Marijuana and Ohio Drug Courts

Ohio Senate Bill 2, adopted in 1996, created a presumption that courts would not sentence lesser felony offenders (those who commit felonies of the 4th and 5th degrees) to prison terms. Instead, the legislation encouraged the use of probation. That law, coupled with the “Intervention in Lieu of Conviction” statute, revised in 2000, has led to the rapid increase in the use of drug courts throughout the state of Ohio. Drug courts have been proven to reduce the rate of recidivism and cost to taxpayers compared with conventional sentencing procedures. Although there are minimum standards for Ohio drug courts, the specific operations of each Ohio drug treatment court vary by jurisdiction. If you would like to find out which Ohio counties have drug courts, see this map. To learn more about statewide use of drug courts, including procedures and overall effectiveness, review the Ohio Drug Court Evaluation document.

Ohio drug courts typically refer marijuana offenders to a program in order to treat their marijuana dependence rather than punish them for it. Marijuana rehabilitation centers and programs are not necessarily run by the state of Ohio but must adhere to state-imposed guidelines in order to qualify to host drug court participants. These centers may also be certified by the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS). From start to finish, participants typically complete drug court and its treatment programs in 18 months.

The benefits of participating in drug court in Ohio vary depending on the court and charge in question, but can include:

  • the dismissal of your marijuana charges
  • the reduction of your marijuana charge and/or penalties
  • lower recidivism rate as more participants stay drug-free
  • an Ohio marijuana treatment program instead of jail or prison time

Several factors can disqualify marijuana offenders from being able to participate in drug court in Ohio, including:

  • multiple prior felonies
  • numerous prior contempt charges
  • a previous arrest or conviction for drug trafficking or distribution
  • a previous violent crimes conviction within the last several years

Eligibility requirements for each drug court vary, so check with your local court or an Ohio criminal attorney to find out if you qualify.

Even when the penalties for marijuana possession seem light, going through a marijuana treatment program is much preferred to having a conviction on your record. Even 3rd and 4th degree misdemeanors go on your criminal record. Convictions may have to be reported on job, school, and licensing applications.

Follow this link for more information about Ohio Marijuana Laws and Ohio Medical Marijuana Laws