Cuyahoga County Drug And Mental Health Board Opposes Issue 1

[Nick Castele / ideastream]

The Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board is opposing Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment to reduce penalties for drug possession.

The board’s decision follows the lead of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities.

The ballot proposal, which has backing from the ACLU of Ohio, would reduce lower-level felonies for drug posession to misdemeanors. It would also allow prisoners to reduce their sentences by participating in rehabiltation, work or educational programs. People incarcerated for murder, rape or child molestation would not be eligible. 

Director Scott Osiecki said the board believes treatment is better for non-violent drug users than incarceration, but he said the issue should be handled in the legislature. 

“We don’t believe that it should be—the issue should be—addressed in a constitutional amendment,” Osiecki said. “What we are doing is we’re asking the Ohio General Assembly to bring together a bipartisan coalition of concerned Ohioans to actually take action to address the issues.”

Also this week, the Service Employees International Union District 1199 released a pro-Issue 1 radio ad featuring Ohio-born recording artist John Legend.

“Crowded prisons waste taxpayer dollars and take money from community investments,” Legend says in the spot, adding later, “you have a chance to take action for our communities, instead of waiting for politicians.”

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