Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Though many states have decriminalized marijuana, it remains illegal in Ohio. Therefore, using, possessing, distributing, trafficking or cultivating marijuana and engaging in any other related activity can lead to penalties which range from small fines to years in prison. These marijuana penalties apply to everyone, including those traveling to Ohio from states where medical marijuana is legal.
Penalties for being in possession of marijuana depend on the amount the alleged offender has in their possession. But, possession or distribution of small amounts has been decriminalized and only incurs a small fine of $150 with no prison time. And, because the charge is a misdemeanor, it doesn’t become part of the offender’s criminal record.
Possessing 100g or less is a minor misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum fine of $150. Getting caught with 100 to 200g is treated as a petty crime, and its penalties include a maximum sentence of 30 days in prison and a fine of up to $250.
Possessing 200 to 1,000g is a felony. The penalties include a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine not exceeding $2,500. Being found with 1,000 to 20,000g is a third-degree felony punishable by five to eight years in prison and a $7,500 to $15,000 fine. Possessing 40,000g or more attracts harsh penalties, which include a prison sentence of at least eight years and a fine of $10,000 to $20,000.
It is a crime to cultivate, grow or engage in the distribution of marijuana in Ohio. Gifting someone 20g or less is a misdemeanor which is punished by a fine of up to $150. A subsequent conviction attracts harsher penalties in the form of a maximum fine of $500 and up to 60 days in prison.
A conviction for the sale of 200g or more leads to a fine of up to $2,500 and a maximum sentence of 18-months’ imprisonment. Selling 200 to 1,000g is a fourth-degree felony and can result in one to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500.
Anyone who sells or distributes 1,000 to 20,000g is guilty of a third-degree felony, and he or she is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of one to five years in prison. Selling or possessing with intent to sell 20,000 to 40,000g is a second-degree felony which may be punished by a fine of up to $15,000 and five to eight years in prison.
Selling or distributing 40,000 grams or more is a second-degree felony. The conviction may result in a fine of up to $20,000 and a mandatory minimum sentence of eight years’ imprisonment.
Penalties for cultivating marijuana are similar to those of possession. However, the penalties become harsher with each subsequent conviction, and when committed within 1,000 feet of a school.
In 2016, Ohio introduced a medical cannabis program which allows qualified patients to legally possess and use marijuana. This program is regulated by several state agencies and provides legal protections to patients, providers, doctors and caregivers who meet the requirements.
The Ohio medical cannabis program created under HB 523 in 2016 stipulates that only a certified marijuana doctor can recommend medical cannabis for the treatment of qualifying conditions. So, any patient or caregiver looking to use medical marijuana must apply for a recommendation from a physician who has registered with the State Board of Pharmacy to serve as a cannabis doctor.
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