Jennifer Graviet, State School Board District 4

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Why did you decide to run for public office?

I am running for the office of state school board, because I want a teacher on the board.

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

I have taught junior high school English for over 20 years. I have bachelor's degrees in both English and psychology, and I have a master's degree in psychology.

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

I have limited experience with drug policy and substance abuse, but we do get periodic training as teachers. I've also dealt with students who have substance abuse issues.

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

I support the creation of a medical cannabis program, as long as it is highly regulated and does not increase cannabis use among teenagers.

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 experiences with overdoses, although I have known a few people who overdosed. I think education is key.

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

I think that laws governing substances, like cannabis and opiate-based drugs, should reflect a public health perspective. Many people who use and abuse these substances do so, because they originally needed help. To me, a public health perspective is about education.

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

I have heard of harm reduction, but I have no experience with harm reduction policies. I agree that we need to advocate reducing the harms of drug use through a lens of public health, using accurate, fact-driven drug education, etc. The students I teach respond to facts and research, rather than scare tactics.

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

I have mixed feelings about the decriminalization of cannabis. I think we need more research. I am seeing the effects of cannabis use by teenagers, and it is not good. Teenagers believe that because cannabis is decriminalized in some states that cannabis is "healthy," and they tend to abuse it. More focus needs to be put on educating what happens to the teenage brain when cannabis is used. On the other hand, I think a civil fine is more appropriate for cannabis possession rather than criminal arrest.

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?

In my position on the school board, I would be unable to sponsor drug policy legislation. However, I see a need for education in our schools, and I would support that.

Anything else?

I am in favor of research, research, research. Let's learn, so that we can help people. Making the world a better place is what life is all about.