Christine Stenquist, Utah House District 17

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Why did you decide to run for public office?

Having dealt with my own health care experience, I began my advocacy work focusing on issues of health care and medical cannabis. From this work and from conversations with neighbors, I saw that too often our state legislature ignores the will of the people, and fails to solve the real problems faced by everyday Utahns. I decided to run to ensure that those voices would be heard. 

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

I began my professional career working for Lakeview Hospital as a Phlebotomist Manager, and then Assistant Director of Industrial Medicine. However, when diagnosed with a brain tumor my career path was largely placed on hold until my health allowed me to return to work. Eventually, I found my way to working on community outreach with Crossroads Urban Center and the Coalition of Religious Communities. Ultimately, I decided to press for change on issues of health care and medical cannabis, leading me to work with Drug Policy Project of Utah and TRUCE.

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

I have been advocating on reforming our drug policies on a state and federal level for the past few years. 

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

Yes, I support the creation of a medical cannabis program. I believe that the safe and legitimate medical uses of cannabis should be available to Utah doctors and patients to alleviate the suffering of various conditions where studies show it would have a positive impact.

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

Some initial steps I would take if elected include: providing naloxone to first responders, beefing up our prescription drug monitoring systems, and funding better treatment programs. These measures should also take place as part of a broader conversation about criminal justice reforms to treat addiction as a health issue, rather than viewing drug use as a solely criminal issue. 

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

Yes, I agree with this analysis. Our policies should be evaluated to determine whether they are effective and truly serve the interests of people. 

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

I am familiar with, and have advocated for a greater focus on, harm reduction policies. Our drug policies should be geared toward the realistic objectives of harm reduction, proactive education, and effective treatment.

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

Generally, I would support the decriminalization of minor possession of cannabis. 

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?

Yes, I would be interested in sponsoring drug policy reform legislation if elected. My primary focus would be on medicinal use for those patients whose quality of life could be vastly improved. As I've learned, the legislative process can be messy, but I would endeavor to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Anything else?

The issues raised in this survey have been at the forefront of my advocacy work and will continue to be if I am elected.