Criminal Justice

New Legislation Further Criminalizes Drug Use, Adds to Prison Time


Ohio legislators feed mass incarceration by introducing bills that would send more people to our jails and prison for longer periods of time.

Learn more about the Statehouse-to-Prison Pipeline and our commentary about Ohio’s criminalizing drug use and the War on Drugs.

This year, Ohio legislators have already introduced three bills that would expand penalties and sentences for drug use so far this year. SB 1, HB 4, and SB 42 further criminalize drug use, which should be treated through public health methods like rehabilitation, treatment, and education. These misguided bills continue to fill our already-overcrowded prisons and jails, without helping Ohioans.

SB 1: Revise Drug Laws

  • Primary Sponsor: Senator Frank LaRose (R)
  • Status: Approved by the Senate
  • Summary: SB 1 will increase penalties for fentanyl, including low-level possession, and treat mixtures added to fentanyl the same as fentanyl for sentencing purposes. Learn more.

HB 4: Prescribe how cocaine is to be measured for offense

  • Primary Sponsors: Representative Robert Cupp (R), Representative John Rogers (D)
  • Status: Passed House (97-0); Currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Summary: HB 4 will change how cocaine is measured for determining trafficking and possession sentences, and treat mixtures added to cocaine (like baking soda) the same as cocaine for sentencing purposes. Learn more.

SB 42: Specify that referring to a drug also refers to compounds

  • Primary Sponsor: Senator John Eklund (R)
  • Status: As Introduced; Currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Summary: SB 42 will expand drug offense penalties to compounds and mixtures – treating mixtures added to drugs the same as the actual drug. Learn more.

Posted to Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, General Civil Liberties, Juvenile Justice, Racial Justice.