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At present, cannabis remains illegal for recreational use in Ohio; however, the state has taken a largely relaxed approach to cannabis crimes, eliminating heavy penalties for possession and consumption of small quantities of marijuana. Indeed, since 1975, the possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis in Ohio has been decriminalised, transforming the state’s approach to the punishment of cannabis-related crimes,
While Ohio became the 6th U.S state to decriminalise cannabis in 1975, the state has still yet to adopt a fully legalised cannabis market for both medical and recreational users despite the legalisation of medical marijuana in 2016.
In this article, we take a closer look at the existing marijuana laws in the 7th most populated U.S state.
Ohio Cannabis Law
While a recreational market remains sadly absent with the most recent initiative to formally legalise recreational cannabis failing in 2014, the medical use of cannabis was first legalised in 2016 with the first sales occurring in 2019.
Under the law, anyone aged 21 and older can legally shop at medical cannabis dispensaries in the state. Proof of age and a medical marijuana card are required to purchase any marijuana product.
So, what is the current status regarding cannabis in the state of Ohio?
Unfortunately, the consumption of cannabis by smoking is restricted under the law, which permits cannabis use only in edible, oil, vapour, patch, tincture, or plant matter form.
For all drug convictions, the offender’s driver’s license is also suspended for a period of 6 months – 5 years. This does not apply to minor misdemeanor violations for marijuana possession. Professional licenses are also suspended.
Delivery of 20 grams or less, for no remuneration, is considered possession and is punished with a fine of $100. Sale or distribution of less than 200 grams carries a penalty of 6 – 18 months in jail. Sale or distribution of 200 grams or more is punishable by 1 – 5 years in prison. Sale or distribution of 600 grams or greater carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six months and a possible 2 – 8 year sentence.
Sale to minors, sale within 1,000 feet of a school, sale within 100 feet of a juvenile, and previous felony drug convictions all increase the penalty for the sale or distribution of marijuana.
Possession of paraphernalia is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and sale of paraphernalia is punishable by up to 90 days in jail.
Mandatory minimum sentence: When someone is convicted of an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must sentence the defendant to the mandatory minimum sentence or to a higher sentence. The judge has no power to sentence the defendant to less time than the mandatory minimum. A prisoner serving an MMS for a federal offense and for most state offenses will not be eligible for parole. Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to “life MMS” must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.
Possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana is a citable offense only, with a fine of $100. Possession of 100 grams or more is punishable by a fine of up to $250. For possession of 200 grams or more, the penalty increases to a possible sentence of 6 months – one year in jail. Possession of 1,000 grams or more is punishable by 1 – 5 years in prison. Any possession of less than 5,000 grams does not carry the presumption of prison, which leaves available the possibility of probation. Possession of 5,000 grams of marijuana or more is punishable by 1 – 5 years in prison. For any amount or 20,000 grams or more the penalty increases to a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years in prison.
Conditional release: The state allows conditional release or alternative or diversion sentencing for people facing their first prosecutions. Usually, conditional release lets a person opt for probation rather than trial. After successfully completing probation, the individual’s criminal record does not reflect the charge.