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Gov. John Kasich says he won’t vote for Issue 1

September 20, 2018

Gov. John Kasich says he won’t vote for Issue 1

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. John Kasich said Thursday he will vote against Issue 1, the proposed constitutional amendment that would lessen drug crime penalties if people participate in treatment.

But Kasich’s feelings about Issue 1 are more nuanced than other Republicans who oppose it.

The Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment would: 

Reclassify drug possession as misdemeanor crimes, except for drug possession or trafficking offenses categorized as first-, second- or third-degree felonies; Prohibit jail sentences for drug possession until an individual’s third offense within 24 months; Allow inmates convicted of crimes to reduce their sentences up to 25 percent by completing rehabilitative, work or educational programming; Send cost savings from reduced prison expenses to drug treatment programs and crime victim services. 

“I’m for a lot of it,” said Kasich, who is wrapping up his last months as Ohio’s governor. “I wish the legislature would have moved to say that there are a number of these folks who ought to be put locally in rehab and treated.”

However, Kasich said other provisions go too far, such as reducing criminal charges for the purchase, possession or use of fentanyl in some cases from a felony to a misdemeanor. Kasich called fentanyl poison.

He thinks Issue 1 should be in state law instead of the Ohio Constitution. He suspects the proposal will fail at the polls Nov. 6, but there’s still an opportunity to effect change, he said. 

“Those people who are concerned about this: Don’t go away,” he said. “Just work with us and let’s try to get this done.”

Other Republicans who oppose Issue 1 have adopted more negative attitudes toward it. Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor called it a “hidden disaster.” Attorney General and GOP governor hopeful Mike DeWine has said it will make Ohio’s drug laws among the most lenient in the country.

Supporters, such as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, said the measure reflects more modern ideas about addiction and that locking offenders up doesn’t help them or society.

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