Photo of Doug Berman and other presenters with text that reads sharing ideas and insights

The center aims to bridge the gap between academic research and policy realities by providing a space where academics, government leaders and other stakeholders can engage and collaborate on examining issues of interest and concern. To do so, the center will host conferences and symposia to educate and bring awareness to drug policy and enforcement issues.  The center aspires to provide stakeholders with programming and materials that can aid them in their day-to-day work and create a forum to discuss the challenges presented by this field.

Mar 18 | Lawyering in Cannabis


Due to recent proactive event restrictions outlined by The Ohio State University in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the center has elected to cancel all events through April 20. We will look to reschedule for a later date. Thank you for your understanding.

Join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center on March 18 for a lunch discussion on lawyering in the cannabis industry. Learn how to navigate this space and what it takes to work in the industry from legal professionals employed in this emerging area of law.

Learn more and register for the event on the event page.

When: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 from noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Drinko Hall, Room 252

March 26 | Policing in the Cannabis and Opioid Era


Due to recent proactive event restrictions outlined by The Ohio State University in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the center has elected to cancel all events through April 20. We will look to reschedule for a later date. Thank you for your understanding.

Policing in the Cannabis and Opioid Era: Challenges and Opportunities

Join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for a panel discussion on law enforcement in an era of increased cannabis decriminalization and growing opioid addiction. Panelists will address the impact, challenges and opportunities the era presents to police departments in Ohio and nationwide.

Learn more and register for the event on the event page.

When: Thursday, March 26, 2020 from noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Drinko Hall, Room TBA

Mar 31 | Embracing Clemency


Due to recent proactive event restrictions outlined by The Ohio State University in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the center has elected to cancel all events through April 20. We will look to reschedule for a later date. Thank you for your understanding.

Embracing Clemency: a look at current efforts to address collateral consequences from the War on Drugs

Join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for a lunchtime event featuring a panel of clemency experts and activists. Panelists will discuss ongoing efforts to bring relief to those languishing in prison and enduring collateral consequences resulting from long-past convictions. Particular attention will be given to persons convicted and still being punished for cannabis offenses in an era of legal reforms as the panelists discuss the challenges and opportunities related to clemency work.

Learn more and register for the event on the event page.

When: Tuesday, March 31, 2020 from noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Drinko Hall, Room 244



February 20-22 | The Controlled Substances Act at 50 Conference

CSA at 50 February 20-22, 2020

In February of 2020, to mark a half-century of drug policy under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and the Academy for Justice at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law co-sponsored a conference in Phoenix, Arizona to look back on how the CSA has helped shape modern American drug laws and policies and to look forward toward the direction these laws could and should take in the next 50 years.

For post-event resources and outputs, visit the conference event page.

When: February 20-22, 2020
Where: Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in Phoenix, Arizona

January 24 | Cannabiz Roundtable on Hemp and CBD

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Center for Innovation Strategies hosted From Reefer Madness to Hemp Utopia: CBD, Hemp and the Evolving Regulation of Commoditized Cannabis as part of the ongoing Cannabiz Roundtable discussion. The event featured a panel of experts as they discussed the challenges of regulating the unusual agricultural commodity that is hemp and the myriad products infused with one of its derivatives, CBD.

Learn more on the full event page.

When: Friday, January 24, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
Where: 2nd Floor Rotunda, Mason Hall

November 25 | One and Done: How My Life Got Started When My Football Career Ended with Maurice Clarett

Maurice Clarett One and Done book cover
The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a special lunch event with former Ohio State football player Maurice Clarett. Clarett discussed his new autobiography, One and Done: How My Life Started When My Football Career Ended, touching on identity, mental health, incarceration, the criminal justice system and his work to improve the lives of struggling student athletes.

Learn more on the full event page.

