Close this drug loophole

Appeals court justices are supposed to interpret laws as they are written, not as someone claims legislators meant the statutes to be read. It is entirely possible, then, that the Ohio Supreme Court will find itself siding with a man who admits he bought cocaine.

If that happens, it will be because of one of those “technicalities” that so often seem to help criminals out of scrapes with the law. But if the court rules as it may have to, the Ohio General Assembly should waste no time in rectifying the situation.

It all goes back to a major undercover operation in northwestern Ohio during 2012. Among those arrested was Rafael Gonzales, of Fremont.

He was taken into custody after he bought what he thought was more than 100 grams of cocaine. Under state law, possession of more than 100 grams means longer prison terms. In Gonzales’ case, it resulted in an 11-year sentence.

But it turns out Gonzales had been swindled. The white powder he bought was not pure cocaine. It had been cut, or diluted, with some other substance, through a technique often used by pushers to maximize their profits.

Gonzales’ attorney has argued he should not have been sentenced under the 100-gram rule because he did not purchase that amount of pure cocaine.

No doubt legislators who approved the sentencing rule intended that anyone in possession of 100 grams or more of a substance they believed to be cocaine ought to go to prison for a long time. But that is not what the statute’s wording says.

High court justices may have no choice but to agree with Gonzales and order his prison term be cut short.

If so, legislators should act quickly to rewrite the statute – before more cocaine pushers get off the hook.