AP NEWS

Ohio drug treatment and rehabilitation amendment could be on November ballot

July 5, 2018

Ohio drug treatment and rehabilitation amendment could be on November ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Supporters of a proposal to reduce penalties for nonviolent drug crime offenders submitted hundreds of thousands of signatures on Wednesday to put the measure on the November ballot.

The “Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation” amendment is backed by a bipartisan coalition of community, law enforcement, faith and business leaders and groups. The Ohio Safe and Healthy Communities Campaign submitted 730,031 signatures Wednesday; 305,591 valid signatures of Ohio registered voters are needed to qualify for the ballot.

“These signatures are a testament to the number of Ohioans who want our state to invest in proven treatment for addiction instead of more spending on bloated prisons,” campaign spokeswoman Amanda Hoyt said in a statement.

County boards of election have until July 19 to verify signatures and report back to the secretary of state’s office, which has until July 24 to reject or certify the petition submission. If supporters are short, they will then have 10 days to collect the necessary signatures.

Ohio voters could see two proposed amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot. Supporters of an amendment to cap kidney dialysis costs also submitted signatures on Wednesday.

Under the drug treatment and rehabilitation amendment:

Possessing, obtaining or using a drug or drug paraphernalia would be a misdemeanor offense, with a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and $1,000 fine. First and second offenses within a two-year period could only be punished with probation.Convicted individuals could receive a half day credit against their sentence for each day or rehabilitative work or programming, up to 25 percent of the total sentence.Individuals on probation for a felony offense would not be sent to prison for non-violent violations of that probation.Individuals convicted of such crimes could petition a court to reclassify the offense as a misdemeanor, which could result in their release from prison.

The provisions would not apply to convictions for the sale, distribution or trafficking of drugs or to convictions for any drug offense that, based on volume or weight, are a first-, second- or third-degree felony.

Money saved from those affected by the amendment would be diverted to substance abuse programs (70 percent) and to crime victims services (30 percent.)

The campaign received a $500,000 grant in March from the Open Philanthropy Project, which gives money to criminal justice reform efforts.

Mobile readers, click here to read the proposed amendment.

AP RADIO
Update hourly