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Previous Events

At present, the Ohio Supreme Court is in the process of creating its first-ever unified sentencing database to allow for the collection of felony sentencing decisions from all courts in the State of Ohio. While its proponents argue that collecting such information will help ensure that justice can be carried out consistently across various jurisdictions, its opponents express fear that such information will be manipulated and misused for political purposes.


On Tuesday, May 17, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual event featuring Ohio Supreme Court Justice Michael P. Donnelly. Justice Donnelly discussed his position on why data-driven sentencing reform in Ohio is necessary and long overdue. He provided concrete arguments for why data is key to better judicial-decision making and fostering a sense of justice among Ohio residents.


A recording will be available soon.

On Thursday, April 7, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Natural Therapies Education Foundation hosted two expert panels that focused on two possible routes to reform and the implications they may have for patients and Ohioans alike.
 

The fall of 2021 was eventful when it comes to Ohio marijuana reform proposals. Two major bills were introduced in the Ohio General Assembly, and a voter-initiated statute campaign collected enough signatures to be sent to the General Assembly for considerations. Yet, despite polling suggesting public support for these kinds of reforms, the Ohio political leadership appears unlikely to advance adult-use legalization in 2022. This panel of experts and policy advocates discussed the future of marijuana legalization in Ohio as a matter of politics and policy, including the arguments for and against reform and the possible consequences of action or inaction on the part of Ohio General Assembly.
 

Panelists:
Ohio Representative Ron Ferguson
Thomas Haren, Partner and Cannabis Practice Chair, Frantz Ward
Helen Mac Murray, Partner, Mac Murray & Shuster
Cat Packer, Former Executive Director, Department of Cannabis Regulation for the City of Los Angeles
Jodi Salvo, Director of Substance Use Prevention Services, OhioGuidestone

Moderator:
Benton Bodamer, Member, Dickinson Wright

On Thursday, April 7, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Natural Therapies Education Foundation hosted two expert panels that focused on two possible routes to reform and the implications they may have for patients and Ohioans alike.
 

After three years of operation, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program continues to grow and yet continues to be plagued by high levels of patient dissatisfaction due to access limits and high costs. The recent approval of dozens of new dispensary licenses comes as major reform bills have been introduced in the Ohio General Assembly with the aim of improving the Ohio MMCP's functionality for both patients and the cannabis industry. This panel of experts discussed on-going and proposed reforms, why they are needed and how they could impact the various stakeholders.
 

Panelists:
Ohio Senator Steven Huffman
Andrew Makoski, Senior Attorney, Ohio Department of Commerce Medical Marijuana Control Program
Tasha Rountree, medical marijuana caregiver in Ohio and patient in Michigan
Justin C. Sheridan, Director of Medical Marijuana Operations, State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy

Moderator:
Douglas Berman, Executive Director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

When Americans think of the criminal justice system, they picture a trial. The right to a trial by jury is supposed to undergird our entire justice system – but that bedrock constitutional right has all but disappeared thanks to plea bargaining. In 2018, more than 97 percent of defendants pleaded guilty.
 

On Wednesday, March 23, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a panel discussion featuring Professor Carissa Byrne Hessick on how plea bargaining undermines justice. In her latest book, Punishment Without Trial: Why Plea Bargaining is a Bad Deal, Hessick makes the case against plea bargaining and illustrates why and how we need to fix it if we ever hope to achieve lasting criminal justice reform.
 

Panelists:
Carissa Byrne Hessick, Ransdell Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law Director, Prosecutors and Politics Project
The Honorable Justice Michael Donnelly, Ohio Supreme Court
Ric Simmons, Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Professor for the Administration of Justice and Rule of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Moderator:
Michael Zuckerman, Visiting Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Marijuana reform has been a long-time coming policy priority in the eyes of the nation. It is an issue that has united a number of unlikely allies and deepened divides. There’s no question that marijuana is on track to become fully legalized – the question becomes what happens next? The panelists offered insights into upcoming trends including the good, the bad and inevitable of how a post-legalized America will move forward.


This event was presented by Stand Together Trust at SXSW on March 12, 2022.
 

Panelists:
Douglas A. Berman, Executive Director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
U.S. Representative Nancy Mace

Moderator:
Vikrant Reddy , Senior Fellow for Criminal Justice, Stand Together

On Wednesday, January 26, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Center for New Revenue hosted a panel that explored the evolving theory and practice of cannabis tax policy. Panelists delved into a range of issues including the choice of an effective tax base (weight of flower and trim, THC amount, percentage of price) and the appropriate tax burden. 
 

