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OPINION

Ohio's Issue 1: Dangerous and Deadly

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

They are at it again! Liberal billionaires George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg and Nicholas Pritzker are attempting to force their left leaning ideology on Ohioans.

This time it’s by spending millions of dollars to weaken Ohio’s drug laws. Soros, Zuckerberg and Pritzker are the lead funders of state Issue 1, a dangerous state constitutional amendment that gives drug dealers a get out of jail free card.

They want you to believe their proposal is in line with marijuana reforms in other states. It’s not. They will say it’s in the interest of public safety, and will lead to better treatment options for addicted Ohioans. It won’t.

Issue 1 will enshrine weaker laws for possession of illegal drugs in Ohio’s Constitution. According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, this proposed amendment would allow an individual carrying enough fentanyl to kill 10,000 people to escape felony drug charges. Let me say this again: a drug dealer carrying 19 grams of the deadly drug fentanyl would serve no jail time if Issue 1 is put into the Ohio Constitution.

Drug abuse has had a disproportionate effect on Ohio families, and tragically, our state is ground zero in the fight against overdoses. Law enforcement officials are overwhelmed by the overdose crisis and we cannot afford, in terms of treasure and human suffering, more of these drugs on the streets. But that will be the legacy of Issue 1.

Don’t get me wrong. I am an advocate for criminal sentencing reform. I believe some of our criminal penalties disproportionately affect people struggling with addiction. Throwing these first time non-violent offenders into a state prison system filed with hardened criminals only creates more hardened criminals. This formula has played out in prison systems across the country. And, it has increased crime on our streets when these newly minted thugs are released into society. This can’t be fixed overnight.

As a society, we must tackle drug addiction and corresponding criminal sentencing head on. We need to bring together mental health professionals, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and others to develop comprehensive solutions.

This is a problem that can only be solved with thoughtful discussion informed by proven methods and sound research. Testing solutions within the guardrails of a correctable legislative process is the best approach.

Unfortunately, Issue 1 is a one-sided proposal that will weaken the tools available to our elected representatives, county prosecutors, and judges to make and enforce laws. It will eliminate important incentives to encourage drug treatment for the addicted, and allow the drug dealers who prey on addiction to freely roam the streets.

That doesn’t matter to the amendment’s funders. They won’t have to live with its consequences. We will.

Issue 1 doesn’t do anything to fix the human suffering of drug abuse. It doesn’t make our communities safer. It only takes away our ability to decide how we want to keep our communities and families safe.

If you want a serious discussion about drug abuse and Ohio’s drug crisis, you only have one choice. Vote NO on Issue 1.

Ken Blackwell is an advisor to the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

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