On July 30, 2019, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed SB 57 into law, legalizing hemp and hemp-derived CBD in the state. The definition of marijuana now excludes hemp, according to the amount of THC—the psychoactive component of the plant that produces a high.
When the THC level is .3 percent or less, it is considered hemp. If the THC level is more than .3 percent, it is cannabis, which is illegal in Ohio.
However, prosecutors throughout the state have stopped pursuing misdemeanor marijuana possession cases after SB 57 became law. The main reason is that drug testing devices Ohio crime labs use can only detect the presence of THC, rather than the quantity—which can make it difficult for prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance in question is hemp or cannabis.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has informed every state prosecutor that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is currently in the process of developing new methods to determine the level of THC, which could take several months. In the meantime, local law enforcement and courts should avoid pursuing marijuana-related offenses unless they involve significant amounts of the plant.
In Columbus, not only has the City Attorney stopped prosecuting marijuana possession charges, but also passed a law to reduce penalties for possessing cannabis on July 22. Offenders who possess up to 100 grams of pot would be given a $10 fine, while possession of between 100 and 200 grams would be punishable by a $25 fine.
Keep in mind, state laws say that possession of less than 100 grams carries a maximum $150 fine.
If you have been charged with marijuana possession in Cleveland, contact Patituce & Associates today at (440) 471-7784 and request a free case review.