Panelists
Ulrik Boesen, senior policy analyst, Tax Foundation
Hilary Bricken, attorney, Harris & Bricken
Benjamin Leff, professor, American University Law School
Pat Oglesby, founder, The Center for New Revenue

Moderator:
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

 

A transcript of the event is available for download.

On Tuesday, December 7, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and Harm Reduction Ohio held the second panel in a series on Ohio's opioid settlement. This moderated panel discussion shed light on the details of the settlement. The discussion addressed how settlement proceeds will be divided among participating states, who has the power to determine how the money will be spent in the state of Ohio, the current plans for the state of Ohio, and what communities and individuals impacted by the opioid epidemic can expect to see in the upcoming years.
 

Panelists:
Jonathan Blanton, Deputy Attorney General for Major Litigation, Ohio Attorney General’s Office
Zach Klein, City Attorney, Columbus, Ohio
Christine Minhee, Open Society Foundations Soros Justice Fellow and visiting scholar, University of Washington School of Law

Moderator:
Micah Berman, associate professor, Moritz College of Law and College of Public Health, The Ohio State University

On Thursday, December 2, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Parabola Center hosted a discussion of cannabis residency requirements, the arguments at play, and some considerations and best practices for regulators and people seeking to build better cannabis regulations.

 

Panelists:
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and co-founder, Parabola Center 
Richard Juang, legal director and co-founder, Parabola Center 
Shanel Lindsay, entrepreneurship director, Parabola Center 

On Friday, November 19, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and Natural Therapies Education Foundation hosted a virtual discussion featuring panelists representing current Ohio cannabis reform endeavors. The event provided information about pending initiatives and legislation, as well as a vision of what the future may hold for cannabis in Ohio.

 

Visit our resource page to explore a comparison of marijuana reform proposals in Ohio.

 

Panelists:
Rep. Casey Weinstein, Ohio House of Representatives
Thomas Haren, partner, Frantz Ward
Mary Jane Borden, co-founder and secretary of the board, Natural Therapies Education Foundation
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, The Ohio State University

Moderator:
Douglas A. Berman, Newton D. Baker-Baker & Hostetler Chair in Law, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University

On Wednesday, November 10 the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and Harm Reduction Ohio cohosted the first panel in a series on Ohio's opioid settlement.  The purpose of this panel was to understand how opioid litigation was pursued and the settlements that resulted. The panel looked back at similar litigation, such as the tobacco settlement, to see how the current settlement compares to earlier public health litigation and what lessons can be learned.

 

Panelists:
Micah Berman, associate professor, Moritz College of Law and College of Public Health, The Ohio State University
Tasha Perdue, assistant professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs, The Ohio State University
Patricia J. Zettler, associate professor, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University

Moderator:
Dennis Cauchon, president and founder, Harm Reduction Ohio

On Thursday, October 28, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a presentation by Princeton University History Professor Keith Wailoo, author of Pushing Cool: Big Tobacco, Racial Marketing, and the Untold Story of the Menthol Cigarette. The presentation was followed by a moderated discussion with Dr. Amy Fairchild, Dean of The Ohio State University's College of Public Health. Long seen by the tobacco industry as a consumer segment of consumers ripe for exploitation, urban communities of color have endured decades of deceit and disregard for their health as the targets of menthol cigarette advertising. Menthols comprise some 30 percent of a shrinking tobacco market in the United States. As the industry and its supporters in public office move to protect their profits from a federal ban, Dr. Wailoo offered a detailed account of how advertising firms explicitly capitalized on poverty, alienation, and drug use to carve a menthol market out of urban space. This effort, which started in the 1950s and lasted decades, followed the tobacco industry’s false framing of menthol cigarettes as a safer, even healthful alternative for smokers beginning in the 1920s.

 

Speakers:
Keith Wailoo, Henry Putnam University Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University
Amy Fairchild, dean, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University

Moderator:
Sarah Brady Siff, visiting assistant professor, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University

On October 7-8, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Academy for Justice explored the myriad issues surrounding drug sentencing and its contribution to mass incarceration and mass punishment during this major symposium. In addition to academics, researchers, and advocates discussing sound drug sentencing policies, this event also included judges, current and former prosecutors, defense attorneys, and justice-involved individuals sharing their perspectives on drug sentencing practices.

