Tamara Karel


In the summer of 2002, proponents of Issue 1 "The Ohio Drug Treatment Initiative," (hereafter referred to as the Initiative) succeeded in getting the proposal on the November ballot. The Initiative proposed an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would have required courts to approve requests for treatment when made by eligible nonviolent drug offenders. The Amendment sought to (1) allocate a fixed amount of the state's General Revenue Fund to pay for the opening and operating of new treatment centers, (2) limit prison sentences for users and possessors to ninety days, and (3) provide for the sealing and expungement of records for those offenders who completed treatment. With so much emphasis being placed on the need for treatment and prevention why did Ohioans reject The Ohio Drug Treatment Initiative? This note seeks to answer this complicated question. Section II summarizes the Initiative power, how it came to be, and how it has been used in Ohio. Section III describes the Initiative in detail and explains current statutes that provide for treatment in lieu of incarceration. The final section analyzes why the Initiative failed and suggests some likely consequences had the Initiative been ratified.