In Ohio, just as it’s illegal to possess controlled substances, so too is it unlawful to have any object that would facilitate the consumption or injection of drugs into the body. The State has a couple of statutes that prohibit such conduct, one such being O.R.C. 2925.12 – possessing drug abuse instruments.
The law pertains to any instrument, article, or thing used to administer a dangerous drug (except marijuana), specifically a hypodermic needle or syringe. For a person to be charged with the offense, they must have used the object to administer the drug or to prepare the substance for injection.
What Are the Punishments for Possessing Drug Abuse Instruments?
The conviction penalties for possessing drug abuse instruments are steep. They include fines, jail time, and the loss of driving privileges. Depending on the situation, the defendant may also lose their professional license.
Generally, the crime is a second-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750. However, if the defendant has been previously convicted of a drug abuse offense, possessing drug abuse instruments is a first-degree misdemeanor.
Drug abuse offenses include:
- Theft of drugs
- Corrupting another with drugs
- Trafficking drugs
- Illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for manufacture of drugs
- Funding of drug trafficking
- Illegal administration or distribution of anabolic steroids
- Possession of controlled substances
- Permitting drug abuse
- Deception to obtain drugs
- Illegal processing of drug documents
- Tampering with drugs
- Abusing harmful intoxicants
- Trafficking in harmful intoxicants
- Illegal dispensing of drug samples
- Counterfeit controlled substances offenses
The conviction penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include a jail term of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Whether this is a person’s first or subsequent offense, the court will also impose a driver’s license suspension for up to 5 years. Also, if the defendant holds a professional license, the court will send notice of the conviction to the regulatory agency or licensing board. If the board determines that the offense violates the rules of professional conduct, the individual’s license may be suspended or revoked.
How Are Drug Abuse Instruments Different from Drug Paraphernalia?
As mentioned earlier, Ohio has a couple of laws prohibiting the possession of objects used to administer drugs. Aside from possessing drug instruments, there is also the illegal use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
The two statutes differ in that drug abuse instruments is concerned only with hypodermic needles and syringes. And although the drug paraphernalia law also includes these objects, it is broader in scope, and needles and syringes are considered paraphernalia when they’re used for controlled substances, not just dangerous drugs.
Additionally, possessing drug abuse instruments is considered a more serious crime than possessing drug paraphernalia. The former offense is charged as a second-degree misdemeanor, whereas the latter is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.