When: Friday, November 25, noon - 1 p.m.
Where: Drinko Hall 244

November 15 | Conversation with Zac Bolitho: An Insider’s View of the U.S. Sentencing Commission

Zachary Bolitho
The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a lunch conversation with Mr. Zachary Bolitho, an Assistant Professor at the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University. Bolitho discussed his work as the Chief of Staff and Associate Deputy Attorney General for former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and his experience of serving as the Department of Justice’s ex officio member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Prior to Campbell Law, Bolitho served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee and was a litigation associate with the law firm Jones Day and a law clerk to Judge David W. McKeague of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

He received his J.D., summa cum laude, from The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law.

When: Friday, November 15, noon - 1 p.m.
Where: Drinko Hall 246

November 14 | Cannabiz Innovation Sprint Final Pitch

The second annual Ohio State Cannabiz Innovation Sprint will concluded with a Final Pitch featuring the top five proposals for innovative ideas for the cannabis industry. Proposals resulted from an 8-week workshop co-hosted by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) and the Center for Innovation Strategies (CIS).

The Cannabiz Innovation Sprint guides multidisciplinary student teams through a comprehensive process to develop disruptive solutions to one of today’s most unique emerging markets: cannabis. Throughout the workshops and into the Final Pitch, students gain access to cannabis industry leaders looking for student talent for both employment and investment opportunities. To find out more, please visit the

When: Thursday, November 14, 2019 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Where: Mason Hall, 2nd Floor Rotunda, 250 W Woodruff Ave, Columbus, Ohio

November 6 | Issue 1 One Year Later

Issue 1 One Year Later

One year after Ohio voters soundly rejected a criminal justice reform ballot initiative known as Issue 1, legislative leaders and experts looked at the past and future of drug and criminal justice reforms in the State of Ohio and beyond. The event was co-hosted by the Buckeye Institute, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission.

After Ohio voters in November 2018 soundly rejected Issue 1, both proponents and opponents of the initiative proclaimed their commitment to enacting at least some of its elements through the legislative process. Public officials, including many who opposed Issue 1, expressed interest in various reform proposals that would soften punitive approaches to drug addiction and non-violent drug crimes and would increase treatment options for those suffering from substance use disorder.

Now, one year later, the story of reform is still in development, with the Ohio General Assembly considering a number of criminal justice reform proposals but no changes enacted into law as of now. Meanwhile, significant sentencing and prison reforms were enacted at the federal level, which has helped propel state level reforms in other states. This forum closely examined the past and future outlook of criminal justice reforms in the State of Ohio and explore the state of criminal justice reform at the national level.

Learn more and watch video of the event at


October 18 | FIRST STEP Act: Conversation with Jonathan Wroblewski, Director, Office of Policy and Legislation, Criminal Division, U.S. DOJ

Jonathan Wroblewski serves as the Director of the Office of Policy and Legislation in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and he has also directed Harvard Law School's Semester in Washington Program for a decade. He will speak generally about the history of sentencing and corrections in the U.S., and specifically about how best to understand the landmark new FIRST STEP Act, its place in US criminal justice history, and where we might go next. Please register below to join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for lunch and a lively discussion (lunch will be served).


WHEN: October 18, 2019, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: Drinko Hall 246

October 4 | 100 Years Since Prohibition: Legacy for the War on Drugs

Lisa McGirr

Professor, History Department
Harvard University

In her latest book, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State, Lisa McGirr revises our understanding of the Prohibition years. The 1920s were not just about gin joints and Jazz; McGirr emphasizes, instead,  the serious and long-lasting legacies of the ban on alcohol.  McGirr charts how the ban built the edifice of the federal penal state, fueled the Ku Klux Klan’s power, reshaped politics, and served as a dress rehearsal for the much larger and longer lasting war on drugs.

When: Friday, October 4, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Where: Barrister Club


Lisa McGirr is a professor in the History Department at Harvard University. She specializes in the history of the 20th century United States. Her research and teaching interests bridge the fields of social and political history and focus, in particular, on collective action, state building, reform movements, and politics. She has researched on the American penal state, transnational social movements, and the intersection of religion and politics in the twentieth-century United States. Her most recent book The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State (W.W. Norton, 2016) has won wide acclaim for excavating the significant but neglected state-building legacies of national Prohibition. Her award winning first book, Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right investigates the social and regional basis of grass-roots conservative politics in the post-World War II United States. She teaches a wide variety of courses on the history of the United States in the 20th century.

