Bob Buckles

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Why did you decide to run for public office?

I do not agree with the policy decisions of the Republicans in the Utah State Legislature, including my opponent. I favor increasing funding for education, seriously addressing the Wasatch Front air quality issues, expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, and improving worker wages, rights and benefits.

What is your background? Profession, skills, etc.? 

Worked for 33 years for the Air Force in logistics before retiring from Hill AFB. Now active in politics and other volunteer activities, including, a member of Clinton City Planning Commission, volunteer work at Davis County Hospital, and occasional driver in American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program.

What is your general experience with drug policy and substance abuse? 

Some experience with family members who were addicted to alcohol. Not very much experience or knowledge with other substance abuse beyond reading.

Do you support the creation of a medical cannabis program? Can you expand upon your general feelings about medical cannabis?

Yes. Based on what I have read and knowing some people who have used marijuana, both for medicinal and recreational uses, I believe cannabis products have medicinal value while being much less dangerous than other drugs, such as alcohol. There is no reason not to take advantage of its medicinal value like any other pharmaceutical drug.

What steps would you take to reduce the number of overdose deaths? Do you have any personal experiences with overdose?

I do not have any personal experience with overdose. My opinion is that use of any drug, including opioids, has beneficial uses, but that they must be carefully balanced with potential hazard awareness, including addiction. Education to the public is the first step in reducing hazards. Reasonable controls to make overuse more difficult are also appropriate. I consider drug addiction in general to be a form of mental illness rather than violent criminal behavior. So focus should be on treatment to overcome addiction; encouraging an environment that reduces temptation and addressing other conditions leading to addiction.

Do you agree with this analysis? Please feel free to elaborate.

Yes, I generally agree with it and to repeat my previous statement, I consider drug addiction in general to be a mental health issue, not to be addressed as a willful criminal act.  

Are you familiar with the principle of harm reduction? Do you have any experience with harm reduction policies? Please feel free to elaborate.

I would not say I have much direct experience with harm reduction policies except with respect to the use of alcohol. In general, I agree with these statements. When the US abandoned prohibition of alcohol as unmanageable, it basically accepted these principles with regard to that drug. I believe the same management approach is appropriate for most, if not all, other recreational drug use.

What are your general thoughts on the decriminalization of cannabis? Please elaborate.

I favor complete decriminalization of the possession of cannabis. Controls on the sale and distribution should be a civil process with the only criminal prosecution limited to flagrant disregard for sales to minors, tax avoidance, or distributing an "unsafe" product (equivalent of selling beer with toxic ingredients or 10 times listed alcohol content). I also think it might be appropriate to make distributors liable for harmful effects resulting from their products (example: partial liability in an auto accident caused by impaired driving from drug use). This would discourage most businesses from engaging in the distribution of questionable drugs without involving criminal sanctions.

Are you interested in sponsoring drug policy reform legislation if you were elected? What would be some specific areas of focus or interest for you?

It is not a top priority for my campaign. Having said that, I would not hesitate to support reasonable legislation to reduce or eliminate unnecessary and counterproductive criminal penalties for cannabis possession.

Anything else?

In 1918 the US prohibited alcohol for recreational use. Instead of eliminating the use of alcohol, it created a vast illegal industry with the violence and other crimes generated by the distribution of a contraband product. We are confronted with a similar problem today with the cannabis industry. Enormous research to prove how dangerous cannabis is, has instead demonstrated that it is less hazardous to the public than alcohol and maybe similar to tobacco as a health risk in a smoking form. It is time that we accept this information and regulate cannabis like we regulate those other two legal drugs. We should also have a similar approach to most other recreational drugs, focusing on health concerns, and leaving the criminal justice system to address actual crimes against people and property, instead of sometimes questionable, but usually harmless, personal behavior.