Dorothy Engelman, Utah State Senate District 29

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Why did you decide to run for public office?

There are many people in southern Utah whose voices are not being heard in the State Legislature, and I want to be their voices in Salt Lake City. Many of the constituents in Senate 29 are not native Utahns and have more progressive ideas and concepts of government. I believe that I can take their concerns to the Senate and push for changes in many antiquated policies and procedures in this state. 

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

I'm currently employed as the Executive Director of the Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation, which provides housing and resources to survivors of domestic violence in southern Utah. After arriving in St. George in 2009, I became involved in the wonderful non-profit community serving those who are often overlooked or ignored; first as a volunteer for a hospice company, then eventually becoming their Volunteer Coordinator, and then serving on the Board of the Downtown Farmers Market, Red Rock Center for Independence, and the Erin Kimball Foundation. 
My earlier career was as a teacher in Michigan, concentrating on at-risk and special needs students. All of these positions added to my listening skills, the ability to see the bigger picture, collaboration and cooperation competence, and desire to make life better for those who find it difficult. 

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

I served on the Washington County Prevention Coalition, which provides substance abuse prevention and education on a local level. During my teaching career, many of my students had substance abuse issues and I worked to utilize best practices in our school's policy. I support medical cannabis and will work toward changing the laws in Utah as did Sen. Steve Urquhart, who currently is the Senator from Senate 29. I look forward to becoming more knowledgeable about current research and the goals of DPPU. 

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

Too many people are suffering when they could find comfort and relief with medical cannabis.  Both of my parents suffered from chronic pain for many years and they would have benefitted if medical cannabis had been available. Research has shown it is helpful in various medical circumstances, and I believe these studies should continue. Medical cannabis needs to be legalized under control circumstances and studies should continue. It is a valid treatment for chronic illnesses and disease, and I will work to establish a medical cannabis program in Utah when elected. 

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

It is necessary to crack down on the prescribers who write frivolous Rx's for those who doctor-hop, and it makes sense for there to be a statewide database of known users and doctors who abuse the system. The widespread use of opioids must be curtailed through rigorous education and rehabilitation before there will be a reduction. I don't have any personal experience with this. 

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

I totally agree with this statement. Too many lives are ruined by actions within the criminal system for drug involvement; this is particularly true of our youth. It's more effective to address substance abuse as an addiction concern through the medical system and public health perspectives. 

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

I support the above policy and will work to make this a reality. 

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

This is a difficult question for me as I saw the effects of cannabis use on the students I taught. I would support decriminalization for adults, but not for those under 21. I am comfortable with it being a civil matter vs. criminal; I do have concerns how this would impact our youth. I look forward to familiarizing myself with the current research and data in this area. 

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. My first priority is the creation of a medical cannabis program in Utah as this would have a positive impact on our suffering citizens.  

Anything else?

Senator Urquhart (Senate 29) has been a strong proponent of medical cannabis and I will continue to work to change the current laws when elected. I look forward to hearing from my constituents regarding their position and personal experience in this area.