Bills would reduce punishment for low-level drug possession

Posted at 12:19 PM, Jul 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-07 12:19:10-04

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Bills working their way through the Ohio Legislature would reduce punishment for some drug crimes while favoring treatment over automatic prosecution.

A proposal passed by the House last month expands the use of a program allowing judges to order treatment instead of prosecution for defendants facing low-level drug charges.

The legislation would also make it easier for Ohioans to seal records involving low-level nonviolent and non-sexual offenses to help them move forward with their lives.

A Senate bill would reduce low-level drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and also allow treatment instead of prosecution.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor supports treatment over prosecution in appropriate cases. She tells the Akron Beacon Journal that Ohio can't arrest and incarcerate its way out of the addiction epidemic.