Bills working their way through the Ohio Legislature would reduce punishment for some drug crimes while favoring treatment over automatic prosecution.
A proposal passed by the House last month expands the use of a program allowing judges to order treatment instead of prosecution for defendants facing low-level drug charges. Judges could deny treatment requests but would have to list reasons why they feel jail, fines or both are a better option.
The legislation would also make it easier for Ohioans to seal records involving low-level nonviolent and non-sexual offenses to help them move forward with their lives.
A pending Senate bill would reduce low-level drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and also allow treatment instead of prosecution. The court could put the misdemeanor cases on hold until offenders undergo treatment.