Illegal Cultivation of Marijuana

Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with illegal cultivation of marijuana in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced Columbus and Delaware, Ohio criminal defense attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your illegal cultivation of marijuana case.

Illegal Cultivation of Marijuana Under Ohio Law

Illegal cultivation of marijuana is governed by ORC 2925.04 and is defined as knowingly cultivating, preparing, producing, growing, or manufacturing marijuana or substances containing marijuana. The “knowingly” element means that the person must have the specific intent to commit the crime. The offender must knowingly or reasonably believe that the substance being cultivated is marijuana.

Ohio, unlike many other states, has not legalized marijuana in any amount. This does not mean simply possessing marijuana, but also includes growing it. Illegal cultivation includes growing marijuana indoors or outdoors, in a grow house or in your basement. Being charged with illegal cultivation of marijuana can result in serious penalties, including prison, fines, suspended driver’s license, suspension or revocation of certain professional licenses, and difficulty obtaining government assistance.

Penalties for Illegal Cultivation in Ohio

The penalties for illegal cultivation of marijuana in Ohio vary based on the amount being cultivated, whether it was in the vicinity of a school or juveniles, and the offender’s prior criminal history. The level of offense charged can be anywhere from a minor misdemeanor to a 1st degree felony. Below is a breakdown of possible offense levels.

Minor Misdemeanor

Illegal cultivation of marijuana will be charged as a minor misdemeanor if the amount of marijuana is less than 100 grams and is not grown in the vicinity of a school or juvenile. This offense carries a maximum $150 fine, but includes no jail time. However, your license may be suspended and a notice of conviction will be sent to the licensing or regulatory board if you have a professional license.

4th Degree Misdemeanor

If the offender has 100 – 199 grams being cultivated, a 4th degree misdemeanor will be charged. This offense will also be charged if the amount is less than 100 grams, but is grown near a school or juvenile. This charge carries a maximum 30 days in jail and a $250 fine. As with a minor misdemeanor, in addition to these criminal penalties, a license suspension and notice of conviction will be sent.

If the offense is committed near a school or juvenile, the charge will be upgraded to a 3rd degree misdemeanor. This charge carries a maximum 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

5th Degree Felony

If the offender cultivates 200 – 999 grams of marijuana, the offense will be a 5th degree felony. This carries a maximum 6 -12 months in jail and a $2500 fine, in addition to a suspended driver’s license and notice of conviction to the licensing or regulatory board if you are professionally licensed.

If the offense was committed near a school or juvenile, the charge will be upgraded to a 3rd degree felony. This offense level carries a maximum 6 – 18 months in jail and a $5000 fine, in addition to the other penalties outlined above.

Pursuant to ORC 2929.13(B), your attorney can argue that you should receive a community control sanction in lieu of a prison sentence. All of the following must apply for this to be available:

  1. The offender has not been convicted of a felony offense;
  2. The most serious charge against the offender is a 4th or 5th degree felony;
  3. A program administering community control sanctions must be available; and
  4. The offender has not been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of violence in the prior 2 years.

3rd Degree Felony

If the amount cultivated is 1000 – 19,999 grams, a 3rd degree felony will be charged. This charge carries a maximum 9 months – 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to a suspended driver’s license and notice of conviction to the licensing or regulatory board if you are professionally licensed.

If the amount cultivated is 1000 – 4999 grams, there is no presumption of prison. However, if the amount is 5000 – 19,999 grams, there is a presumption that the offender will serve a prison sentence.

If the offense was committed near a school or juvenile, the charge will be upgraded to a 2nd degree felony. This offense level carries a maximum 2 – 8 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, in addition to the other penalties outlined above.

Pursuant to ORC 2929.13(C), your attorney can argue that sentencing you to prison does not comply with the purposes and and principles of sentencing under ORC 2929.11 and 2929.12.

2nd Degree Felony

The offense will be charged as a 2nd degree felony if the amount of marijuana being cultivated is 20,000 or more grams. This charge carries a mandatory 2 – 8 years in prison and a $15,000 fine, in addition to a suspended driver’s license and notice of conviction to the licensing or regulatory board if you are professionally licensed.

If the offense was committed near a school or juvenile, the charge will be upgraded to a 1st degree felony. This offense level carries a mandatory 8 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, in addition to the other penalties outlined above.

The following table summarizes the information above.

Illegal Cultivation of Marijuana

Amount in GramsChargeMaximum Jail/Prison TimePresumption/Mandatory PrisonMaximum Fine
Less than 100Minor MisdemeanorNoneNone$150
100 - 1994th Degree Misdemeanor30 daysNone$250
200 - 9995th Degree Felony6 - 12 monthsNone$2500
1000 - 49993rd Degree Felony9 months - 3 yearsNone$10,000
5000 - 19,9993rd Degree Felony9 months - 3 yearsPresumption$10,000
20,000 or more2nd Degree Felony2 - 8 yearsMandatory$15,000
Secondary Consequences of Illegal Cultivation of Marijuana Conviction

In addition to criminal penalties, a drug conviction can result in significant secondary consequences, such as difficulty finding employment, student loans and other government assistance, and jeopardizing any pending or future child custody actions.

Moreover, any person who is convicted of a drug possession charge may have their driver’s license suspended for 6 months to 5 years, have any professional licenses (e.g., lawyers, nurses, teachers, etc.) suspended or revoked, and a denial of the right to vote or own a firearm for felony convictions.

Probable Cause Requirement

For grow operations that are conducted indoors, law enforcement will be required to demonstrate probable cause before securing a warrant. Probable cause can often be gained by the police detecting the odor of marijuana and electric bill monitoring (i.e., high kilowatt usage). The combination of the two is generally enough to secure a warrant to search the premises.

In addition to odors and electric bills, if the police search your trash after it has been left outside, probable cause may be found and a warrant will be issued. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy once you put your trash outside.

Another method of obtaining probable cause is through the statements of a neighbor who suspects that a grow is being conducted in your house or through an accomplice who seeks to reduce his or her sentence.

Defense to Illegal Cultivation of Marijuana

The primary defense would be unlawful search and seizure. Law enforcement do not always comply with search and seizure laws, creating an opportunity for you to assert that the police violated your constitutional rights. An unlawful search and seizure could result from a lack of probable cause or search warrant, and from a search warrant that was not properly executed.

In the event that an unlawful search and seizure took place, your attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence. If granted, the evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights will be excluded from the prosecution’s case and the charges may be dismissed.

Columbus and Delaware, Ohio Marijuana Attorney

If you have been charged with illegal cultivation of marijuana in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC to discuss your case. An experienced and knowledgeable Columbus and Delaware, Ohio marijuana attorney can help you fight the charge and achieve the best possible outcome. Call Attorney David Johnson at (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation to discuss your illegal cultivation of marijuana case.