It is one thing to get caught with drugs on your person (weed in your pocket), but is it another to get caught with drugs (weed) in your system? More specifically, what if you do not have any drugs in your pocket, but you have ingested drugs and they are now in your system—can you still get charged with the possession of a controlled substance? The answer may surprise you.
What does the law say about it?
According to O.R.C. § 2925.11 and the possession of controlled substances, a person cannot "knowingly obtain, possess, or use a controlled substance or a controlled substance analog." This applies mostly to a person being caught in the act of using or possessing an illegal drug. However, the question still remains, what happens if law enforcement didn't see or catch you in the act of obtaining, possessing, or using the drug?
Appellate Courts Seem to Disagree
Unfortunately, as with many aspects of law, this question is open for debate in the Ohio courts of law. In the 1993 case State v. Lowe, the State sided with Lowe, reasoning that the fact that a person's urine contains cocaine metabolites alone, it does not constitute sufficient evidence that the person knowingly ingested the controlled substance. Under our hypothetical, this would mean that although you had trace amounts of drugs in your system, the State would not be able to prove that you "knowingly" ingested the controlled substance. Thus, without the "knowingly" element, there can be no violation of §2925.11.
However, State v. McGowan (1993), an unpublished case*, states just the opposite of Lowe. McGowan answers the same issue in Lowe, however, the court's reasoning is a bit different. The court found that although "the State did not find cocaine 'on' Appellant's person, it does not negate the fact that the State found high levels of cocaine metabolites 'in' his person. Even though McGowan is talking about a separate issue, the court essentially disagreed with Lowe's reasoning. Stated simply, in this case, the courts decided that if drugs are found in your system you can be found in violation of O.R.C. § 2925.11, the same as possessing or obtaining illegal drugs.
While unpublished cases do not possess the same weight as published cases do, they can still be used by the prosecution to argue their case against you. Without the help of an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, you could be charged with drug possession if you test positive for illegal drugs in your system.
If you were charged with a drug crime in Columbus, you don't have to fight these charges alone. Contact your local criminal defense attorney at The Meranda Law Firm LTD, where we will work in the most amicable way to resolve your case and give you the best legal representation for your money.