Dover, Ohio - The Board of Directors of Community Mental Healthcare is taking a strong stance against Ohio Issue 1.
Last month, the agency's governing board voted to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment that would classify offenses of obtaining, possessing, or using any drug or controlled substance as misdemeanors and prohibit judges from sentencing those offenders to jail time until their third offense within 24 months.
The stance is a break from tradition for the agency, which has historically refrained from supporting or opposing political issues.
“This issue is too important for us to stand on the sidelines and not take a firm position,” explained CMH Executive Director JJ Boroski.
Board Chairman Gerry Mroczkowski said the board feels that the issue, if passed, will harm lives. "As a local leader in behavioral health and substance abuse services, we need to do our job and educate the community,” he said.
Boroski said that the agency recognizes that reform is needed but does not believe that amending the Constitution is the appropriate way to achieve this goal.
“CMH is very supportive of expanding access to those who need substance abuse treatment but the way this proposal is written does not achieve the expressed intent. CMH believes Issue 1 does not go far enough in protecting the public as many offenses will carry lighter sentences and will also undermine the proven effectiveness of local diversion programs and Drug Courts. We have local treatment options that have proven to be effective. This amendment does not require treatment, nor does it provide for any additional treatment options to improve timely access," he said. "Ultimately, this is an unfunded mandate that allows the offender to decide if treatment is required or not."