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Drug Possession Factors and Outcomes

Feb. 28, 2020

The result of an arrest for possession of drugs in Ohio varies depending on a wide range of details.

These include factors such as the substance, how much the person possesses and whether there are mitigating or aggravating factors, including previous arrests or convictions.

Controlled Substances

Ohio bases drug conviction penalties on the Schedule of the controlled substance the person possesses. Schedules III, IV and V drugs result in a drug possession conviction, while Schedules I and II result in aggravated possession convictions.


The measure of many drugs is the bulk amount rather than the weight, and the penalties for the bulk amount of the controlled substances depends on what Schedule and type. For example, the bulk amount of Schedule I opiates is 10 grams or more, while the bulk amount of a Schedule II opiate is 20 grams or more.


If the person possesses less than the bulk amount of a controlled substance, the conviction may be a first-degree misdemeanor, which may have a penalty of as many as 180 days in jail and/or a fine as high as $1,000. Possessing at least the bulk amount of a controlled substance but no more than five times the bulk amount may result in a fourth-degree felony, with nine months or more in jail, as much as $5,000 in fines, or both.

Often, drug possession convictions also result in suspension or revocation of driving privileges.


The Franklin County Common Pleas Court has a drug court program that allows many people charged with drug crimes to enter into treatment for addiction rather than go to jail. To be eligible, a person must meet the following criteria:

  • Felony 4 or 5 offender

  • Nonviolent, nonsexual, non-weapons-related charges

  • No history of violence or drug trafficking

  • Motivation to successfully complete treatment

  • Chemical dependency diagnosis

The program lasts 18 months or fewer and combines court supervision, treatment, regular drug tests, restitution, community service, and other tasks and activities as the judge sees fit.