Court to weigh cocaine cases, could alter sentencing in Ohio

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Prosecutors across Ohio are concerned that a ruling under review by Ohio's top court could delay and shorten sentences for suspects caught with cocaine and force costly changes upon law enforcement.

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether to uphold an appeals court decision calling into question how prosecutors have handled cocaine cases for years. It all comes eastdown to weight.

A state appeals court in Toledo ruled last year prosecutors should have determined how much pure cocaine a suspect arrested in a drug sting had with him or her instead of sentencing him based on the weight of the entire amount.

The appeals court ruled that Ohio's drug laws say that what matters is the weight of the cocaine only — not filler material such as baking soda that's often added by drug dealers to stretch out their supply and increase profits.

Prosecutors along with the state Attorney General's office argue that such a narrow interpretation creates a new distinction for cocaine that isn't applied to any other illegal drugs.

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