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Ohio Senate considers bill to ease penalties, increase treatment for low-level drug possession

The Ohio Senate is considering landmark legislation that would lessen the penalties for low-level drug possession charges and increase options for addiction treatment instead of criminal convictions (Source: ”Lawmakers may ease penalties, increase treatment for drug possession,” Dayton Daily News, June 24, 2020).

Senate Bill 3 calls for reducing low-level, non-violent drug possession charges to misdemeanors, down from felonies. Drug trafficking offenses would remain felonies. The legislation also calls for allowing judges to put a criminal possession case on hold while the defendant goes through court-ordered treatment and then dismiss the case if treatment is successfully completed.

The bill would also expand circumstances in which someone may apply to have their criminal records sealed. Criminal records often make it more difficult to get hired.

Late last year, HPIO released  "Ohio Addiction Policy Inventory and Scorecard: Law Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System," the third in a series of inventories and scorecards analyzing Ohio's policy response to the addiction crisis and outlining areas where the state could be more effective. The new report provides policymakers and other stakeholders with the information needed to take stock of Ohio's policy response to addiction within the law enforcement and criminal justice sectors.