The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation board of trustees has announced the organization’s opposition to State Issue 1.
The Farm Bureau, Ohio’s largest organization for farm, food and rural interests, believes Issue 1 is not a viable approach to the state’s opioid crisis.
“Our state and county Farm Bureaus have been at the forefront of drug abuse prevention in rural Ohio,” said Frank Burkett III, a dairy farmer and president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “We’ve dug deeply into understanding Ohio’s massive drug problems. Issue 1 runs counter to much of what our members believe are effective steps to reducing the impact of drugs on our communities.”
The organization also believes that a constitutional amendment is not the best mechanism for addressing Ohio’s addiction and drug trafficking problems, especially when the initiative is funded by large out-of-state interests.
Farm Bureau trustees also were concerned that Issue 1 would harm the Ohio court system’s ability to effectively deal with illegal drugs. Further, they feel Issue 1 could be a heavy burden on Ohio taxpayers with few assurances of positive results. Other concerns expressed by the Farm Bureau include negative impacts on crime rates and on the availability of a reliable workforce.
“Farm Bureau joins with law enforcement, judges and prosecutors, prevention agencies, business groups, elected officials, leading editorial boards and others to encourage Ohioans to vote no on State Issue 1,” Burkett said. “We need solutions to the drug crisis, but Issue 1 is not the answer."
Issue 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at reducing penalties for crimes of obtaining, possessing, and using illegal drugs.
It was proposed by Initiative Petition to add a new Section 12 to Article XV of the Constitution of the State of Ohio. A majority yes vote is necessary for the amendment to pass.
If adopted, the amendment would:
• Require sentence reductions of incarcerated individuals, except individuals incarcerated for murder, rape, or child molestation, by up to 25% if the individual participates in rehabilitative, work, or educational programming.
• Mandate that criminal offenses of obtaining, possessing, or using any drug such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and other controlled substances cannot be classified as a felony, but only a misdemeanor.
• Prohibit jail time as a sentence for obtaining, possessing, or using such drugs until an individual’s third offense within 24 months.
• Allow an individual convicted of obtaining, possessing, or using any such drug prior to the effective date of the amendment to ask a court to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor, regardless of whether the individual has completed the sentence.
• Require any available funding, based on projected savings, to be applied to state-administered rehabilitation programs and crime victim funds. • Require a graduated series of responses, such as community service, drug treatment, or jail time, for minor, non-criminal probation violations.