Kurt Weiland, Utah House District 19

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Why did you decide to run for public office?

The elected legislature is unresponsive to the electorate. All too often, they take positions against the publics’ will. That's crazy. 

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

I'm a retired Army officer. I served as a paratroop commander and as an Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I currently own and lead a successful business consulting company in Bountiful.  

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

I commanded an Army unit in Germany. It was a tough assignment. Probably eighty percent of our time was fighting alcohol and drug abuse. I've known young men who've died of substance abuse and because of this, I've pondered the effects of policy and abuse for much of my adult life.   

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. The medical needs exist, it's there. You can't argue against facts. 

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

We're talking of a cultural problem above and beyond an abuse problem. We need to allocate resources to resolve those cultural abuse problems. I've taken too many young men to the emergency room with drug overdoses. I've seen too many young men die because of alcohol abuse. It's personal.  

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

Absolutely. If we lose our respect for science, we lose everything we've gained from the enlightenment, from the years of coming out of the dark. We cannot base a policy on ignorance or fear-mongering. 

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

I'm familiar with the principle. I have little experience with the policies.
The principle and the policy make sense; there will always be a bell curve. There will always be those on the fringes who need help and who do not need shaming.
The public may have qualms about programs such as needle-exchanges, but they reduce harm. It's a leader's responsibility to educate the public on how they can reduce harm.  

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

More problems arise from alcohol abuse than from marijuana abuse. We should learn something from the repeal of prohibition. 

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?

Absolutely. Too many of our policies are based on ignorance and fear-mongering. But any reform has to be based on the public will, and education is critical to changing preconceptions. Leaders have to lead. Educate. Advocate.   

Anything else?

My father was an alcoholic. I loved him, and I saw the horrendous effects of his alcoholism. The violence,the black-outs. The coming-home-with-damage-to-the-car-without-him-knowing-what-had-happened. There's got to be a better way.