COLUMBUS, Ohio – The County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) board of directors voted to oppose Ohio Issue 1, which would change the state’s constitution to classify any drug possession offense as a misdemeanor and generally prohibit jail time as a sanction.
Members expressed serious concerns about the amendment leading to an unfunded mandate on local communities. The proponents’ speculation about savings upon the release of drug offenders is not the same as dedicated funding to pay for the treatment services mandated by Issue 1. Additionally, the amendment calls for retroactive application, requiring courts to re-sentence and/or release any individual convicted of an offense of possessing, obtaining or using drugs with no funding identified to pay for these costs.
“This proposal does not belong in the Ohio Constitution,” CCAO President Daniel Troy said. “Decisions around whether jail time is an appropriate tool to incentivize people to seek treatment, whether or not mandatory sentencing reductions make sense and for what offenses, and how to fund treatment are decisions that should be able to be easily amended to match evidence-based practices. Legislating by utilization of the State Constitution eliminates that flexibility.”
Given the multi-faceted and devastating impacts of addiction, CCAO recommends that the state establish and fund a special line item that would help counties pay for a portion of the increased costs related to the explosive growth of the opiate epidemic crisis.
The County Commissioners Association of Ohio advances effective county government for Ohio through legislative advocacy, education and training, technical assistance and research, quality enterprise service programs, and greater citizen awareness and understanding of county government.