The Drug Enforcement and Policy Center held the Inaugural 2021 Menard Family Lecture on Drug Policy and Criminal Justice on Thursday, October 7. The event featured Eric H. Holder, Jr., former Attorney General of the United States, and Piper Kerman, social justice advocate and author of Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, and special guests Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Chief U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley for the Southern District of Ohio. This event was held virtually and served as a keynote for the Understanding Drug Sentencing Symposium. The symposium was co-hosted by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center and the Academy for Justice at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

This panel was held Tuesday, September 28, 2021 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. EDT via Zoom. This panel rounds out the theme of the series by considering whether Donald Trump’s departure from past pardoning practices has paved the way for much-needed reforms in the process by which the president gets advice in pardon matters. The proposals our panelists provided are a hopeful sign that the future of the pardon power is brighter than its recent past.


This panel was part of The Future of the President's Pardon Power Series jointly organized by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.
 

Panelists:

Rachel Barkow, vice dean and Charles Seligson Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Jeff Crouch, assistant professor of American politics, School of Public Affairs, American University
Paul J. Larkin Jr., Rumpel Senior Legal Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation 
Margaret Love, executive director, Collateral Consequences Resource Center and former U.S. Pardon Attorney

Moderator:

Douglas Berman, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

This panel was held on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. EDT via Zoom. The panel looked at supplementing, if not supplanting, the pardon power in performing functions that may be better performed by the courts. That is, should at least some of the pardon action be removed to the federal courts through statutory mechanisms to reduce prison sentences and restore rights and status? Did Trump’s departure from past pardoning practices pave the way for moving many of pardon’s functions into the courts, as most states have done?
 

This panel was part of The Future of the President's Pardon Power Series jointly organized by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.
 

Panelists:

Jack Chin, Edward L. Barrett Jr. Chair of Law, Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of Law, and Director of Clinical Legal Education, University of California, Davis, Law School
John Gleeson, attorney and former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Judge Beverly Martin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
JaneAnne Murray, professor of practice, University of Minnesota Law School

Moderator:

Carter Stewart, executive vice president, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio

This panel was held on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. EDT via Zoom. This panel set the stage for the two subsequent panels about the future of presidential pardoning, by asking basic questions about the role of a regular pardon process and the result of its having been sidelined by Trump. Panelists examined the unusual nature of President Donald Trump’s pardoning, looking at the grants themselves and the process that produced them, and considered whether Trump’s pardons were an aberration or the predictable result of trends in pardoning over the past thirty years.
 

This panel was part of The Future of the President's Pardon Power Series jointly organized by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, the Collateral Consequences Resource Center, the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and the David F. and Constance B. Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.
 

Panelists:

Frank Bowman, Floyd R. Gibson Missouri Endowed Professor of Law, University of Missouri School of Law
Bernadette Meyler, Carl and Sheila Spaeth Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
Amy Povah, founder, CAN-DO Justice through Clemency
Kenneth Vogel, New York Times

Moderator:

Margaret Love, executive director, Collateral Consequences Resource Center and former U.S. Pardon Attorney

The National Association of Sentencing Commissions (NASC) and the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center co-hosted a series of virtual sentencing workshops that brought together leaders from sentencing commissions, the judiciary, and academia.

 

"Vetting Wrongful Convictions: Perspective, Approach, and Strategy" was held on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. This moderated panel discussion will focus on how jurisdictions are addressing wrongful convictions. The invited panelists will share their respective approaches to addressing wrongful convictions and candidly discuss which strategies are working and which are falling short. The panel will discuss a variety of approaches such as conviction integrity units and standalone commissions, and provide their thoughts on how to best move forward.

 

Panelists: 
Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser, chief deputy, Conviction Integrity Section, Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General
Valerie Newman, director, Conviction Integrity Unit, Wayne County, Michigan
Lindsey Guice Smith, executive director, North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission
Judge Gene Zmuda, chair, Ohio Task Force on Conviction Integrity and Postconviction Review

Moderator:
John Hollway, executive director, Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice

Despite enthusiasm from policymakers and hard work by government regulators, many feel that the promise of social equity in the cannabis industry remains elusive. The obstacles are numerous, ranging from legal challenges, to difficulties with implementation, to weak policy provisions. Is it time to rethink cannabis social equity?

 

On Wednesday, June 9, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual event that brought together a panel of experts who are imagining a different framework to achieve the goal of healing the harms of past prohibition and lift communities affected by the War on Drugs. Panelists discussed ways to expand the horizons of how we achieve social equity.

