohio recently enacted a new law in an attempt to save lives as part in light of the state's worsening opioid and heroin overdose epidemic. On September 13, 2016, House Bill 110, also known as the Good Samaritan Law became effective. This law prevents overdose victims and those calling for aid from being charged criminally for minor drug possession offenses, which covers all misdemeanor and fifth degree felony possession offenses.
In addition to the mandatory driver's license suspension that must be imposed for a drug conviction in Ohio, Defendants, especially ones enrolled in or considering applying to college, must also be aware of the ramifications of a drug conviction on their student aid. The FAFSA application specifically asks, "Have you been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (such as grants, loans or work-study)?" Thus, even a conviction for a minor misdemeanor possession of marijuana can have major ramifications for financial aid.
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