Ohio Illegal Cultivation / Grow Houses
Marijuana or cannabis cultivation is growing or harvesting the flowering plant or its buds for personal or medicinal production and use. Marijuana can be grown indoors or outdoors and although some states permit the production of marijuana, Ohio has not legalized marijuana grow houses for any purpose. An individual charged will illegal cultivation can face severe penalties including prison time and/or fines (even more severe than drug charges); therefore, it is crucial to hire a Columbus marijuana cultivation defense lawyer.
Columbus Marijuana Cultivation Defense Lawyer
The Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm can help you avoid the most severe penalties and punishments for your marijuana cultivation charges in Columbus, Ohio. Brian Joslyn will make every effort to find the best possible outcome for your situation. Call the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation today.
Marijuana Grow House Operations in Ohio
A marijuana grow house is either an indoor or outdoor system for cultivating marijuana and often consists of sophisticated irrigation systems, lighting systems and electrical wiring. A grow house can be any structure or place containing marijuana including, but not limited to a home, greenhouse, trailer or shed.
Ohio’s Cultivation of Marijuana Statute
Cultivation of marijuana, governed by the Ohio Revised Code § 2925.04, is a specific intent offense, and is defined as the knowing of illegal preparation, production, growing, producing, or manufacturing of marijuana or substances containing marijuana. The “knowing” element involves purposeful conduct, with knowledge, in furtherance of the activity. This means the offender must knowingly or reasonably believe the cultivated substance 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.
Penalties for Marijuana Cultivation/Manufacture
Under Ohio law, cultivation of marijuana can be either a misdemeanor or felony offense, but depends on the amount grown or cultivated. A conviction for this offense can result in severe and potentially life-altering consequences, which may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Jail/prison time,
- Criminal record,
- Mandatory driver’s license suspension for six months,
- Harm to military status,
- Harm to reputation in the community,
- Loss of certain professional licenses,
- Inability to apply for certain types of employment,
- Jeopardy to child custody or adoption proceedings,
- Difficulty in obtaining student loans,
- Difficulty in obtaining subsidized housing, food stamps or other government assistance;
- Denial of entrance into certain foreign countries, and/or
- Denial of a right to vote or to own a firearm in felony convictions.
In some instances, having one’s criminal record sealed may be a solution to many collateral issues. This option is only available for certain offenses, so it is important to consult with an attorney to discuss how you can either prevent or alleviate the consequences to a conviction.
Cultivation of Marijuana Penalties in Ohio
As mentioned, the severity of the penalty in each particular case largely depends on the amount of marijuana possessed or cultivated. The table below illustrates the consequences to marijuana cultivation offenses.
Marijuana Cultivation Penalties in Ohio
Offense level if in Vicinity of School or Juvenile
Less than 100 grams
100 – 200 grams
M – 4
200 grams – 1 kilogram
6 – 12 Months With Sentencing guided by O.R.C. §2929.13(B)
6 – 18 Months With Sentencing guided by O.R.C. §2929.13(B)
1 kilogram – 5 kilograms
1 – 5 Years With Sentencing guided by O.R.C. §2929.13(C)
2 – 8 Years With Sentencing guided by O.R.C. §2929.13(C)
5 – 20 kilograms
1 – 5 Years With a rebuttable presumption in favor of imposing a prison sentence
2 – 8 Years With a rebuttable presumption in favor of imposing a prison sentence
Greater than 20 kilograms
2 – 8 Years Judge must impose a prison term of 8 years
3 – 10 Years Judge must impose a prison term of 10 years
Ohio Police Investigation Statistics on Grow House Operations
In recent years, law enforcement officials have increased dedicating time and resources to arresting and charging those who cultivate and manufacture marijuana. According to the Ohio Attorney General, 70,000 marijuana plants were seized last year in Ohio.
Law enforcement uses a variety of innovative tactics for monitoring marijuana grow house operations, including surveillance of hydroponic supply stores. Sometimes law enforcement may set up bogus online hydroponic stores to monitor who visits the site and show interest in the product. Police may also use thermal imaging devices to monitor the amount of heat generated within the structure or dwelling where marijuana cultivation takes place.
Law enforcement must have probable cause the marijuana cultivation or growing is in progress. If law enforcement officers have probable cause, they will seek a warrant for your arrest and/or to search your property.
Informants may also be used to target the alleged offender. Tips are often acquired from informants with a particular bias against the alleged offender or with personal motivation to exchange information for a reduction or dismissal of their own pending criminal charges.
