Marijuana use is hardly a new concept. Humans have used it for over five millennia, and almost half of the United States’ adult population has tried it. Still, marijuana is strictly prohibited under the law. Where law enforcement can find an offender, the pursuit, arrest, charge and/or conviction will be relentless.
Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) has many terms and is also known as bud, weed, chronic, gangster, grass, hash, herb, kief, mary jane, pot, reefer, grass, nugget, skunk, dank, ganja and hashish. Marijuana (spelled “marihuana” under Ohio state law) is an illegal drug in Ohio and depending on an alleged offender’s charges, can incur very harsh penalties.
Whether you have been charged with marijuana possession, manufacturing cannabis, marijuana cultivation, cannabis distribution, marijuana transportation, cannabis trafficking, or possession of marijuana paraphernalia in Columbus, Ohio contact an experienced marijuana criminal defense attorney to discuss your case today, or read about marijuana frequently asked questions for answers to your questions.
At the Joslyn Law Firm, we understand that there are heartbeats behind statistics. You are not simply another client to us. You have a story and a unique set of circumstances which must be addressed with empathy and insight. We will vigorously advocate for you – either to attain a dismissal of the marijuana-related charges against you, a “not guilty” verdict, or to seek other alternatives to jail or prison time, such as probation or drug treatment options.
Columbus Marijuana Defense Lawyer
Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm will make every effort to find the best possible outcome to the marijuana charges brought against you in Columbus, Ohio. Brian Joslyn cares about the potentially devastating effects that a marijuana arrest and/or charge can have on your life, and wants not only to educate you about the consequences, but also help you to seek out every possible solution to your situation. Call the Joslyn Law Firm for a consultation today.
Ohio Marijuana Law Information Center
- The Science of Marijuana Use in Ohio
- Defending Your Marijuana Case in Columbus Ohio
- Federal and Ohio Marijuana Laws
- Possession of Marijuana under Ohio Law
- Possession vs. Use of Marijuana
- Miscellaneous Ohio Marijuana Offenses and Rules
- Potential Consequences to a Marijuana Conviction
- Penalties for Marijuana Crimes
- Potential Defenses to Marijuana Charges
- Medicinal Marijuana in Ohio
- Ohio Marijuana Resources
The Science of Marijuana
Marijuana / Cannabis Sativa contains a mind-altering property called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is one of the more than four hundred chemicals that make up the marijuana plant. Various marijuana plant types have different key ingredients, and the THC content can also vary from plant to plant.
Physical and Mental Effects of Marijuana – an increased level of THC can possibly cause the following symptoms: dry mouth or “cotton mouth,” blood-shot eyes, heart palpitations, loss of short-term memory and/or loss of motor coordination.
THC typically remains in the blood from one week to one month. Its presence in the blood as metabolites, or small molecules formed during detoxification and detectable during blood testing, can be of varying duration depending on the amount of THC ingested.
Defending Your Marijuana Case in Columbus Ohio
When trying your marijuana case, the state prosecutor must meet a significant burden and prove every element of the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution is unable to meet this burden, the charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed. Further, law enforcement officers often violate procedural requirements when arresting alleged offenders. If these facts apply to your case, the charges against you may also be dropped.
Marijuana evidence can frequently be concealed, confiscated, destroyed or lost. For example, negligent or willful actions by law enforcement seeking a charge or conviction can lead to evidence tampering. Evidence derived from an unlawful search and seizure or obtained as the result of an improperly executed warrant is “tainted” in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Ohio Constitution, Article I, Section 14. Because evidence and memories fade, it is important that you act immediately in hiring a criminal defense attorney who will help you find the best defense strategies possible.
Federal and Ohio Marijuana Laws
Marijuana is illegal in Ohio and under federal law. Although some other states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana-related charges, it is still illegal under Ohio and federal law. Therefore, anyone traveling into Ohio from a state where marijuana is legal is still subject to the penalties associated with marijuana use, possession, distribution, trafficking, cultivation and other related activities under Ohio law. According to Ohio Revised Code § 2925, marijuana offenses require “knowledge” and “reasonable belief.”
