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Drug Trafficking Laws, Schedules and Penalties in Ohio

Updated on February 7, 2015

Drug Trafficking in Ohio

Ohio drug trafficking laws are very strict and a person convicted of this offense may face severe consequences and penalties.

The penalties for drug trafficking in Ohio may include one or more of the following; fines, license cancellation, forfeiture of property or even a prison sentence. The sentence for drug trafficking depends on the type of drug, the place where the deal allegedly occurred, and its proximity to a school and the amount of the drug.

Penalties by Degree

Following is a list of sentences in Ohio, which might vary based on the facts of each individual case.

  • First Degree Misdemeanor-Up to 180 days in jail and/ or fine up to $ 1000.

  • Fifth Degree Felony (F5) - Imprisonment ranging from a period of 6-12 months and/or fine up to $2500.

  • Fourth Degree Felony (F4) - Sentence of 6 to 18 months imprisonment and/or fine up to $5000,

  • Third Degree Felony (F3) - Ohio sentences imprisonment for a period between one to five years and/ or fines not more than $10,000.

  • Second Degree Felony (F2) - For this charge, the sentence ranges from two to eight years imprisonment and /or fine not exceeding $15,000.

  • First Degree Felony (F1) - A sentence in prison ranging from three to ten years and/or fine up to $20,000.

Ohio Trafficking Offense Levels by Drug and Quantity

Offense Level
Near Minor
Prison Presumed
Marijuana (grams)
0 - 199
200 - 1,999
1,999 - 4,999
5,000 - 19,999
F3 | Mandatory F2
20,000 - 39,999
F2 Mand | F1 Max
40,000 +
F2 Max | F1 Max
Cocaine (grams)
0 - 4
5 - 9
10 - 19
F3 | Mand: F2 or F3 + priors
20 - 26
100 +
Heroin (grams or doses x 10)
1 - 4
5 - 9
10 - 49
50 - 249
250 +

Law Enforcement Increase Drug Trafficking Arrests On Ohio Roadways

Drug Trafficking Defined

Drug trafficking is the process of selling or offering of controlled substances. Controlled substances are drugs included in any of the schedules under Ohio law for drug trafficking. Many prescription medicines are also included in the schedules. Drug trafficking in Ohio is an offense that includes a wide variety of controlled substance violations including, intent to sell, distributing them, manufacturing them, cultivating them, selling them and more.

The Ohio law for drug trafficking says drug trafficking includes:

  • Selling or offering to sell a controlled substance

  • Preparing a controlled substance for shipment, delivery, sale, transport, or circulation.

The law also says that the seller need not get money from the buyer. Any kind of ‘distribution’ like barter, gift or exchange is punishable. However, if you are punished or charged by the laws, an efficient lawyer can help you fight for your side and win it for you.

A person who is charged, will have to go through the charges and penalties for drug trafficking. The possible sentences for drug trafficking relies on the kind of drug and the quantity of the drug. There are two types of punishment for drug trafficking. The person may either be imprisoned or financial sanctions more than $2,500 may be imposed on them. The person’s license may also be suspended for 6 months. Again, it depends on your lawyer help and the type of drug trafficking. The potential charges and penalties for drug trafficking depend on the schedule the drug was in, the amount of drug and if the trafficking has occurred near schools or juveniles. An experienced and knowledgeable drug defense lawyer can help a person who has been convicted to help him/her avoid harsh charges and penalties for drug trafficking. But, very quick action can only help the lawyer fight for the case in a better way.

Stacks of Seized Cocaine
Stacks of Seized Cocaine | Source

Ohio Controlled Substance Schedules

Under Ohio Rev. Code § 2925.03(C)(2), when a person knowingly sells or offers to sell a controlled substance, it is known as drug trafficking. Ohio state laws state that a controlled substance refers to a compound, drug, mixture or substance included in Schedules I to V of the Ohio Revised Code and the United States Attorney General’s Office.

The most commonly trafficked drugs may consist of illegal drugs, controlled substances, medications, chemicals and prescription drugs.

The classification of drugs in Ohio is done as under the Ohio Revised Code for different schedules between Schedule I to V. Schedule I contains the most addictive drugs which have no relevance to medicinal use, progressing on to Schedule V, which is a list of substances which are least addictive.

Under Ohio Rev. Code § 2925.03(C)(1), if controlled substance in Schedule I or II, are used in the alleged drug sale, then it is known as aggravated trafficking of drugs. The penalty for offenses including drugs listed in Schedule I and II are also severe. The substances included in Schedule IV and V contains drugs that have common accepted medicinal use in the USA and include prescription drugs such as Valium, Xanax, Ephedrine and small amounts of medications using narcotics.

Health professionals who are authorized to prescribe and sell these drugs and medications generally are exempted from charges for the legitimate trade of drugs which are used for medication.

Ohio Drug Sentencing

The possession of drugs is a punishable offense in Ohio, even if the drug is in possession for personal use. The penalties for possession of controlled substances depends on factors like amount and the types of substances, the proximity of the offense near a school or minor children and also to the substance’s classification in the Ohio Drug Schedules.

A Schedule I or II drug in a person’s possession can amount to charges of aggravated possession of drugs and sentenced to a minimum of fifth degree felony.

Depending on the amount of the controlled substance in possession, over and above the bulk amount, the sentence could range from felony of first to fifth degree. A person in possession of a controlled substance a hundred times of the bulk amount is considered to be a serious offender. All the above offenses result in compulsory imprisonment.

If the substance in possession belongs to the Schedule III,IV or V of the classification of drugs in Ohio, the offence could amount to a misdemeanor of first degree or a felony of first, second, fourth or fifth degree,


Additional Information on Trafficking Penalties

The state of Ohio regulates and controls the sale and purchase of CDS or Controlled Dangerous Substances. Ohio recognizes the compounds that are used for the manufacture of CDS substances like marijuana, hashish etc. also as coming under the purview of CDS. The illegal possession of CDS for personal use also has separate penalties in addition to what is set forth above.

Take a look at the sentence that a charge for a drug trafficking in Ohio can include:

In Ohio, drug trafficking may be charged as an Ohio offense, federal offense or both a state and federal offense. The potential penalty for trafficking depends on which schedule the drug belonged to, the amount of drug that was sold or exchanged, and if the place of trafficking was close to a school.

A person who is convicted of trafficking drugs included in Schedule II, IV or V may face charges that could range from a fifth degree to a first degree felony, a sentence of prison of 6 months to 10 years or fine up to $20,000.

In addition to this, the offense may be punished with a suspension of the person's driver’s license for a period anywhere between 6 months to 5 years and/or a forfeiture of the professional license.

The penalty for aggravated drug trafficking in Ohio includes the offense of trafficking in Ohio for drugs like marijuana, hashish heroin, cocaine, opium amongst others that are included in Schedule I and II.

In addition to this, a person who is charged with drug trafficking faces the possibility of mandatory fines, suspension or forfeiture of professional license or driver’s license suspension.

About the Author

Adam G. Burke is a Columbus, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney. Mr. Burke is a strong advocate for the rights of men and women facing criminal charges. He enjoys writing about politics and legal topics including criminal law and criminal procedure.


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