Joe Buchman, Utah State Senate District 14

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Why did you decide to run for public office?

I want my great-grandchildren to be proud of my stand for more liberty and less government.  The course we are on will lead to a kind of future that I do not want for them. Freedom, property rights, competition, profit-seeking, real (not crony) capitalism (the kind where both sides of an exchange say "THANK YOU" to the other), will give them the kind of life the founders of this nation wished for us, and which we are sadly losing.

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

I am a life-long Libertarian. I earned a BS in marketing, and a PhD in mass communications from Indiana University as well as an MBA in finance from Purdue. My wife, Cindy, and I bought our home here in Alpine in 1997. We have four children, the oldest an MD and the youngest a junior at the University of Utah. From 1993 to 1999 I served as a professor of marketing at what is now UVU.

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

My father was an MD, my mother a surgical nurse, my wife is a clinical laboratory scientist, our oldest daughter is an MD and our son is a pharmacy technician. While I have never used any drugs (other than those prescribed by my physician) I am calling for an end to prohibition.  Substance abuse is, or should be, a medical NOT a criminal issue. Cannabis has been proven to have medicinal value and never should have been schedule one. The so called "War on Drugs" which is, in reality, a war on otherwise innocent people who use drugs, was initiated by President Nixon to suppress the anti-Vietnam War left. Alcohol prohibition did not work and neither has drug prohibition. The results of this war are increased crime, death from poisonous products and the lost productivity of those jailed for nonviolent, otherwise noncriminal use.

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

Yes. Cannabinoids should be studied for their medicinal value. Terminally ill patients should have a Right to Try anything that might benefit or succor them. As a fundamental right of Self Ownership, governments should not prohibit or classify as criminal behavior what any human being chooses to consume under the care of their physician or in the privacy of their own home. Treating dangerous drug (or food or other consumables) use as a medical issue –  decriminalizing – has been proven to reduce use, reduce death and reduce suffering, and benefit those nations where drugs are available in the same way beer and wine are available here.

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

Prescription opioid use/abuse has been shown to DROP DRAMATICALLY in those areas where cannabis is legal/available. Some wonder and/or suggest that it is Big Pharma, supported by the FDA, that has created a drug law policy designed to protect profits rather than to give those who suffer relief from what are currently illegal, but proven efficacious, drugs – especially cannabinoids. DMT and other drugs are also being studied as beneficial for PTSD among our returning veterans, who likewise should have a Right to Try anything that they and their medical care providers conclude could prove beneficial.

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

I wholeheartedly agree. As someone who earned a research-oriented, human-subjects-based, PhD, this seems obvious. Yet our "War on Drugs" continues at great taxpayer cost, our prisons overflow with otherwise innocent drug users, our police force is distracted from real crime prevention, and our politicians pander to the unreasoned worst-case fears of what LIBERTY in this area of our lives might create, rather than focus on what Liberty has been proven to be able to grant as her proven blessings.

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

Alcohol prohibition caused tremendous harm in the form of poisonous products, death and suffering, and the vast expansion of organized crime. Drug prohibition has had a similar consequence. Drug users should NOT fear their physicians or fear hospital treatment. Easy access to clean needles reduce harm both to users, their friends and contacts, and taxpayers.

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

As a Libertarian, my politics (a branch of philosophy) are rooted in two core principles: The Non-Initiation of Aggression (no human being has the right to initiate force or fraud against another, no matter how "good" the ends might seem), and The Self-Ownership Principle, either you have the RIGHT to do as you see best for your physical body (meaning eat, drink, smoke, inject, have sex with) or your physical body belongs to a collective (the government); the latter is in essence slavery. I am anti-slavery. One should have the right to use any drug one chooses, so long as it then does not result in a violation of the first, NAP, principle – no physical violence against another or their property (or imminent risk of that – such as drunk driving).  Governments should decriminalize all non-victim VICES. VICE is not crime.

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. Senator Madsen is not running for reelection in District 13.  I am running for election as a Utah State Senator in District 14, and I would very much like to be known for inheriting, carrying on, and expanding his legacy.

Anything else?

Filling out this form has left me more excited, more passionate and more committed to LIBERTY for all, and especially for that future I was explicating in my answer to your first question.  THANK YOU.