According the Ohio Revised Code, marijuana includes every part of the plant, including extracted resin or anything derived from it, and all compounds, mixtures or preparations, but does not include the following: the plant’s mature stalks, fibers of any kind produced from the mature stalks, oils derived from the plant’s seeds, cake created from the seeds, or any other mixture, preparation, or substance derived from the mature stalks. Exceptions to these rules are resin, oil, fiber of the mature stalks or the marijuana plant’s sterilized seed that is incapable of proper growth.
Federal laws also provide the government with the jurisdiction to seek and arrest those unlawfully involved with marijuana. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are considered under the law to have a high potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. For this reason, marijuana and other Schedule I drug charges can lead to severe sentences under federal law.
Marijuana Possession under Ohio Law
First Offense For Marijuana Possession § 2925.11 – First time offenders are individuals who have not had prior convictions for the same or another offense in the state of Ohio or in any other jurisdiction. Penalties for first-time offenders depend on the amount of marijuana the alleged offender had in their possession.
Some first time marijuana offenders will be eligible to seal their criminal record. However, this remedy is only available to those who have not been charged or convicted of an underlying violent felony.
Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana / Cannabis Less than 200 grams – The simple possession of less than 200 grams of marijuana in Ohio is a misdemeanor, which can incur a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and up to a $250 fine.
Felony Possession of Marijuana in Columbus / Cannabis more than 200 grams – Consequences for felony possession of marijuana charges in Ohio are severe and can have serious and lasting consequences. In Ohio, the possession of marijuana greater than 200 grams is a felony. The minimum charge for felonious possession of marijuana can result in twelve-month jail sentence.
The following is a chart of the marijuana possession penalties:
Marijuana Volume in Grams
Maximum Jail/Prison Time
Less than 100
100 – 200
Misdemeanor of the 4th Degree
201 – 999
Felony of the 5th Degree
1000 – 4999
Felony of the 3rd Degree
5000 – 19,999
Felony of the 3rd Degree
20,000 or more
Felony of the 2nd Degree
Mandatory 8 Years
Possession vs. Use of Marijuana in Ohio
The terms “possess” and “possession” mean having dominion and control over a drug or substance. However, possession cannot be inferred solely by having ownership or access to the premises where the drug or substance is located. Possession involves specific knowledge the item is marijuana, an intent to possess the marijuana and reasonable cause to believe that the substance is marijuana.
Possession can be actual or constructive. Actual possession is an individual’s direct possession of the substance itself. This involves the marijuana being on the individual’s body, clothing or in their purse. Constructive possession involves access to the marijuana, knowledge the substance was marijuana and knowledge the marijuana was an illegal or banned substance.
The term “use” means ingestion and/or any other means that causes the substance to enter the bloodstream, such as eating, drinking, smoking.
Miscellaneous Ohio Marijuana Offenses
It is a crime to commit any offense involving any amount of marijuana or cannabis in Ohio.
- Illegal Marijuana Cultivation and Grow Houses – Marijuana or cannabis cultivation is growing or harvesting the flowering plant or its buds for personal or medicinal production and use. Cultivation of marijuana, governed by the Ohio Revised Code § 2925.04, is a specific intent offense. This means that the offender must knowingly and/or reasonably believe the substance being cultivated is actually marijuana. Although the statute generally classifies the offense as a misdemeanor, it can carry fines and a presumption of prison time, depending on the degree of the offense, where it was committed and the amount of marijuana in question.
- Trafficking in Marijuana – Under the Ohio Revised Code § 2925.03, no one shall knowingly sell or offer to sell a controlled substance. Additionally, no one should prepare to ship, transport or deliver a controlled substance when the alleged offender knows or has reasonable cause to believe the controlled substance is intended for sale or resale to another person.
- Delivery of Marijuana / Cannabis – Delivery involves knowingly carrying marijuana from one place to another – even a very short distance, and a belief that the delivery has taken or will take place. Delivery can be actual or constructive. Delivery of less than twenty grams of marijuana/cannabis does not constitute a “bulk amount” as defined in 2925.01 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia – Marijuana paraphernalia charges in Ohio are typically misdemeanors. However, a conviction can result in a suspension of your driver’s license, up to 30 days in jail and/or fines. Marijuana paraphernalia in Ohio may be defined as any kind of material or equipment intended for the storage, manufacture, or ingestion of marijuana or other illegal drugs, such as bongs, pipes, roaches, manufacture equipment and any other item used for ingestion, use, manufacture or delivery of cannabis.
