Monday, November 05, 2018

Ohio voters may follow Oklahoma's lead to reduce drug penalties, fund treatment

Following Oklahoma's lead, Ohio appears poised to reduce penalties for low-level drug possession (not dealing) at the ballot box. See coverage from Vox, which summarized the provisions in Prop 1 thusly:
  • Prevents classifying offenses for using, possessing, or obtaining illicit drugs, such as heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, or meth, as felonies, instead requiring they be treated as misdemeanors.
  • Prohibits jail or prison time for such offenses, unless it’s an individual’s third offense, or more, within two years.
  • Allows individuals who were previously convicted of such offenses to ask a court to reduce their conviction to a misdemeanor.
  • Aims to reduce the use of prison time for non-criminal probation violations.
  • Applies financial savings to addiction treatment programs and crime victim funds.
  • Allows people in prison, except those incarcerated for murder, rape, or child molestation, to seek sentence reductions up to 25 percent if they participate in rehabilitative programs, up from 8 percent under current rules.
The most recent polling shows the measure with a 48-31 advantage among Ohio voters, with 21 percent undecided. Unless every undecided voter breaks against it, when everyone else supported it by a 5-3 margin, that seems likely to pass. See coverage from the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the impressive list of supporters endorsing the measure.

With voters in red and swing states taking the lead, maybe this issue will become less scary for Texas legislators, who cannot rely on ballot initiatives to take tough decisions off their plates. The same felony-to-misdemeanor move makes loads sense for Texas, both from a fewer-prisons and a how-to-pay-for-treatment standpoint, and has for many years.

The political climate is changing in Texas regarding marijuana, and it won't take too many states' voters passing these sorts of measures before it changes on de-felonization of harder drugs. From both an economic perspective and a crime-prevention standpoint, it just makes too much darn sense.

UPDATE: Contrary to pre-election polling, this measure was defeated by a 63-37 margin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dealing is a revenue issue and the IRS has plenty of drug kingpin laws to seize property from those that make real money from illegal drug sales. User level drug quantities are violations that waste prison cells and provide jobs to those that couldn't pass the police exams but want to carry a badge and gun anyway. Texas should use laws to raise revenue like Singapore does instead of using jails as a network of "gated communities." Fancy cars, houses, boats, jewelry and land should be confiscated from big time dealers and sold at auction to, hopefully, ease taxes on the rest of us. If the Texas "get even" mentality must be employed, well then, a small fine for those that carry small quantities of pot and let's make sure the person's life doesn't get ruined by the event. Think back Texas-----what happened to the cowboys of the 1800's that smoked weed-------absolutely NOTHING.