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Jun 14, 5:35 PM EDT

Appeals court hears arguments over Ohio's execution method

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Appeals court hears arguments over Ohio's execution method

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CINCINNATI (AP) -- A federal appeals court has heard arguments over the constitutionality of Ohio's new three-drug execution method.

At issue before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Wednesday was the effectiveness of the first drug used in the method, a sedative called midazolam (mih-DAY'-zoh-lam).

Midazolam has been used in problematic executions in Arizona, Arkansas and Ohio in which inmates didn't appear fully sedated before the second and third drugs took effect.

Lawyers opposing midazolam say it creates an unconstitutional risk of harm to inmates.

The state says the massive dose of 500 milligrams of midazolam is enough to render inmates unconscious. They also say the U.S. Supreme Court previously upheld the drug's use in Oklahoma in a 2015 case.

The appeals court is expected to rule soon, likely within weeks.

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