Ohio Initiative to Defelonize Drug Possession Placed on November Ballot

An initiative to reduce penalties for non-violent drug crimes while allowing many current inmates to seek shorter sentences will be voted on this November in Ohio.

Issue 1 would reduce the penalty for purchasing, possessing or using a variety of illegal substances, including cocaine, heroin and LSD, from a felony to a misdemeanor offenses. In addition, jail time couldn’t be imposed until an individual’s third offense.

The constitutional amendment also allows reductions of up to 25% on the sentences of current inmates who participate in rehabilitation, work or educational programming. Only murderers, rapists and child molesters are ineligible.

Supporters of the initiative say that cost savings would leave more money for drug treatment and crime victim compensation, and say that a felony charge is too harsh for someone possession an illegal substance for personal use.

Laws surrounding the distribution of drugs would remain unaltered.

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