ZANESVILLE, Ohio – Local law enforcement and officials are speaking out against State Issue 1.
They, along with Muskingum County officials, spoke to the County Commissioners about what would happen if State Issue 1 was passed. Prosecuting Attorney Michael Haddox said the amendment would decriminalize the possession of drugs and make it more difficult to deal with the growing drug problem in Ohio. He said under the new law, possession would be treated as a misdemeanor, so no jail time would be served for first or second offenders and the court would not be able to enforce rehabilitation orders.
“No one is supporting this in law enforcement, not one, and that says just how dangerous this law is and how bad for Ohio and Muskingum County it is,” said Haddox.
Haddox said the amendment has been advertised as a way to help with overcrowding in jails and to save money but says it’s unlikely to happen. He said if the amendment passes, about 10,000 people would be released from jail, but jails are so overcrowded, they would still be above full capacity. Haddox also said that without the threat of jail time, it will be harder to get offenders into rehabilitation programs.
“I don’t think it’s going to save money,” said Haddox. “They say that the money savings is then going to go into drug treatment, but I’m telling you, if you don’t have something to hold over these folks heads, if you don’t have that hammer, they’re not going to go to drug treatment.”
Haddox said overall the amendment would make it harder to fight the drug issues in Ohio by taking away consequences of carrying drugs. And he said that while drug quantities do need to be under a certain amount to be considered a misdemeanor, those amounts could still be life-threatening. The amendment will be a part of the ballot for the November 6th election.