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For Cocaine Charges, How Should Total Weight Be Calculated?

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The Ohio Supreme Court was asked to weigh in on an Ohio law that imposes steepened penalties for individuals convicted of cocaine possession of more than 100 grams – but what does the state look at when determining weight?

In Ohio, penalties for cocaine possession can be steeper if there are 100 grams (3.6 ounces) or more of it. Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court was asked to weigh in on this law, specifically, the role of drug purity when calculating total weight of the substance. The question was prompted by the case of a man arrested for cocaine possession back in 2012. He is facing between one year and 11 years in prison, depending on the Ohio Supreme Court’s answer.

In 2012, an Ohio man was arrested after buying two, one-kilogram bricks of cocaine from an undercover police officer. One of the bricks weighed 139 grams – more than the 100-gram threshold for steeper penalties. The man was convicted, and then the case was appealed to the 6th District Court.

Upon appeal, the 6th District Court determined that while the man was still guilty of purchasing cocaine, he did not deserve the first-degree felony sentence because one of the bricks contained fake cocaine and the other contained a tracking device. His attorney argued that, unless the prosecution could prove that the defendant-appellant actually possessed 100 grams of pure cocaine, he did not deserve the first-degree felony sentence of 11 years in prison.

In Ohio, cocaine is defined as the drug OR any mixture containing the drug. It is common for cocaine to be mixed with other substances, like baking powder. The prosecutor argued that only Georgia and New York measure cocaine possession in terms of pure drug only. The Ohio Supreme Court did not issue an immediate ruling. For more information, read about the case in The Toledo Blade.