A father whose his son died from a drug overdose is featured in a new commercial aired by the campaign behind Issue 1 appearing on Ohioans' ballots in the Nov. 6 election.

The 30-second spot from Vote Yes on 1 centers on Rich Hughes, of New Franklin in Summit County, talking about the drug addiction that ultimately claimed his son, Garrett.

"It was very painful to watch my son struggle with addiction. The saddest day in my life was the day that I got the phone call that my son had died. What my son Garrett needed wasn't punishment. He needed treatment. I support Issue 1 because I like to think that if Garrett would have gotten treatment earlier that we would all be better off for it," Hughes says.

Voter approval of Issue 1, a constitutional amendment, would reclassify low-level felonies for drug use and possession to misdemeanors carrying no time behind bars in favor of routing addicts to treatment.

Savings from deterring people from prison would be routed to better funding treatment programs amid Ohio's still-rising level of drug overdose deaths, which spiraled 20 percent last year.

Another provision would cut up to 25 percent off the prison sentences of felons, excluding murderers, rapists and child molesters, if they participate in rehabilitative and educational program.

The issue has drawn widespread opposition from organizations representing police, prosecutors and judges. They contend Issue 1 would rob judges of sentencing flexibility and undermine Ohio drug courts that would lose their ability to hold the threat of a prison sentence over the heads of addicts placed on probation and sent to treatment programs.

The issue also has drawn battle lines between the major-party candidates for governor. Republican Mike DeWine opposes the measure while Democrat Richard Cordray is supportive.

rludlow@dispatch.com

@RandyLudlow