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A Guide to Drug-Related State Ballot Initiatives






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State Issue 1
Ohio Drug Treatment Initiative


Campaign for New Drug Policies



Ohioans Against Unsafe Drug Laws



Ohio Issue I is similar to California’s Proposition 36, the Drug Treatment and Crime Prevention Act of 2000. Both initiatives are sponsored by the same organization – Campaign for New Drug Policies – and both are funded by the same trio – George Soros, Peter Lewis, and John Sperling. Preliminary reports of how California’s law is working find that from 30 to 50 percent of defendants either fail to show up for treatment or drop out of treatment prematurely. The average California participant has been arrested 14 times previously and convicted of 3 felonies and 5 misdemeanors.



Amends the Ohio State Constitution and is the first constitutional amendment with dollar amounts specified.

Does not cover alcohol, the drug used by 70 to 80 percent of Ohioans arrested for crimes.

Gives priority for treatment to lawbreakers over those who don’t break the law. It does not cover adolescents.

Requires a high standard of proof before a person can be given a sanction or removed for disrupting a treatment program or for using drugs during treatment.

Specifies confidentiality requirements that preclude a judge from knowing about mental health problems that must be addressed in treatment.

Makes no requirement for abstinence-based treatment.

Establishes a “Mandatory Maximum” sentence: judges may sentence offenders for a maximum of 90 days after their third conviction.

Permits drug offenders to request treatment, which lasts 12 to 18 months, or opt for a maximum jail sentence of 90 days.

Calls for state to spend $38 million a year with no realistic source of funds available.



Campaign for New Drug Policies
Cash as of September 3, 2002

George Soros $271,276.00
John Sperling $271,276.00
Richard M. Wolfe $200,000.00
Peter B. Lewis $271,276.00
Total Cash $1,013,828.00

Ohioans Against Unsafe Drug Laws
First Report Due After Election

What Proponents Say

More from proponents

If passed, this initiative will cost Ohio taxpayers $247 million over the next 9 years. Proponents say Ohioans would save a net of $21 million because treatment is less expensive than jail.

Proponents say they need to amend the constitution because the legislature will not pass a similar bill. They claim $38 million a year is “pretty puny compared to what other constitutional amendments have done.”

“Ohio’s drug abuse problem is also a serious, unmet social need,” said Ed Orlett, director of the Ohio Campaign for New Drug Policies.

Asked about opponents claims’ Orlett said “They’re just trying to scare people. I guess that’s what you do in war when you’re losing.”

August 14 (when polls show some 60 percent of Ohioans support Issue 1), campaign spokesman Dave Fratello calls ballot language approved by the Ohio Ballot Board “accurate, fair, and brief.”

Dayton Daily News, August 7, 2002.

October 4 (when polls show only 30 percent of Ohioans support Issue I), Fratello called the language damaging and said “the Ballot Board was stacked against us.”

“What they did on the ballot language was scandalous,” added Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Nadelmann serves as the link between Soros, Lewis, and Sperling and campaign managers.

Cincinnati Enquirer, October 3, 2002

“I guess we were naive about the ability of the governor and his allies to corrupt the process,” concluded Bill Zimmerman, head of the parent company, the California-based Campaign for New Drug Policies.

Columbus Dispatch, October 4, 2002


 What Opponents Say  

More from opponents

This amendment is “a systematic and dangerous attempt to dismantle the checks and balances that are embedded in our criminal justice system,” said state Attorney General Betty Montgomery. The state would be required to make the spending on drug programs a priority above education, prisons, parks, and other areas not specifically covered in the constitution, she added. The proposed amendment, at 6,500 words, is longer than the U.S. Constitution.

Dayton Daily News, August 7, 2002.

“Let us make this very clear. Very few, very few first-time possessors of drugs are sentences to prison unless they are also guilty of a prior felony . . . or violate a community sanction,” said Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer.

“The Ohio Judicial Conference issued a survey of 100 judges who said they offer treatment to virtually all low-level drug offenders.

“Judge Steve Williams, who created the first juvenile drug court in Fairfield County in 1997, called it [Issue 1] ‘Bad policy. . .I believe in effective treatment, accountable treatment.’”

“It would reverse all the gains Ohio has made. . .I have not had one judge tell me they were for the initiative,” added Judge Philip H. Rose, Vinton County Juvenile and Probate Court.

Columbus Dispatch, September 13, 2002


On ballot.


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