Investigations and searches of marijuana grow houses are usually conducted through stakeouts of homes, similar dwellings suspected of containing marijuana, grow shops or light stores. Odor, noise, water leakage and resulting damage can lead to a marijuana drug bust in any of these places. Other law enforcement tactics for tracking down marijuana cultivation can include meter reading, unusual electricity consumption, police helicopter surveillance and the use of thermal imaging devices. Another means of discovering a marijuana grow house is through consent of the owner.
Probable Cause to Search Indoor Grow House Operations
Police can raid indoor marijuana grow house operations by detecting the smell of marijuana or through electric bill monitoring. High kilowatt usage or stolen usage coupled with the distinct odor of marijuana plants are usually enough to satisfy probable cause for a search warrant.
Police may also find marijuana paraphernalia in your trash can on the street curb, where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. After finding evidence of marijuana cultivation during a so-called trash pull, police may be able to secure a search warrant.
Another method law enforcement officers may obtain probable cause is through a tip from a neighbor who suspects you are cultivating marijuana. A confidential informant can also report the activity to the police.
Other individuals engaged in marijuana activity may reveal the presence of indoor marijuana plants in your home to either obtain a reduced sentence or to eliminate business competition. Police can also discover indoor marijuana cultivation through voluntary consent of the person who owns the grow house.
A search must be conducted through a properly executed warrant that specifically mentions the place, items and/or individuals to be searched and/or seized.
If the search is conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement to obtain a valid warrant, your attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence derived from the unlawful search and seizure. A successful motion can either reduce the charges to a lesser offense or lead to a dismissal of the charges against you.
Probable Cause For Outdoor Cultivation Operations
An outdoor marijuana grow house may be more visible to law enforcement than an indoor operation simply by its visibility. Police may be able to spot a greenhouse or a lath house in plain view and detect the odor of marijuana just by approaching the outdoor grow house. Also, the presence of landscaping equipment gives rise to circumstantial evidence of marijuana growth, as does the accumulation of mold on plants left unattended.
Marijuana Grow House Operations Encountered By Accident
It is not uncommon for marijuana grow house operations to be found by accident. For example, the scent of marijuana in the air can alert police passing in a car or on a motorbike to the existence of a grow house in a certain area. An explosion caused by faulty electrical wiring also can bring a grow house operation to police attention. If a grow house is found by accident, law enforcement officials must secure a warrant to search the premises and seize the marijuana in question.
Property Seizure As a Result of Marijuana Cultivation Charges
Under Ohio Rev. Code § 2933.43, any contraband may be seized that bears a relationship to an underlying felony, such as the felonious possession, cultivation and/or manufacture of marijuana. The contraband can be a watercraft, motor vehicle, aircraft or personal property such as marijuana plants. If the property is registered or titled, notification must be given to the owner at the owner’s last known address within 3 days after the seizure. The notice can also be given verbally by any means, including telephone or by certified mail, return receipt requested.
The seized contraband must be held for a reasonable time, but not exceeding seventy-two hours. If at any time prior to the expiration of that time period, the law enforcement agency files a petition for additional time to inspect, investigate or gather evidence, the agency may file a petition in the court of common pleas that has jurisdiction over the case. An immediate hearing will be scheduled upon the filing of the petition.
Federal Law Regarding Marijuana Cultivation / Grow Houses
The federal government considers marijuana to be a highly dangerous and addictive drug, and has no recognized medicinal purposes. This law is governed by the federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 811) and applies to possession, distribution and cultivation of large amounts of marijuana.
Under the federal sentencing guidelines, all marijuana offenses are susceptible to prison time, but it is not mandatory. The greater the amount of marijuana in question, the more likely an individual will receive a lengthy prison sentence, as opposed to probation or other sentences.
- If an offender has multiple prior convictions, they can possibly receive probation time from one to 12 months without jail/prison time.
- Without prior convictions, possession of over 1 kg of marijuana carries a sentence of six to 12 months with the possibility of probation and alternative penalties.
- One must spend at least six months in prison for possession of over 2.5 kg, even without prior convictions.
- An individual with a history of multiple convictions may face a sentence of up to two to three years in prison, without a chance of probation.
The Supreme Court case of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), rendered the above rules advisory, rather than mandatory. However, federal judges continue to follow the federal sentencing guidelines.
Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm | Marijuana Grow House Attorney in Columbus
Contact the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm today for a consultation about your cultivation of marijuana charge in Columbus, Ohio. It is important to hire an experienced marijuana crimes defense attorney who will make every effort to help you find least severe punishments to the charges against you. Contact Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Criminal Defense Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your marijuana charges in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County and Fairfield County in Ohio.