From Punishment to Public Health: Leading National Experts on Drug Overdose Crisis Join Together For Cutting-Edge Conference in Columbus, Ohio

Press Release September 25, 2018

COLUMBUS – The U.S. is in midst of a preventable crisis, with accidental overdose deaths rapidly rising each year.  Ohio is at the epicenter, ranking second in the nation in drug overdose death rates, which translates into nearly 12 Ohioans losing their lives to accidental overdose each day.

On September 27 & 28, leading national experts will convene at The Ohio State University for an innovative conference, “From Punishment to Public Health: Embracing Evidence-Based Solutions to the Overdose Crisis.”  A wide range of distinguished speakers will explore the impact of criminal justice laws and policies in compounding the harms of drug use, including overdose deaths, and offer an alternative framework rooted in evidence, compassion, and the principles of harm reduction.

“What’s frustrating – and gives reason for hope – is that overdose deaths are largely preventable and can be significantly reduced by implementing effective, evidence-based drug policies,” said Lindsay LaSalle, director of public health law and policy at the Drug Policy Alliance.  “Now is the time to reduce the role of criminalization in drug policy, so that people can come out of the shadows and get the help they want.  This conference is a first step in moving toward proven, health-centered treatment and harm reduction approaches to problematic drug use and overdose in Ohio.”

“This conference comes at a crucial time for Ohio. Our prisons and jails are bursting at the seams-hovering near 130% capacity. For far too long, addiction has been viewed through a criminal justice lens when it’s really a public health concern. Our legislators have stalled on long overdue reforms, and now we have Issue 1 on the ballot.  The time is ripe to discuss a new vision for a safe and healthy Ohio,” said Jocelyn Rosnick, policy director for the ACLU of Ohio.

The conference is hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Harm Reduction Ohio, and the ACLU of Ohio, in partnership with the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health and The Ohio State University College of Public Health. 

From Punishment to Public Health: Embracing Evidence-Based Solutions to the Overdose Crisis
Location: Saxby Auditorium, Moritz College of Law
See conference agenda

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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