Resources for Issue 1: Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Amendment Initiative

Issue 1, also known under its original title The Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment, is an effort aimed at amending several aspects of Ohio’s criminal justice system. Given the complex nature of the proposed changes, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center has collected resources to provide relevant information to the public to assist them in their decision making. The resources include the original wording of the initiative, as well as selected media coverage, official position statements from stakeholder groups and relevant information about other states’ similar efforts. The center has also solicited expert commentaries from leading academics that can be found here.


Issue 1 - Wording and summary
Issue 1 - Reports and analyses

Informational resources

Fiscal analysis by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management

Analysis by the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission

Policy Matters Ohio

Issue 1 Fact Sheet - ACLU Ohio


Race and Criminal Justice: Ohio Issue 1 and Beyond

Kyle Strickland, Senior Legal Research Associate; Kelly Capatosto, Senior Research Associate; Leigha Grosh, Intern, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity; Cyan Blackwell, Student, John Glenn College of Public Affairs

Mass incarceration is a crisis in America. Nationwide, 2.2 million Americans are in prison or jail. Nearly five million are on community control. Many of these Americans are locked away or punished for low-level, non-violent drug offenses. Our nation’s history of racism and discrimination is deeply ingrained in our criminal justice system. Today, Black men are imprisoned at six times the rate of White men, and Black women are imprisoned at nearly twice the rate of White women. These disparities cannot be simply attributed to higher propensity to commit crimes. Research shows that people of color are more likely to be arrested and sentenced longer than whites, even in cases where similar crimes are committed at similar rates. If current trends continue, one of every three Black men born today will go to prison in his lifetime, as well as one of every six Latino men.

Read the brief

Reclassified: State Drug Law Reforms to Reduce Felony Convictions and Increase Second Chances

Brian Elderbroom and Julia Durnan, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute

Recognizing the harm caused by felony convictions and the importance of targeting limited correctional resources more efficiently, state policymakers and voters have made key adjustments to their drug laws in recent years. Beginning in 2014 with Proposition 47 in California, five states have reclassified all drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. Following the California referendum, legislation in Utah (House Bill 348 in 2015), Connecticut (House Bill 7104 in 2015), and Alaska (Senate Bill 91 in 2016) p assed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, and Oklahoma voters in 2016 reclassified drug possession through a ballot initiative (State Question 780) with nearly 60 percent support. The reforms that have been passed in recent years share three critical details: convictions for simple drug possession up to the third conviction are classified as misdemeanors, people convicted of drug possession are ineligible for state prison sentences, and these changes apply to virtually all controlled substances. This brief explores the policy details of reclassification, the potential impact of the reforms, and lessons for other states looking to adopt similar changes to their drug laws.

Read the brief

Issue 1 - Selected media coverage

The information presented below provides a selection of media coverage of Issue 1.

11-8-2018 - Lawmakers after Ohio Issue 1: Reduce drug penalties. Curb state constitution changes.

11-8-2018 - After Issue 1 fails, state leaders vow to take up criminal justice reform

11-5-2018 - Ohio Voting Guide: What To Know About The 2018 Election

11-5-2018 - Enquirer endorsement: No on Issue 1

11-5-2018 - Ohio Issue 1: War on Drugs isn't working. Is a constitutional amendment the fix?

11-2-2018 - Vote Yes on 1: Why We Must Treat and Not Jail Addiction

11-1-2018 - Days ahead of vote, debate over Issue 1 continues

11-1-2018 - Drug-addicted are choosing prison over treatment.  Will Issue 1 help or hurt?

10-30-2018 - Would passage of state Issue 1 really stop prosecution of most fentanyl dealers?