October 2 | Beyond Guilt: Lunch conversation with David Singleton, Ex. Dir. of Ohio Justice and Policy Center

David Singleton

Executive Director, Ohio Justice and Policy Center

Please join the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for a discussion with Mr. David Singleton, Executive Director of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center, about their new initiative Beyond Guilt. The initiative, featured recently in a New York Times article, addresses the plight of individuals who are often forgotten by criminal justice reform groups, those that have admitted guilt and were convicted of more serious offenses, including violent crimes.

When: Wednesday, October 2, 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
Where: Drinko Hall 245

September 26 | Cannabiz Innovation Sprint Kick Off

The Drug Enforcement & Policy Center is partnering with the Center for Innovation Strategies for the second annual Cannabiz Innovation Sprint. For 5-weeks, teams of students from a number of disciplines will go through five 1-hour workshops to develop cutting-edge innovative concepts to one of today's most unique emerging markets.

The sprint will conclude with a final pitch event on November 14, 2019, attended by the cannabis industry leaders looking for student talent to employ for future internships and investment opportunities. Additionally, there will be up to $3,000 in prizes given away! To find out more, please visit the Sprint website.

Pizza will be served.

To register for the kick off event, please click here.

When: September 26, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Where: Drinko Hall 244



September 17 | Record Sealing Information Session

On September 17, Professor Douglas Berman discusses why record sealing and related work is the next frontier in criminal justice reform, and recent Moritz grad Tori Edwards discussed the impact such work can have on people with a criminal conviction and provide information to our students regarding record sealing eligibility, how the record sealing process works, and how to apply to get a record sealed in Franklin County. If you are interested in finding out more about how you can help people with applying for clemency and record sealing, please contact Jana Hrdinova at

September 6 | Buckeyes in Cannabis



The first-ever gathering of Buckeyes working in the cannabis industry

The US legal cannabis industry has grown into a multi-billion-dollar sector, employing over 200,000 people. With the state of Ohio legalizing medical cannabis and its neighbors embracing full legalization, Ohio State students and graduates are dynamically engaging with this industry and its impacts in various ways and in various settings.

Buckeyes in Cannabis provided an opportunity for all Buckeyes who work in or around this industry, as well as those in government/public policy roles related to cannabis law and policy, to come together to network and discuss emerging cannabis issues and the future of cannabis reform in the state of Ohio and nationally.

To find out more, please visit

September 6 | Lawyering in Cannabis Space

The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, projected to reach over 200,000 full-time employees in 2019 and expected to grow to $47.3 billion in sales by 2027. Yet, the birth of this new multi-billion industry is being accompanied by a lot of unusual challenges, risks, and opportunities mainly driven by the murky legal status of its product.

On September 6 the center organized a lunch discussion with legal professionals who practice in the cannabis space to enable students to learn about what it takes to serve this industry.


  • Luis Alcalde , Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter
  • Benton Bodamer, Dickinson Wright
  • Eliott Frank, Sadis & Goldberg LLP
  • Tod Friedman, Schottenstein Property Group
  • Jennifer Nelson-Carney, Bricker & Eckler
  • David Patton, Patton Law Firm LLC


2018 - 2019 EVENTS

The Business of Cannabis Roundtable
Building Industry Diversity and Legislative Updates

May 16 | Columbus, Ohio

The legal landscape of the cannabis industry continues to change both at the state and federal level, creating continuous challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs in Ohio. At the same time, the cannabis industry is facing a challenge of ensuring that it reflects the diversity of our community and that communities that have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs benefit from opportunities in the legal industry. Our second Business of Cannabis Roundtable encompassed two panels discussing both issues.

Building Industry Diversity
As in many other states, the cannabis industry in Ohio is challenged with ensuring that it reflects the diversity of its community. Despite increased attention among the industry professionals and government entities alike, companies continue to struggle with recruiting, training and retaining a diverse workforce. Our panel of industry professionals discussed their own experience of entering this new industry, resources that are available for training and recruitment and strategies for building a diverse industry.

