Lynn Hemingway, Utah House District 40

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Why did you decide to run for public office?

I was encouraged to run by some friends who were Senators at the time; Senator Mike Dmitrich and Senator Gene Davis are very good friends of mine. I retired in 2002 and decided to run for the legislature in 2006, I simply wanted to serve my community and the Democrats in Utah.

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

I was the Director of State Governmental Affairs for a major oil producer and gas pipeline company when I retired in 2002. I have worked in state government throughout the USA. My employer had operations in 49 states and I was responsible for state governmental activity in all of those states. I have, most likely, the most expertise in energy and energy regulation in the legislature. 

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

I don't have a great deal of experience with drug policy, but I am working with people who are deeply involved. I working with Travis Wood and Joel Johnson from Odyssey House, and I'm trying to get involved as much as I can.

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

I would like to see the expansion of a medical cannabis program in Utah. 

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

I don't have any personal experience, however, I am acquainted with people who maybe addicted to pain meds and I worry every day that they may overdose. I would hope that medical cannabis would keep this person from totally destroying her life and her family.

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

I agree.

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

Sounds good to me.

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

I would like to see the medical use at this juncture. We need to take baby steps in Utah. I don't disagree that at some point it will be available, but only when the state can make a profit.

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?

I hadn't considered any legislation of this sort. It seems that there are already reps that are willing to champion the cause. I would certainly be open to discussion on the issue.

Anything else?

I know there is a real problem in Utah with prescription drugs. If there is a way to help people reduce pain without the opiates, I would work to see that happen.