CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -When voters go to the polls on Nov. 6 the only issue that everyone in the state will vote on is Issue 1 which is titled, “To Reduce Penalties for Crimes of Obtaining, Possessing, and Using Illegal Drugs.”
The major change would be anyone convicted of, “obtaining, possessing, or using any drug such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and other controlled substances cannot be classified as a felony, but only a misdemeanor.”
Making the charge a misdemeanor, instead of a felony, would greatly reduce the amount of time a judge could sentence someone to prison, if at all.
In fact, if passed a person can not be sentenced to prison for the above drug offenses unless it’s their third conviction in a 24 month span.
If passed, anyone in prison right now, convicted the above drug charges, can go to the court and have their felony convictions turned into misdemeanors and would not have to finish their sentence.
Lastly, the constitutional amendment focuses on treatment.
Saying any money saved by the state for keeping these drug convictions out of prison has to be spent on treatment and, “Require a graduated series of responses, such as community service, drug treatment, or jail time, for minor, non-criminal probation violations.”
Those who want Issue 1 to pass are hoping that treatment, not prison, is a better answer.
“Ohio spends more than $1.8 billion per year on a broken prison system where too many people who pose little public safety risk are incarcerated while treatment and prevention programs suffer,” according to the “Vote Yes on State Issue 1” argument posted with the ballot language on the Secretary of State’s website. “Issue 1 will save tens of millions of dollars annually in prison spending and direct the savings to addiction treatment and victims of crime.”
Those on the other side of the issue say this sets to low of a bar for drug offenders.
“The message to children is that these drugs are not dangerous," the “Vote No on issue 1” said in its response. “The message to drug traffickers is that doing business in Ohio is low risk. Violent offenders cannot be sent to prison for probation violations. They will be free to disregard judges’ orders with little consequence.”