Potential Consequences to a Marijuana Conviction
When defending against a marijuana conviction, knowledge and preparation are vital. By knowing the consequences of a marijuana conviction, you will shield yourself from long-term and potentially life-altering effects.
Alleged offenders may face any one or more of the following direct penalties:
- Jail or prison sentence
- Probation or parole,
- Regular or random drug testing,
- Community service,
- Court-ordered substance abuse treatment,
- A criminal record, and/or
- License suspension.
Indirect penalties can also include, but are not limited to: limitations to employment opportunities, jeopardized child custody or adoption actions, difficulty in obtaining student loans or government subsidized housing, an inability to apply for food stamps or other government assistance, denial of entrance into some foreign countries, denial of the right to vote or to possess firearms, difficulty with entering the military or harm to your military status, harm to your reputation in the community, limitations to working in specialized professional fields, and/or denial of your right to hold public office.
Penalties for Marijuana Crimes
Possible penalties for marijuana offenses can vary based on the facts of each individual case, previous criminal record, probation or parole status, and the following factors:
- The level of the felony or misdemeanor charge,
- Whether the alleged offender was arrested in close proximity to a school,
- Whether it was a first offense,
- Whether the alleged offender was on probation when arrested,
- The amount of marijuana in the alleged offender’s possession, and/or
- Whether the alleged offender was in possession of a weapon or firearm in connection with the marijuana arrest.
Below are the basic sentencing guidelines for various types of marijuana crimes in Ohio. However, the tables only illustrate a generalized sentencing scheme, which can be enhanced by various factors, including, but not limited to, the following:
- The amount of the marijuana seized,
- The packaging of marijuana, and/or
- Whether the individual was charged in Ohio state court or federal court.
MISDEMEANOR JAIL TERMS AND FINES – Ohio Revised Code §2929.24
FELONY JAIL TERMS AND FINES – Ohio Revised Code §2929.13
For a more comprehensive guide, refer to the Felony Sentencing Quick Reference Guide provided by the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission.
These sentencing guidelines provide only potential jail or prison sentences and fines. Upon an individual’s conviction, the court can utilize a number of other sentencing enhancements and alternatives, including suspension of a driver’s license, forfeiture of personal property, court-ordered drug treatment programs, probation, parole and several others. Therefore, it is imperative to hire an experienced Columbus marijuana defense lawyer.
Potential Defenses to Marijuana Charges
A marijuana arrest and charge does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. There are several defenses to marijuana charges that can possibly result in a dismissal of the charges against you.
Potential defenses to marijuana charges may include:
- Illegal search and seizure
- A violation of an individual’s Constitutional rights
- A Statute of Limitations has elapsed
- Mistaken identity
- Failure to give Miranda warnings
Challenging the admissibility of evidence is one of the most effective criminal defenses to possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, sale of marijuana, trafficking marijuana, manufacture of marijuana and cultivation of marijuana.
The evidence obtained by the police before or after your arrest is often the backbone of the state prosecutor’s case against you. However, in obtaining the evidence that will be used against you at your criminal trial, the police must comply with search and seizure laws and respect each individual’s constitutional rights.
Law enforcement officers often violate individual constitutional rights when pursuing marijuana arrests. Violations can include the following: interrogation without Miranda warnings or in violation of an individual’s Fifth Amendment rights, conducting a warrantless search and seizure, conducting a search and seizure without probable cause and unlawful execution of a search and seizure warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
A marijuana conviction in Ohio requires the state prosecutor to prove every element of the marijuana charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution cannot meet this high burden of proof, there can be no marijuana conviction.
State prosecutors often charge individuals without having the evidence necessary to prove each and every element of the marijuana charge. If the prosecution cannot prove the criminal elements of the marijuana charge, your case may be dismissed or result in an acquittal, or not guilty verdict.
