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Possession of Precursor Chemicals

In recent years, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers have attempted to crack down the production of methamphetamine by restricting the sale of ingredients that can be used to make meth. As part of that effort, many states have agreed to limit the sale of over-the-counter medications that include ephedrine and pseudoephedrine as ingredients. Ohio is among those states, and makes it a crime under Ohio Rev. Code 2925.55 to buy, receive, or otherwise acquire more than a certain amount of products that contain pseudoephedrine.

When you buy a product containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in Ohio, your purchase is tracked through a multi-state database called the National Precursor Log Exchange. Purchases are updated in real time, and when you attempt to make a purchase the database is checked for your purchase history to ensure you haven’t bought more than the allowed quantity of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine by going from pharmacy to pharmacy. The database logs your name, address, product type, quantity, and date and time of your ephedrine and pseudoephedrine purchases. When you’ve reached the limit, the database system sets an alert that notifies retailers not to sell you any more of the product.

When Purchasing Precursors is a Crime

Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are decongestant drugs that are commonly used in medicines to treat cold, allergy, and sinus symptoms. Products that contain pseudoephedrine include such common over-the-counter medications as Sudafed, Robitussin, Dayquil, Benadryl, Tylenol Sinus, Zyrtec, Advil Cold and Sinus, Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Aleve-D Sinus and Cold, and many other medications that treat coughs, nasal congestion, and other symptoms of allergies or a cold.

Ohio Rev. Code 2925.55 makes it a crime to knowingly buy, receive, or otherwise acquire more than 3.6 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products in a single day and no more than 9 grams in 30 consecutive days, unless you have a valid prescription that is lawfully dispensed. The restrictions apply to the actual weight of the ephedrine or the pseudoephedrine, not the overall weight of the product and all of its ingredients.

The statute breaks down four different crimes related to purchase of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine:

  • Unlawful Purchase — Basically, any adult who obtains more than 3.6 grams in a day or 9 grams in 30 days has committed a crime in Ohio unless the person works for a retailer or distributor of the drugs and receives the products as part of his or her job.
  • Underage Purchase — Minors under 18 can’t obtain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products at all unless they get it from a doctor or pharmacist, or their parents or someone authorized by their parents gets the product for them.
  • Using False Information to Purchase — It’s illegal for anyone under 18 to knowingly show false identification or give false information about their name, age, or other identifying information in order to obtain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.
  • Improper Purchase — Failing to show ID for your purchase or to provide your information so your purchase can be logged is a crime.

Penalties for Adults

When you’re convicted of illegally obtaining methamphetamine precursors, you face the possibility of months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Although the offense is a misdemeanor, it is a drug conviction on your permanent record. Additionally, drug offenses in Ohio carry a possible driver’s license suspension.

  • Unlawful Purchase – This is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
  • Underage Purchase – This is a delinquent act equivalent to an fourth-degree misdemeanor for adults over the age of 18. If you are charged and convicted as an adult, you face up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines. If you are charged and convicted as a juvenile, you face up to 90 days in juvenile to detention and up to $100 in fines.
  • Using False Information to Purchase – This is considered a delinquent act equivalent to a first-degree misdemeanor for adults over the age of 18. If you are charge and convicted as an adult, you face up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you are charged as a juvenile, you face up to 90 days in juvenile detention and up to $250 in fines.
  • Improper Purchase – This fourth-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines if convicted.

Other Consequences of Conviction

When you’re convicted of a drug offense, no matter how minor it seems, there will be effects on your life beyond the potential for jail time, fines, and loss of your driver’s license. Among the possible consequences you may face later on because of a conviction for purchasing precursor chemicals are:

  • Having trouble getting a job because of your criminal record
  • Being denied from renting an apartment
  • Being banned from getting federal financial aid for college or graduate school
  • Possible difficulty getting or keeping a professional license such as a law, medical, nursing, or pharmacist license
  • Possible effects on immigration status if you’re a non-citizen

Defenses

If you’ve been charged with purchasing methamphetamine precursor chemicals, there are some ways that an experienced Columbus drug attorney may be able to help. Under Ohio law, you may have a defense to the charge if you had a valid prescription from a doctor or other health provider authorized to write prescriptions, and the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products were lawfully dispensed by a pharmacist.

You also may have a defense if purchases were incorrectly logged and you didn’t actually buy the quantity alleged; if you weren’t the person who made the purchases, such as being the victim of an identity theft; or you didn’t knowingly acquire more than the allowed amount of the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine product.

Additionally, there often are flaws in police procedure that violate your constitutional rights. Those flaws may include problems with how the police make arrests, conduct searches or seizures, and gather or process evidence. When the police make a mistake, a Columbus drug attorney may be able to prevent evidence from being used against you in court, which can provide leverage to get your case dismissed or negotiate a lesser charge with a lighter penalty.

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Charged with a drug crime? Contact us.

A possession of precursor chemicals charge can be complex, especially if law enforcement believes that you are involved in a bigger drug operation. It’s essential that you have a seasoned Columbus drug attorney with state and federal experience on your side to protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Call us at or contact us by email at advice@columbuscriminalattorney.com for a free consultation. We are available 24/7.

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