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Drug Enforcement and Policy Center celebrates five years

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This year, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law marks five years of efforts to shape and enrich public conversations about the intersecting fields of criminal justice and drug policy. Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, is executive director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. Berman founded the center in 2017 with support from the full Moritz faculty and initial funding from the Charles Koch Foundation.  

“DEPC has produced and supported cutting-edge criminal justice and drug policy research, has enriched the public discourse on topics such as marijuana reform and record relief, and has served the local, state and national community in myriad ways,” Berman said. 

DEPC has produced a web-based report to celebrate this milestone and to share the many accomplishments of the center in its first five years.  


Over the last five years, DEPC has published:  

  • 42 original research reports, studies, and proposals for legislative change, 

  • Eight interactive data and policy analysis resource pages, 

  • Four special journal issues and  

  • 69 student papers. 

In addition to the center’s founding grants from the Charles Koch Foundation and the Menard Family, it has received $1.4 million in additional funding from other sources. DEPC also collaborated on externally funded research projects and awarded over $500,000 in the form of research grants to faculty members in The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and John Glenn College of Public Affairs as well as researchers from other universities. 


To date, DEPC has hosted a wide variety of events and programming in support of its educational, community outreach and public engagement goals. The 54 events focused on topics across the drug policy and criminal justice reform space, with some of the most attended events centering on Ohio marijuana reform and record relief. With the switch to online and hybrid events, the center was able to extend its collaborations with academic centers, government actors, legal practitioners, public policy advocates and other experts across the nation. Over 6700 people registered for an event over the last three years. Most events were recorded and shared on YouTube where they have garnered over 10,000 views to date. 

Service Projects 

In addition to other research and service partnerships, the center established two service engagement projects focused on Ohio.  

  • The Ohio Governor's Expedited Pardon Project, a collaboration with Governor DeWine, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and the Reentry Clinic at the University of Akron School of Law, aims to expedite the process by which people petition for a formal pardon from the Governor under Ohio’s laws. The project provides free legal support for pardon applicants that meet certain criteria and can show that they have been rehabilitated. To date, 79 expedited pardons have been granted through the project.  

  • Opportunity Port, a collaboration with the Columbus City Council, is an online portal that connects those with criminal records in Franklin Count and Tuscarawas County with the free legal help they need to complete and file a record sealing application. Over 350 applications for record sealing have been filed through the program so far. A statewide expansion of Opportunity Port services is planned for fall 2023. 



One of the center’s core goals is to train and educate the next generation of law and policy leaders. To that end, DEPC faculty taught related courses, studied drug law education, provided financial support and employment opportunities for students and launched an educational podcast.  

Center-affiliated faculty taught courses on a range of topics including: 

  • the business law aspect of marijuana reforms,  

  • the legal history of drug control in the United States,  

  • federal and state clemency decision-making,  

  • opioids and the law,  

  • criminal justice policy and 

  • marijuana law.  

The center also tracked five years of marijuana law courses taught at accredited law schools through the Teaching Drugs project and blog. Finally, DEPC directly supported students through employment, facilitated internships and fellowships that partially supported students' participation in the D.C. Summer Program. Year five saw the launch of the Drugs on the Docket podcast. The series explores how U.S. court rulings impact drug law and policy and continue to shape the War on Drugs. In addition to serving to educate the public on these issues, the six episodes of season 1 serve educators in law and public policy schools looking for engaging, multimedia content to employ in their courses. 

The DEPC team, which consists of administrative and research staff, interdisciplinary faculty, attorneys and distinguished visiting practitioners, served as an educational resource for academia, students, government professionals and the public who sought reliable and objective information on the intersecting fields of drug policy and criminal justice. The center and its faculty and staff received over 450 media mentions since June of 2020. Media outlets sought out our faculty and staff on issues ranging from marijuana reform and the opioid epidemic to criminal justice reform and sentencing policies.  

DEPC’s work is made possible by the center’s many supporters and generous funders. As DEPC celebrates this milestone, the team is thankful for all those who enable the center, its faculty, and staff to work in this evolving space. But even as they look back, DEPC is eager to continue its mission.  

“Our first years of experiences and accomplishments ultimately serve as a kind of preface for what I hope will be many more years of contributions from DEPC,” said Berman. 


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