Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jul 2002
Source: Beacon Journal, The (OH)
Copyright: 2002 The Beacon Journal Publishing Co.
Author: Edward J. Orlett


Your July 16 editorial headlined "Only carrots" summed up opponents' 
arguments against the Ohio Drug Treatment Initiative. Readers will want to 
consider information in support of this issue, also.

The initiative would provide treatment instead of prosecution or jail time 
for nonviolent, first-or second-time drug possession offenders only. Drug 
traffickers, violent offenders and drivers under the influence would not be 

Treatment is not required for those who reject it or screw up. They would 
go to jail just the same as they do now. Judges are given that authority in 
Subdivision (G)(3), contrary to what opponents claim.

A copy of the initiative may be found at for 

Drug treatment instead of prison will save money. Prison costs six times 
the cost of treatment in Ohio. Thousands of young Ohioans get a "scarlet F" 
(felony) record for drug possession. This disqualifies them for student 
loans and many job opportunities.

This initiative has nothing to do with legalizing or decriminalizing 
marijuana or any other drug. The legislature decriminalized marijuana in 
this state 25 years ago.

What is proposed is the logical extension and expansion of the present drug 
court system. Only half, or 24, of Ohio's drug courts process adult felony 
offenders. They only serve about 1,500 of the 6,000 Ohioans charged with 
felony drug possession each year.

The initiative is a constitutional amendment, as any Ohio ballot issue that 
appropriates money must be. Ohio voters have passed 18 previous 
appropriation amendments to address other social problems. Why not an 
amendment for this important social need?

Legislation similar to this initiative has not received a hearing in Ohio. 
A ballot issue -- with funding -- is the only way to address Ohio's drug 

Ohio voters should pass this good amendment.

Edward J. Orlett


Ohio Campaign For New Drug Policies

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