 

Panelists:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
Amber Marks, lawyer and lecturer, Queen Mary University of London
Cat Packer ’15, executive director, Department of Cannabis Regulation, City of Los Angeles
Dan Riffle ’03, policy analyst, District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health

Moderator:
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and vice-chair, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition

 

A transcript of the event is available for download.

The National Association of Sentencing Commissions (NASC) and the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center co-hosted a series of virtual sentencing workshops that brought together leaders from sentencing commissions, the judiciary, and academia.

 

"Justice Counts: Using Data to Inform Policy and Bolster Public Safety" was held on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. This moderated panel discussion will focus on a new national initiative designed to help states make criminal justice data more accessible, clear, and usable for policymakers. Backed by a coalition of 21 national partner organizations and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Justice Counts brings together state and local leaders to reach consensus about a limited set of criminal justice metrics that leaders can use to inform budget and policy decisions. The initiative also includes a scan of public, aggregate-level criminal justice data and identifies existing gaps in data reporting.

 

Panelists:
Megan Grasso, deputy program director, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Sarah Lee, policy analyst, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Carl Reynolds, senior legal and policy advisor, The Council of State Governments Justice Center
Ken Sanchagrin, executive director, Oregon Criminal Justice Commission
Scott Schultz, executive director, Kansas Sentencing Commission

Moderator:
Bennet Wright, executive director, Alabama Sentencing Commission

In recent years, social equity has become a routine part of conversations surrounding cannabis legalization. Yet, despite the stated goals of political leaders and various efforts of multiple states, challenges with implementing robust social equity programs persist.

 

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual panel event that brought together experts from states whose recent cannabis legalizations include social equity provisions. Panelists discussed their state’s experience, lessons learned, and focus areas for federal legislators and regulators as they begin considering cannabis legalization nationwide.

 

Panelists:
Dianna Houenou, senior policy advisor and associate counsel, Office of the Governor, State of New Jersey, and incoming chair, New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission
Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor for cannabis control, Office of the Governor, State of Illinois
Jason Ortiz, president, Minority Cannabis Business Association, and board member, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Shaleen Title, distinguished cannabis policy practitioner in residence, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, and vice-chair, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition

Moderator:
Natalie Fertig, federal cannabis policy reporter, POLITICO

 

A transcript of the event is available for download.

The purpose of this invitation-only symposium held March 16, 2021 was to educate advocates, congressional staff, administration officials, and scholars about the possibility that classwide scheduling of fentanyl analogues will yield unintended consequences, and to highlight evidence-based alternatives that can help reduce overdose deaths. Participants learned about the relationship between classwide scheduling and public health policy approaches to dealing with fentanyl analogues and overdose. Participants were presented with an intersectional discussion of the issue that examines classwide scheduling and its impact on the criminal legal system, racial inequities, scientific research, medicine, and evidence-based drug policy.

Ohio has a long history of criminal justice reform and drug sentencing reform, and yet few can be pleased that Ohio still has the 12th highest incarceration rate in the country and one of the highest rates of overdose deaths. With the passage of HB1 and the failure of SB3 at the end of 2020, many are left wondering what can and cannot be achieved through legislative reforms in Ohio.

 

On February 24, 2021, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center hosted a virtual event focused on Ohio’s recent reform history, what we might expect in the near future, and how research and experience in other states can inform reform efforts in the Buckeye State.

 

Panelists:
Sara Andrews, executive director of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission
Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist at the ACLU of Ohio
Micah Derry, state director for the Ohio chapter of Americans for ProsperityAndrew Geisler, legal fellow at The Buckeye Institute
Kyle Strickland, deputy director of race and democracy at the Roosevelt Institute and senior legal analyst at Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity

Moderators:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center
Alex Fraga, senior research associate at the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center

The 2020 election had a significant impact on how the United States addresses a broad range of policy issues, and drug enforcement and policy is no exception. Numerous states approved medical or full marijuana legalization via ballot initiative, and voters in other states weighed in on drug-related criminal justice ballot initiatives. At the federal level, marijuana reform has been gaining momentum and federal officials will undoubtedly take cues from the nationwide election results to determine the pace of reform on an array of drug enforcement and policy issues.

 

On November 16, 2020, our panel of experts discussed the 2020 election results and what they are likely to mean for drug enforcement and policy at both the state and federal level.

 

Speakers:
John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management and a senior fellow in Governance Studies, Brookings Institution
Maritza Perez, director of the Office of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance
Tamar Todd, legal director, New Approach PAC

Moderator:
Douglas A. Berman, executive director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center