Fregiato speaks out against Ohio Issue 1

T-L Photo/ADAM TYCHONSKI Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato addresses a crowd Thursday evening at the We The People Ohio Valley meeting. Fregiato spoke on his opinion of Ohio’s Issue 1.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato gave his opinion Thursday night on Ohio’s Issue 1 during a We The People Ohio Valley meeting.

Fregiato said from the start that he is completely against Issue 1. He said the proposed constitutional amendment would eliminate jail time for first and second offenses for drug-related crimes, which would prohibit judges from being able to use the full scope of their authority on those offenses. The judge said he believes many Ohio voters won’t understand what it is they are voting on.

“The idea sounds wonderful on paper,” Fregiato said. “It’s called the Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Amendment. But the practical side won’t work.”

Fregiato broke down his stance on the issue. He said on the technical side, it’s an amendment to the state constitution, not just a statute. That means if the new amendment does not work as planned, it would require a new election to change it.

“Penal codes should not be a part of the constitution,” Fregiato said.

Fregiato also spoke on figures he got from the Supreme Court of Ohio. Figures show that 95.5 percent of funding for Issue 1’s campaign is from out-of-state sources, including Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros.

He continued by saying drug-related issues lead to other crimes and even death. The judge also said that as drug problems mount, taxes can go up, too.

“A user is only worried about their next hit,” Fregiato said. “They are not worried about seeking rehab or help. You cannot tell them they need help, they won’t understand. But if you threaten jail time, they will understand.”

Fregiato used the metaphor of the carrot on the stick to explain his position. He said rehabilitation is the carrot and the consequence is the stick. He said voting for Issue 1 would take away the stick.

“Drugs such as heroin, cocaine, the date rape drug, LSD will all be misdemeanors,” Fregiato said.

Fregiato explained to the crowd that it will be a misdemeanor for someone to carry 20 grams of fentanyl. He then said it only takes 19 grams to kill 10,000 people. The judge said Ohio will be one of the most lenient states in the U.S. on drug crimes if the issue passes.

“If there is no threat of jail time for drug crimes, who do you think is going to come to Ohio?” Fregiato asked the crowd.

Fregiato said the idea behind the issue, of rehabilitating drug users, is a good one. But without the threat of jail, no one will stay in rehab, he said.

“I am in the trenches every day,” Fregiato said. “I see this stuff first hand. Issue 1 will not work.”