Legislative Updates
Our second panel focused on legislative and regulatory updates in respect to Ohio’s medical marijuana program and Ohio’s treatment of hemp and CBD. Given the recent changes in the federal law, our panel of experts discussed what changes are afoot in Ohio and how will these changes affect the cannabis industry.

For more information, please visit the event's page

Drug War Deja Vu: Combating Punitive Responses to the Overdose Crisis

April 9 | Washington, DC

The overdose crisis continues in the United States, with 2017 marking the 7th year since overdose became the leading cause of accidental deaths. But unlike in the past, today’s crisis is prompting some compassion, at least rhetorically, with frequent calls emphasizing the need for treatment over incarceration, and eliciting sympathy for its victims rather than condemnation.

Nonetheless, drug war strategies persist. The use of the criminal justice system continues to dominate local, state, and federal responses to drug use; as overdose death rates continue to rise, so do the number of policy proposals focused on punishment and retribution instead of public health and safety.  Since November 2015, 25 states have passed legislation to increase fentanyl-related penalties, and prosecutors are increasingly charging people murder if they sell a drug that is used in an overdose death.

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center partnered with the Drug Policy Alliance and the Charles Koch Institute to organize a one-day, invitation-only briefing for federal criminal justice reform groups to discuss the overdose crisis and approaches to defeating punitive criminal justice proposals.

Please visit the Drug War Deja Vu website for more information

The Prohibition Era and Policing

March 4 | Columbus, Ohio

Wes Oliver's recent book, The Prohibition Era and Policing: A Legacy of Misregulation, contends that our regulation of police practices as it developed during the Prohibition era created intensive regulation of search and seizures, but only limited oversight of police force and investigatory methods that risk wrongful conviction.  Professor Oliver discussed his provocative thesis, followed by a discussion with experts in legal history and criminal procedure exploring what his ideas mean for policing today.


  • Wesley M. Oliver, Professor of Law, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Scholarship, Criminal Justice Program Director, Duquesne University School of Law


  • The Honorable Maureen O'Connor, Chief Justice, Ohio Supreme Court
  • The Honorable Jeffrey S. Sutton, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • Andrea Headley, PhD, The John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University


Kratom: What is it and how should it be regulated?

February 20th | Columbus, Ohio

Depending on whom you listen to, kratom, an indigenous plant from Southeast Asia, is either one of two things: a wonder plant used for hundreds of years to alleviate pain, anxiety and help with opioids cravings and withdrawal, or the next deadly scourge that needs to be banned completely. With federal and Ohio officials now actively considering whether and how to regulate kratom, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center organized a panel to raise awareness about what is kratom and what regulatory framework should be applied to it to create most public benefit.


  • Robert J. Weber, PharmD, MS, BCPS, FASHP, FNAP
    Administrator for pharmacy services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Assistant Dean for Medical Center Affairs at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
  • C. M. Haddow
    American Kratom Association
    Senior Fellow on Public Policy
  • Goeff Laredo
    Former Senior Advisor to the Director, Office of Science Policy and Communications, National Institute on Drug Abuse


Business of Cannabis Roundtable

January 31 | Columbus, Ohio

With cannabis being illegal at the federal level but many states moving to legalize it for both medical and recreational purposes, how does one navigate this new emerging market properly? The birth of this new multi-billion industry is being accompanied with a lot of unusual challenges, risks and opportunities. Additionally, these realities are further amplified when the product at the heart of this industry – cannabis – remains a controversial topic on the policy level. Our panel discussed various aspects of this industry including regulations and legal questions, raising funds and working through a recalcitrant financial system, and running a new business in an uncharted territory.



  • Douglas A. Berman, Director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Moritz College of Law


Ballot Insights: The Failure of Issue 1: What Can We Learn From Ohio’s Vote and What Is Next?

