Ohio chief justice: Issue easing drug crime penalties ’hidden disaster’

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio’s top judge is calling a November ballot proposal a “hidden disaster.”

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor says in an op-ed released Tuesday that passage of Issue 1 could result in Ohio having some of the most lenient drug laws in the country, making the state a potential magnet for substance-abuse activity.

The constitutional amendment would reduce purchase, possession or use of a host of drugs, including fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and LSD, from felony to misdemeanor offenses, among other things. Jail time couldn’t be imposed until the third offense.

Justice O’Connor, a Republican and former prosecutor, predicts that Issue 1 would severely hamper the effective use of Ohio’s drug court programs to reduce drug abuse and addiction.

Supporters argue cost savings could support drug treatment and crime-victim compensation.

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