Listening to a radio program last week, the radio personality who I thought for the most part was level headed, made the statement that he supports Issue 1 because the person who takes illegal drugs “only affects themselves.” What a false statement; a person who is taking illegal drugs not only affect themselves, but their family, co-workers and the public, just to name a few. The public is affected if you operate a motor vehicle under the influence; an obvious danger. In overdose situations, first responders are exposed to drug residues and may not be able to respond to another situation that could occur at the same time. And most burglaries and theft in Shelby County are related to the need for drug money. Co-workers and employers are affected with under productivity and safety concerns. Families have taken the brunt of illegal drug use, both financially and broken relationships. In Shelby County during my term as a county commissioner, children who have been separated from their parents due to illegal drug usage and placed with other family members or into foster care are not successfully reunited with their parents. In fact, in those six years, we have only been able to reunite two children with their parent — a very sad statistic.
The fact that we have not been able to reunite children with their parents leads to another comment that I heard at a meeting the other day. “The stick approach has not worked. Let’s try something else.” Issue 1 is relying on the person addicted to drugs to voluntarily seek help. What more incentive could you have to seek addiction help than to reunite your family? Sadly that is not the case. Shelby County has been trying other options to help persons who are in the county jail, including medically assisted treatment, counseling, job programs and soon the STAR House facility.
While I totally agree that more funds are needed for the opiate crisis here at the local level, Issue 1 is not the way to accomplish that need. The savings from less jail time is up for debate due to the potential of shifting the burden to counties and cities from the state of Ohio. Issue 1 is a change to the Constitution of the state of Ohio. There are no do overs, in that the legislature cannot fix problems. The only fix is to have another ballot issue. On Nov. 6, I urge you to Vote “NO” on Issue 1.
The writer is a Shelby County Commissioner.