Supporters of an Ohio proposal to reduce penalties for nonviolent drug crime offenders submitted hundreds of thousands of signatures on Wednesday to put the measure on the November ballot, reports Cleveland.com.
The “Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation” amendment is backed by a bipartisan coalition of community, law enforcement, faith and business leaders and groups. The Ohio Safe and Healthy Communities Campaign submitted 730,031 signatures; 305,591 valid signatures of registered voters are needed to qualify for the ballot.
“These signatures are a testament to the number of Ohioans who want our state to invest in proven treatment for addiction instead of more spending on bloated prisons,” said campaign spokeswoman Amanda Hoyt.
Under the proposition, possessing, obtaining or using a drug or drug paraphernalia would be a misdemeanor offense, with a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and $1,000 fine. First and second offenses within a two-year period could only be punished with probation. The provisions would not apply to convictions for the sale, distribution or trafficking of drugs or to convictions for any drug offense that, based on volume or weight, are a first-, second- or third-degree felony.
Money saved by the amendment would be diverted to substance abuse programs (70 percent) and to crime victims services (30 percent.) The campaign received a $500,000 grant in March from the Open Philanthropy Project, which gives money to criminal justice reform efforts.