10-30-2018 - Toledo clergy voice support for Issue 1

10-30-2018 - Fentanyl amount at center of Issue 1 debate

10-29-2018 - Policy Matters Ohio supports State Issue 1

10-29-2018 - Ohio voters to decide on Issue 1

10-23-2018 - Drug traffickers would flood our state’: Judges pan Issue 1

10-23-2018 - Former supreme court justice endorses Issue 1

10-21-2018 - Cutting through the hype: What Issue 1 would mean in Ohio

10-21-2018 - Ohio Issue 1 hot topic during Butler County budget talks

10-21-2018 - Opinion: Municipal court judges oppose State Issue 1

10-21-2018 - Opinion: Reject establishment thinking and save lives with a yes vote on Issue 1: Amy Hanauer

10-18-2018 - Issue 1, Explained: What to Know About Ohio’s Drug Sentencing Amendment

10-17-2018 - Election 2018: Issue 1 Supporters and Opponents Make Their Case

10-17-2018 - Debate heats up over Ohio Issue 1

10-15-2018 - Group of regional mayors and city managers comes out against Issue 1

10-13-2018 - Ohio Issue 1 FAQ: What you need to know

10-13-2018 - Gingrich breaks with Ohio’s GOP leaders, backs drug issue

10-12-2018 - How Ohio voters could upend the state’s war on drugs this November

10-11-2018 - State analysis: Issue 1 cost savings overstated

10-11-2018 - Election 2018: Who supports Ohio Issue 1? Who opposes it?

10-10-2018 - Midterm election poll: Ohio Issue 1, Democrats leading among likely voters

10-9-2018 - Summit County judges, prosecutor unite against Issue 1

10-8-2018 - Ohio lawmakers keep toughening drug penalties, Issue 1 supporter says

10-8-2018 - State Issue 1 facing local opposition

10-7-2018 - The voter-turnout impact of State Issue 1, the Ohio drug crimes issue

10-6-2018 - November ballot issue seeks to reform Ohio drug laws

10-4-2018 - Community members gather at Ohio Valley Mall to talk Issue 1

10-4-2018 - Ohio Black Caucus backs Issue 1 while Delaware County officials say no

10-3-2018 - What they’re saying about State Issue 1: Why they support or oppose the issue

10-2-2018 - Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate Weighs In On Issue 1

10-1-2018 - Candidates for Governor Spar on ECOT, Issue 1 But Mostly Agree on ‘Right to Work’ in Second Debate

9-30-2018 - Issue 1, like other statewide ballot issues in Ohio, traces its origins in part to legislative inaction: Thomas Suddes

9-26-2018 - Mike DeWine misleads about Issue 1, the drug amendment in Ohio

9-23-2018 - What is Ohio Issue 1?  Separating fact from fiction on divisive drug ballot initiative

9-20-2018 - State Issue 1 debaters square off on

9-20-2018 - Gov. John Kasich says he won't vote for Issue 1

9-19-2018 - Ohio's Issue 1: Dangerous and Deadly

9-17-2018 - Mike DeWine claims half-ton of fentanyl would be misdemeanor

9-17-2018 - Ohio State Issue 1: Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters to oppose Ohio Issue 1

9-13-2018 - Issue 1 support a trap for Cordray

9-13-2018 - Both sides debate effects of drug sentencing plan

9-11-18 - Dave Yost opposes state Issue 1; Steve Dettelbach undecided

9-10-18 - Mike DeWine, Robert Sprague latest to oppose Issue 1 drug crime amendment

9-10-18 - DeWine says Issue 1 impact ‘devastating,’ Cordray calls it smart policy

9-8-2018 - State Issue 1 draws fire at GOP luncheon

9-7-2018 - County officials wary of passing Issue 1

9-6-2018 - State Issue One will lessen drug crime punishment, local judges react

9-6-2018 - Issue One approved for ballot

9-5-2018 - Issue 1 Supporter Contradicts Concerns From Ohio's Top Judge

9-3-2018 - Concerns rise for Issue One in Ohio that would pay for treatment instead of prison

9-2-2018 - County officials wary of passing Issue 1

8-31-18 - Ohio Issue 1: Why is Facebook's Zuckerberg backing an Ohio ballot initiative to reduce drug penalties?

