Issue 1 Terrible Idea for Ohio

Some rich advocates of legalizing killer drugs apparently think Ohioans are suckers for a slick propaganda campaign. But the vast majority of voters are too thoughtful to fall for arguments on behalf of Issue 1 on the Nov. 6 election ballot.

One thing many Buckeye State voters understand is that when an amendment to the state constitution is proposed, proponents can call it whatever they wish, no matter how transparently dishonest the title.

Issue 1, which would alter the state’s fundamental document of government, falls into that category. It is referred to as the Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Amendment. All three of the claims made in the title are false.

If adopted, the amendment would ban judges from sentencing those convicted of drug offenses to jail or prison the first and second times they are caught.

How would allowing drug offenders to go back out on the street make our neighborhoods safer?

How would it increase treatment of those addicted to illicit substances such as heroin? The tough love of a few months or years in prison, away from easy access to drugs, often is the catalyst that leads addicts to seek treatment.

The same thing can be said for efforts to rehabilitate addicts.

During an informational meeting regarding Issue 1 last week, Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato made it clear he opposes the plan.

It may be that no one in Belmont County is more familiar with the devastation of drug abuse and the psychology of addicts. He sees them all the time.

One exceedingly interesting point the judge made is that, according to state figures, 95.5 percent of the funding to promote Issue 1 is coming from outside Ohio. He cited two names of big contributors — Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and rich ultra-liberal George Soros.

What does it tell us that few Buckeye State residents on the front lines of the substance abuse crisis are willing spend their own money to support Issue 1?

Issue 1 is more than a bad idea for the state as a whole. It could be a disaster for many drug addicts — and for those who, while not caught up in the catastrophe of abuse now, would be targeted by pushers eager to do business in a state that has all but legalized their deadly wares.

Fregiato is right: A “no” vote on Issue 1 is the sensible reaction to the proposal.


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