State Issue 1, Ohio's drug sentencing ballot amendment, has failed at the polls.
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State Issue 1 proposed a constitutional amendment mandating that illegal drug possession be prosecuted as a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Non-violent offenders caught with drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine would not have served jail time unless it was their third offense in two years.
The campaign for Issue 1 received a large amount of financial support from outside of Ohio—including half of its money from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
There was far less money on the opposing side, but several prominent law enforcement and judicial groups, as well as the Republican statewide ticket, came out against it.
Those opposing the amendment, including Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, said it would make it more difficult to prosecute drug traffickers and that it took away leverage from the court system to use incarceration when necessary. That message seems to have resonated with Ohio voters.
Dennis Willard, spokesperson for the Yes on Issue 1 campaign, said in a statement that “the Yes on Issue 1 campaign is the beginning, not the end." The coalition plans to continue to push for reforms in drug sentencing laws to favor treatment over imprisonment.