What counts as a drug offense under Ohio law?

A single chapter of the Ohio Revised Code includes 24 sections that spell out drug offenses, ranging from illegal possession to "corrupting others with drugs" and funding drug trafficking. Essentially, you can face arrest and conviction if you do anything involving a product defined as a controlled substance.

Do federal drug laws differ from Ohio drug laws?

No in theory, but generally yes in practice.

Drawing the attention of federal law enforcement officials almost requires moving products, money, or people across state lines and/or national borders. Therefore, agencies like the DEA, ATF, and FBI get most involved in cases involving drug smuggling and trafficking, internet sales of illegally imported medications (especially steroids), and laundering drug money.

While federal authorities will take low-level dealers and operatives into custody, they do so pretty much only when they have a larger case to make and can substantiate serious charges. If you have been arrested in Ohio by U.S. agents, securing representation by an experienced drug trafficking attorney will be a good idea.

What drugs can get me in trouble with the law?

Controlled substances are defined by the federal government and Ohio as plants and natural or manmade chemicals that can cause harm, be abused, and induce addiction. The drugs that law enforcement officials and lawmakers consider most dangerous are placed in Schedule I, partly because they do not have officially recognized therapeutic uses. As discussed below, almost as equally risky drugs that do have medical benefits are categorized as Schedule II.

Here is a short list of Schedule I drugs:

  • Marijuana/Cannabis and almost all products described as synthetic marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD
  • Peyote
  • Psilocybin/Hallucinogenic mushrooms

Do any prescription medications count as scheduled drugs?

Hundreds. Drugs schedule categories run from I to V, with the category number increasing as the perceived risks posed by a drug decreases. Under this system, Schedule II drugs include amphetamines and methamphetamines, which are used to treat narcolepsy and attention-deficit disorder, as well as cocaine, which surgeons and dentists use to control bleeding and provide local anesthesia.

Many prescription painkillers, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medications, sleep aids, and psychiatric meds appear in Schedules II-V. To avoid both unintended health problems and unexpected run-ins with the law, you should speak with your doctor and pharmacist whenever you get prescribed a drug that comes with warnings about abuse, dependence, and addiction.

Can doctors, pharmacists, and other health care providers face charges related to controlled prescription medications?

Of course. Prescribing, dispensing, and administering controlled substances without the proper licenses and training violates state and federal laws. Also, providing drugs of abuse to individuals who appear to be addicted or engaged in illegal trade can also bring drug offense charges.

Does Ohio use the same list of controlled drugs as the federal government?

For the most part, yes. However, state and local police can make arrests and issue citations for the possession, use, and manufacture or sale of salvia and ephedrine, which do not appear on the federal schedule. Salvia is a plant that produces hallucinogenic effects, and Ohio police screen for it when testing drivers for suspicion of operating while impaired (OVI). Ephedrine is a banned metabolism booster that still appears in many weight-loss products and energy drinks sold over the internet.

So, I should worry about taking drugs and driving?

Yes, you should, even a drug that has been prescribed by a doctor.

Both drunk and drugged driving fall under the definition of OVI. In fact, Ohio state law recognizes legal limits for blood concentrations of several drugs, including marijuana, prescribed and illegally obtained amphetamines, and salvia.

What can happen if I get convicted of a drug offense?

The potential penalties for drug offense convictions run the gamut from small fines for simple possession of a small amount of marijuana to serious felonies for an apparently minor offense like having heroin residue on your clothes to life in a federal penitentiary for drug trafficking.

The penalties for driving under the influence of a scheduled drug are the same as for an OVI conviction related to alcohol use.

It is also important to know that health care workers accused of drug offenses often lose their license to practice at least temporarily.

In general, sentencing will depend on the charge, the type of drug(s) involved, the amount of drug(s) found with you or connected to your activities, and whether your use of or involvement with drugs directly caused anyone to suffer injuries.

Speaking with a Columbus drug crimes lawyer as soon as you can after getting arrested for an alleged drug offense will help you understand the consequences you may face.

How can I defend myself against a conviction on a drug offense charge?

Contact Campbell Law to request a free case assessment from a Columbus criminal attorney. We have extensive experience defending people accused of drug offenses.

Knowing which questions to ask about how arrests were conducted, how evidence was collected and analyzed, and whether mitigating factors like medical need apply makes a great difference in how drug offense cases turn out.

The legal team at Campbell Law understands that drug laws can be enforced haphazardly and unfairly. Because there are so many issues that arise from the way police interact with those accused of drug crimes, its important to hire an attorney who knows how to argue your case. Campbell Law is the firm you need. We never want to see anyone fined or jailed based on unsound police work or overzealous prosecutions.