November 29 | Columbus, Ohio

The Ohio criminal justice reform initiative, also known as Issue 1, was soundly defeated at the polls on November 6. In its aftermath, officials in Franklin County have proposed to the Ohio legislature a set of reforms that purport to be a better approach to the concerns Issue 1 sought to address, and the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission is also discussing changes to Ohio’s drug laws. Our last installment in our Ballot Insights series focused on the post-election analysis of Ohio’s voting patterns and what should be the next steps for sensible criminal justice reform in the state of Ohio given the public statements of many elected officials expressing their support for getting something done.


  • Sara Andrews, Executive Director, Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
  • Lara Baker-Morrish, City Solicitor General, City of Columbus
  • Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, Director, DEPC
  • Dennis Cauchon, President, Harm Reduction Ohio
  • Stephen JohnsonGrove, Deputy Director for Policy, Ohio Justice & Policy Center


  • Alex Kreit, Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law; Visiting Professor, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law


The Impact of 2018 Elections on National Drug Policy and Criminal Justice Reform

November 15 | Columbus, Ohio

Regardless of one’s political leaning, a consensus has emerged that the clear winner in the 2018 midterm election was marijuana (Forbes). Three additional states legalized marijuana (Michigan for recreational purposes, Utah and Missouri for medical purposes), and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization, has been forced to resign. The story on the side of criminal justice reform is less clear, with some states, such as Florida, embracing criminal justice reform provisions, while others, like Ohio, soundly rejecting them.

Professors Douglas Berman and Alex Kreit discussed the results of the election and what it might mean for the cannabis industry, the direction of the war on drugs and chances for a broader criminal justice reform.


Official Launch of DEPC with Governor Sandoval and CBS Correspondent Erin Moriarty

November 2 | Columbus, Ohio

Thank you to all who joined the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center for its official launch event on Friday, November 2. We were joined by two distinguished alumni of the Moritz College of Law: the governor of the State of Nevada, the Honorable Brian Sandoval (’89), and CBS Correspondent, Erin Moriarty (’77).

Governor Sandoval and Ms. Moriarty, along with the center’s director, professor Douglas Berman, discussed a number of issues including the current opioid crisis, the growing momentum behind marijuana legalization and how to best manage this process, and the importance of evidence-based policy decision making.


Ballot Insights – Sentencing and Parole Reform in Practice: Insights on Implementation Challenges

November 1 | Columbus, Ohio

Sentencing reform focused on non-violent drug offenses has gained considerable support both at the state and federal level. As policymakers seek to find ways to lessen penalties associated with these types of crimes and provide retroactive relief to people effected by the war on drugs, the evidence from a number of states suggests achieving this goal might be more challenging than previously imagined. Our panel of experts discussed the potential impact of the ballot initiative on the criminal justice system and communities disproportionally affected by the war on drugs. Additionally, they discussed what steps should Ohio take to prepare for its possible passage and what could be done to ensure that the topics included in this initiative are addressed by the Ohio legislature should the initiative fail.


  • Sarah Andrews, Director, Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
  • Alex Kreit, JD, Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law; visiting professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
  • Carol O’Brien, JD, Delaware County Prosecutor
  • Reginald Wilkinson, EdD, President, Connecting the Dots, LLC; former Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitations and Corrections


Kyle Strickland, JD, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University


Ballot Insights – Devil in the Details: Funding Effective Rehabilitation and Treatment

October 18 | Columbus, Ohio

The cost of the opioid crisis counted in lives lost and permanently altered has been well documented over the last few years as public awareness has risen and families from all walks of lives have been affected. One of the aims of the Ohio Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment is to provide additional funding for treatment and rehabilitation for people struggling with substance use disorder.  However, not all treatment is created equal and the amendment is silent on how to ensure that funds go to proven effective treatment programs. Our panel of experts discussed challenges connected to the actual implementation of the initiative, the issue of insufficient access to treatment, the importance of Medicaid expansion and the latest evidence on the effectiveness of various treatment programs and strategies.


