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Ohio Drug Distribution Laws

Like other states and the federal government, Ohio prohibits the sale or delivery of illegal drugs. The individuals that engage in these activities are usually charged with violating Ohio's drug distribution laws, or trafficking laws, which are more serious than drug possession charges. A classic example of drug distribution occurs when a person attempts to sell illegal drugs to an undercover police officer. Distribution laws cover the crimes where a person sells, delivers, or provides controlled substances unlawfully.

Classification of Drugs in Ohio

Ohio uses "schedules" to categorize the type of drugs involved. The classification is based on how dangerous the drug is; the dangerousness is determined by the drug's potential for abuse based on how addictive the drug is. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous because of the great potential for addiction; some examples include: heroin, marijuana, LSD, ecstasy. Schedule II examples are: cocaine, methamphetamine, Ritalin, and OxyContin. Anabolic steroids and testosterone are included in Schedule III. Schedule IV drugs consist of Xanax and valium amongst others. Schedule V drugs include the following: Lyrica, Motofen, and Lomotil.

Drug Trafficking in Ohio

Ohio's drug trafficking statute uses the schedules to make distinctions in the trafficking for sentencing purposes. Trafficking in drugs involves the selling or offering to sell a controlled substance for shipment, delivery, transport, or distribution. The trafficking offense is elevated to aggravated trafficking if it involves Schedule I or II drugs.

If you're charged with trafficking, you can be prosecuted under Ohio law, federal law, or both. Additionally, if the charges for trafficking are more severe, the matter may involve the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), depending on the circumstances and the scope of the drug distribution.

Generally, the severity of the charges depends on:

  • The type of drugs and the quantity involved,
  • The location where the drugs were distributed,
  • Whether children were targeted.

Ohio Drug Distributions Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of laws related to Ohio's drug distribution laws, including links to important code sections.


  • Trafficking: O.R.C. Section 2925.03
  • Aggravated drug trafficking: O.R.C. Section 2925.03(C) (1) if the substance is included in schedule I or II. This is a felony of the fourth degree unless the aggravated was committed in the vicinity of a school or near a juvenile, then it is a felony in the third degree.
  • Controlled substances schedules: O.R.C. Section 3719.41


The penalties depend on the level of the offense, but can include the following:

  • Mandatory prison terms or jail time
  • Fines
  • Court costs
  • Forfeiture of property
  • Your driver's license can be suspended
  • Your professional license can be suspended or revoked

Possible Defenses

  • Entrapment
  • Fourth Amendment violations

Related Offenses

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Ohio Drug Distribution Laws: Related Resources

Talk to an Ohio Attorney about Your Drug Case

If you've been accused of violating Ohio's drug distribution laws, then you may be confused and overwhelmed by the complexity of the laws. Because of the severity of the charges, you should talk to an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of the law and can help you analyze your options.

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