Chelsea Travis, Utah House District 35

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1) Why did you decide to run for public office?

I have been active in the Utah Libertarian Party for several years. I felt it necessary to give the voters a choice of a candidate who supports individual rights against the power of the state. We need fewer jails and prisons and more efforts to support the rights of individual citizens to live their own lives.

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

I am a legal secretary for a small firm involved in criminal defense and civil rights cases. I am also the Treasurer of the Utah Libertarian Party.

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

I have watched the “war on drugs” slowly destroy the lives of many young people in Utah. A simple possession if a small amount of marijuana results in the loss of a drivers license, loss of student loans, often the loss of a job or an apartment, and quite possibly an action by DCFS to remove children. All of that is nonsensical, and is bad public policy. Marijuana use is not likely to require treatment. If harder drugs are involved, the State should stress treatment over prosecution. People addicted to dangerous drugs should be treated like any other people with medical problems.

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

I support medical cannabis. I go beyond that, however, and believe in decriminalization of possession and use.

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

Decriminalization of simple possession would allow people to seek treatment without fear of prosecution. We also need to educate people on the dangers of opiates in particular. We should make Naloxone available to family members and others involved with those who may have addiction problems, in order to provide immediate intervention if necessary. Yes, I had a family member lose his battle with addiction; and it has caused much emotional injury to those who loved him.

Utah is facing an opioid overdose epidemic that is among the highest in the country. In June of 2015 Utah ranked 5in the nation for drug overdose fatalities.

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

I absolutely agree that drug policy should be public health policy, and should not concentrate on

the criminal process. The “war on drugs” has been a disaster, and has been responsible for the fact that the United States incarcerates a larger percentage of its people than any other country. That needs to stop now.

7) Are you familiar with the principle of harm reduction?

Yes. Harm reduction emphasizes education and treatment to deal with problematic drug use. This should be the way to deal with the national drug abuse problem. The “war on drugs” is exactly the wrong way to do it, because it makes people afraid to admit to their problem.

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

I advocate legalization and regulation similar to Colorado. Utah will soon be surrounded by states that have some form of legalization. We can not maintain prohibition under those circumstances.

9) Are you interested in sponsoring drug policy reform legislation if you were elected?

See answers to previous questions.

10) Would you like to add anything else?

There are certain things that the government should not get involved in. Personal choices regarding the use of marijuana is one of them. When talking about dangerous drugs, the government should emphasize education and treatment. 

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