The Time for Drug Reform in Ohio is Now

2 Aug

DanielleBy Danielle Smith, MSW, MA, LSW

NASW Ohio Chapter Services Coordinator

The following information is from the Drug Policy Alliance. 

In the 1970s, Ohio decriminalized marijuana for personal use and became the most permissive state in the country. However, since then Ohio has taken no steps toward drug reform and in fact ranks 35th in the nation in treatment spending and has terrible racial disparities in its prison system. There were more African-Americans in prison in 2005 in Ohio than in Ohio colleges and universities (23,200 to 20,074).

In November of 2002, voters defeated an initiative, Issue One, that would have provided Proposition 36-style treatment instead of incarceration for first- and second-time drug offenders. Issue One would have saved Ohioans $20 million dollars per year and would have pulled Ohio from the basement of a backwards drug policy that saw a 211% increase in corrections spending from 1985 to 2000.

Slight progress has been made in providing treatment to drug offenders with the state’s Second Chance to Change 90-day treatment program for prisoners, but Ohio is still in desperate need of drug reform to address drug abuse as a public health rather than criminal justice issue, mitigate the racial disparities in prison, and close the state’s budget gap.

With the budget gap looming at $8 billion now is the time to address our state’s failed drug policies. For more information visit


One Response to “The Time for Drug Reform in Ohio is Now”

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