Kyle Waters, Utah House District 51

Why did you decide to run for public office?

I believe in self-reliance through education, health, and opportunity. Drug policy touch on all three of these issues. We need to make sure doctors and patients are educated about drugs.  We need to fund treatment and research on drug addiction, and we need to make sure people with drug convictions can find jobs.

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

While my primary background is technology, I work as a software engineer, I also have volunteered with various non-profits and consider myself a strong advocate for mental health in Utah.

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

My experience with drug policy and substance abuse is only through personal acquaintance with people who have been affected, especially the harm that is done by felony convictions and removal from support structures.

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

Yes. I believe cannabis can be an important alternative to more common addictive pain killers.

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

Expand mental health treatment. Consider drug overdose immunity laws.

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

Yes.  We need to move to treating drug addiction as a public health problem. Felony charges for drug possession create significant barriers to drug addicts being able to move on and find gainful employment. Utah has started down this path, but we need to continue by securing the funding for addiction treatment programs. 

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 policies of harm reduction. Harm reduction benefits both the public at large, as well as those dealing with addiction.

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

Removing drug users from gainful employment and support structures is generally more harmful to society than helpful. I support moving to fines rather than imprisonment for possession.

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 am very interested in promoting better access to mental health programs and in reducing penalties for possession.

Anything else?

Most of us have had someone close to us experience the difficulties of addiction. I promise a compassionate approach, that focuses on maximizing self-reliance for those struggling with addiction.