  • Daniel Skinner, PhD, Assistant Professor, Health Policy, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University
  • Phil Nunes, Chief Operating Officer, Alvis, Inc. (already have bio)
  • Dustin Mets, JD, Chief Executive Officer, CompDrug


Taleed El-Sabawi, JD, PhD candidate in College of Public Health, The Ohio State University


Ballot Insights – Earning Freedom: Working Toward Sentence Reduction

October 4 | Columbus, Ohio

The 2018 Ohio Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment is a ballot initiative aiming to change Ohio constitution to achieve four goals: (1) change drug possession felonies to misdemeanors, (2) prohibit prison sentences for technical probation violations, (3) expand the ability to earn up to 25% off a prison sentence through rehabilitative programming, and (4) redirect funds saved from reduced incarceration to drug treatment and victims’ services. Our series, Ballot Insights, aims to unpack the complicated issues and provide a venue for informed discussion of the individual policy proposals included in this proposed constitutional amendment. The October 4th event focused on the proposed increase in ability of incarcerated people to earn up to 25% time off their sentence through participation in rehabilitative programming. At present, Ohio has a cap of 8%, one of the lowest in the nation.

Panelists’ bios


From Punishment to Public Health: Embracing Evidence-Based Solutions to Ending the Overdose Crisis

September 27 -28 | Columbus, Ohio

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center partnered with the Drug Policy Alliance, ACLU Ohio, and the Harm Reduction Ohio to organize a conference that explored the impact of criminal justice laws and policies in compounding drug use harms, including overdose deaths, and offered an alternative framework for addressing problematic drug use and drug-related fatalities rooted in evidence, compassion, and the principles of harm reduction. The conference was attended by over 250 people across Ohio and neighboring states.


Laboratories of Democracy: Drug Policy in the United State

September 25 | Washington, D.C.

On September 25 the center, with support from the Charles Koch Foundation, hosted Laboratories of Democracy: Drug Policy in the United States. This event brought together leading experts from different spheres and perspectives to discuss the diverse and challenging policy questions that have emerged in the drug policy area. The speakers used their knowledge to propose drug policy solutions to tackle the difficult problems faced by our country and engaged attendees in an action-oriented discussion on how our country can move forward with positive solutions to addiction and substance abuse. The event was held at The Willard InterContinental in Washington, DC.


  • Jamie Brown, Athletes for Care, Former NFL Player
  • Daniel Dew, The Buckeye Institute
  • Liz Essley Whyte, Center for Public Integrity
  • John Hudak, Brookings Institution
  • Alex Kreit, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and The Ohio State University
  • Joe Sabia, San Diego State University and the University of New Hampshire
  • Sally Satel, AEI
  • David Whitesock, Face It Together
  • Bob Zaccheo, Project L.I.F.T.

Ballot Insights: The Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment: Step in the Right Direction?

September 13 | Columbus, Ohio

Direct democracy through ballot initiative has a long history in the United States. In recent years, criminal justice reform advocates have turned to initiatives to achieve victories on a number of diverse issues, including victims’ rights, sentencing reform, marijuana legalization and favoring drug treatment over incarceration. But as the use of ballot initiatives has grown, so has a debate among scholars and government professionals about the potential benefits and drawbacks of using direct democracy to legislate complex and nuanced policy matters. Our panel of experts discussed the ballot initiative’s aims and objectives, as well as the pros and cons of harnessing the power of the people to achieve intricate policy changes.


  • Daniel Dew, Legal Fellow, Buckeye Institute
  • Steven JohnsonGrove, Attorney/Deputy Director for Policy, Ohio Justice and Policy Center
  • Louis Tobin, Executive Director, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association


August 13 – 15 | Columbus, Ohio

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center was proud to collaborate with the National Association of Sentencing Commissions on organizing the 2018 NASC Annual Conference, which took place from August 13-15 in Columbus, Ohio. The conference brought together representatives from sentencing commissions around the country, whose work often intersects with other components of the criminal justice system, including bail, interstate compact, parole, diversionary programs, and problem solving courts. The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center was involved in planning of two panels – “The Impact for Sentencing Commissions: Marijuana Reform & Changes in Drug Laws” and “Drug Use and Effective Partnerships: Legal Academics, Law Schools and Sentencing Commissions“.