Potential issues that may support an acquittal, motion to suppress evidence or dismissal:
- Whether the prosecution can prove that you knew of the marijuana in your possession;
- Whether the prosecution can prove that you knew that the marijuana was in your vehicle or home;
- Whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence as to prove each element of the marijuana charge beyond a reasonable doubt;
- Whether the police entrapped you through the use of a confidential informant or undercover police officer;
- Whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence as to charge you with “intent to sell” marijuana;
- Whether the police had a valid search warrant to search your home;
- Whether your rights were violated in the execution of the search warrants;
- Whether the police had probable cause to arrest you for the possession, sale, or cultivation of marijuana;
- Whether law enforcement had legal cause to stop your vehicle and conduct a search of your persons and vehicle;
- Whether the police properly gave you Miranda warnings upon your arrest for marijuana;
- Whether the police properly interrogated you following your arrest.
If you have been charged with a marijuana crime in Ohio and believe possible defenses exist to your case, it is imperative to contact a Columbus marijuana defense lawyer to discover your options.
Ohio Medical Marijuana Laws
Although Ohio has not yet permitted medicinal marijuana, 15 out of 50 states and D.C. have legalized medicinal marijuana use. Those opposing medicinal marijuana believe it is injurious to the body and brain, impairs cognitive ability, motor coordination, driving ability, fertility, and lung health. Other unfavorable opinions arise from lack of FDA approval and the perception that medicinal marijuana is a cover for recreational use and drug legalization.
Despite the protests associated with medical marijuana use, there are numerous medical peer-reviewed articles, reports and studies which show that medicinal marijuana reduces pain and discomfort associated with various diseases and chronic illnesses, such as cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, migraine headaches, convulsive and other motion disorders, pain, nausea, vomiting and many other debilitating conditions.
However, the widespread positive medicinal effects of the drug have consistently been recognized around the world. Over 60 U.S. and international health organizations support granting patient’s immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under a physician’s supervision.
A poll taken by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) demonstrates that 73% of Ohioans approve of the use of medical marijuana.
Marijuana Resources in Ohio
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws – NORML is a non-profit organization that aims to decriminalize marijuana in the United States, including removing criminal penalties for personal and private use by adult users and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts of the drug. The organization is also committed to the protection of individuals’ legal rights to use medicinal marijuana for serious chronic illnesses and conditions. Central Ohio NORML can be contacted at:Central Ohio NORML
P.O. Box 737
Columbus, Ohio 43085
Ohio Patient Network – The Ohio Patient Network lobbies for marijuana reform and informs patients about current laws, reports and statistics of marijuana use and its effects. The organization is located at:Ohio Patient Network
1620 E. Broad St., Ste. 1603
Columbus, OH 43203
Initiatives for Medical Marijuana Passage– This article from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) highlights the beneficial effects of medicinal marijuana use for individuals with serious and debilitating conditions that have not found relief from FDA-approved medications.
Marijuana Policy Project – This non-profit organization seeks public support for non-punitive policies toward responsible adult marijuana use and medicinal use of the drug.
Americans for Safe Access – This organization is America’s largest organization of patients, healthcare professionals and citizens who support the use and research of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
Office of National Drug Control Policy – Marijuana Articles and Reports – The ONDCP’s website contains a page with information and statistics on marijuana, including facts on marijuana, frequently asked questions, miscellaneous resources and various marijuana publications.
Drug Enforcement Agency – Marijuana – This web site is a comprehensive resource for federal policies on marijuana, including a description of the drug, its long- and short-term effects, treatment resources and other useful statistics.
Marijuana Anonymous – This national organization is a marijuana support group assisting individuals with recovery from marijuana addiction.
Finding the Best Marijuana Defense Lawyer in Columbus
Contact the Joslyn Law Firm today for a consultation about your marijuana charge in Columbus, Ohio. It is important to hire an experienced Columbus criminal defense lawyer who will make every effort to help you find the best possible outcome for your situation. Call (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your marijuana charges in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Fayette County, Union County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County in Ohio.