8-29-18 - Chief Justice O’Connor: Passage of Issue 1 would be ‘catastrophic’

8-28-18 - Departing prisons director: Ohio has too many behind bar

8-22-2018 - Facebook founders among backers of Ohio criminal justice reform amendment

8-17-2018 - Prisons chief says Ohio must accelerate sentencing reform, prison alternatives

8-14-2018 - Judges oppose drug sentencing ballot issue

8-4-2018 - Drug sentencing up for vote

8-3-2018 - Former Supreme Court Justice Tags Issue 1 As "Horrible Idea"

8-2-2018 - Issue 1 Supporters Call For Treatment Over Prison Time

7-30-2018 - Supporters, Skeptics Emerge for Amendment Reducing Sentencing for Drug Offenses

7-23-2018 - Voters will decide drug treatment, rehab ballot measure

7-23-2018 - Ohioans will vote on drug treatment and rehab issue in November

7-5-2018 - Ohio drug treatment and rehabilitation amendment could be on November ballot

12-13-2017 - Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Ballot Issue Can Now Collect Signatures


Other states' experience

Ohio's Issue 1 is not the first time that direct democracy has been used to ask voters to weigh in directly on the question of how should crimes involving small amounts of illegal drugs be classified. Below you will find resources from states whose voters have approved ballot measures that reclassified certain offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. While the details of each measure are distinct, they can provide useful background for voters faced with Issue 1.



In 2014, voters in California approved Proposition 47, which "reduces penalties for certain offenders convicted of nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes. The measure also allows certain offenders who have been previously convicted of such crimes to apply for reduced sentences. In addition, the measure requires any state savings that result from the measure be spent to support truancy (unexcused absences) prevention, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and victim services.” (Summary from California SOS Official Voter Information Guide)

Proposition 47 - text of ballot measure (starts on pg. 70)

Analysis of Proposition 47 by the Legislative Analyst

Board Awards $103m in Prop 47 Funds to Innovative Rehabilitative Programs

Proposition 47 Grant Summaries: June 2017 through August 2020

Can We Downsize Our Prisons and Jails Without Compromising Public Safety?

The Myth That Crime Rises as Prisons Shrink

Efforts to amend Proposition 47:

In the 2015 legislative session, a number of changes to Proposition 47 were proposed, but the bills either died in committee, were vetoed by the governor, or did not amend the specific provisions added by Proposition  47 and therefore did not have to go before the voters. In November 2017 an initiative entitled the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018” was filed with the Attorney General.  This initiative would change provisions of Proposition 47 and would go on the November 2020 ballot.  The measure would, among other things, “A. [r]eform the parole system so violent felons are not released early from prison, strengthen oversight of post-release community supervision and tighten penalties for violations of terms of post-release community supervision; B. Reform theft laws to restore accountability for serial thieves and organized theft rings; and C. Expand DNA collection from persons convicted of drug, theft and domestic violence related crimes to help solve violent crimes and exonerate the innocent.”  Initiative No. 17-0044, Amendment No. 1, Sec. 2


In November 2016, voters in the state of Oklahoma approved State Question 780 and State Question 781. State Question 780 changed some non-violent drug- and theft-related crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, thus reducing the number and duration of state prison sentences for those crimes. State Question 781 was designed to redistribute the money saved by the reduced prison costs to counties to fund rehabilitation of criminals. State Questions 780 and 781 were connected, with State Question 781 being dependent on the passage of State Question 780.

Oklahoma State Question 780 - text of the proposed initiative

Oklahoma State Question 780 - summary from Ballotpedia

Oklahoma State Question 781 - text of the proposed initiative

Oklahoma State Question 781 - summary from Ballotpedia

Oklahoma Smart Justice Reform Act (SQ 781) FY 2018 Calculations - report by OK Office of Management and Enterprise Services

SQ 780 is already reshaping Oklahoma’s justice system

With criminal justice reform, fewer prisoners, less spending

Drug Possession Law Change Slow to Impact Incarceration Rate in Oklahoma

Efforts to amend State Questions 780 and 781:

In March 2017, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill that would roll back some of the amendments by once again making it a felony to possess any amount of drugs within 1,000 feet of school property.  The Senate version was pulled from committee consideration in April 2017.


Issue 1 - Official position statements