Regarding an issue in Ohio

I’m going to vote yes on issue one.

I pitched in a few times to help gather signatures, but other than that, I wasn’t deeply involved in the campaign. From what I’ve read, it seems like a sensible step towards more reasonable treatment of illegal drugs in my home state. It will not solve the problems of drug abuse and incarceration. But it sure seems like a gesture in a better direction.



A short anecdote -

I smoked weed a few times in high school. If I were caught, then current Ohio drug laws would have been applied to me.

This morning, I ate a big ol bowl of yogurt, honey, and almonds. My little kitchen scale pegged that at just below 200 grams. If I had about 200 grams of marijuana on me, then I’d be charged with a 5th degree felony, punishable by up to 12 months in prison. I’d also be labeled a felon for the rest of my life. Every potential employer would first know me as a “felon” instead of “Sam.”

Those are the laws on the books as they stand. You may think that these are the consequences for breaking the law. And that’s your prerogative.

But this is about more than weed.

More topically, Issue One applies to all of the opioid abuse that we’re hearing about on the news every day. For the second year in a row, Montgomery County had the state’s highest rate of accidental overdose deaths. That’s 4,854 accidental drug overdose deaths, 800 more than 2016.

A recent Pew Study suggested no significant relationship between drug offender imprisonment rates and rates of illicit use, overdose deaths, and arrests. So, prison time does not have an affect on drug use.

Many people are dying because they are addicted to opioids. And putting people in prison and labeling them felons is not affecting the behavior of addicts. But, the laws as they are now make that happen.

About 50,000 people are incarcerated in Ohio’s prisons. That costs $26,400 each year. Policy Matters estimates that the prison population would be reduced by more than 10,000 people if passed. Altogether, those reductions could save about $136 million per year. This could be a high estimate, but even a quarter of that cost savings is nothing to sneeze at.

I’d be happy to hear from anyone who disagrees or agrees for different reasons. Obviously I’m just some guy and not an expert in anything except eating yogurt for breakfast. But this just seems like a sensible step in a better and more humane direction.