Past events

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“.