Why did you decide to run for public office?
I decided to run for Governor because I have witnessed that Utah state politics becoming an insiders' game and corporate pay-to-play system. Our current politicians are not listening to the average Utahn (your polling on the majority of Utahns being in favor of medical cannabis is a good example). I want to give a voice to everyday Utahns and represent ALL the people of our state.
What is your background? Profession, skills, etc.?
For the past 19 years, I have been the leader of CHG Healthcare Services, a Utah-based business that is the largest physician-staffing company in the United States. I co-founded the company with investors in 1998 and served as its CEO for the first 17 years, and the Chairman of the board for the last two years. I retired from day-to-day operations in February 2016 to run for Governor. The leadership and problem-solving skills I developed over a 30-year business career are transferable to the Governor's role.
What is your general experience with drug policy and substance abuse?
When I decided to run for Governor, I determined that I needed to be extremely knowledgeable on these topics. I reached out to Turner Bitton to bring me up to speed. Also, as a member of the board of the ACLU of Utah, there was certainly some intersection between our work on the criminal justice system and drug policy.
Do you support the creation of a medical cannabis program? Can you expand upon your general feelings about medical cannabis?
I strongly support the creation of a medical cannabis program in Utah. I believe the medical research is there, if we can get past the "moral" issue that accompanies this topic in Utah.
What steps would you take to reduce the number of overdose deaths? Do you have any personal experiences with overdose?
I would create a commission on opioids to make recommendations for combating addiction and overdoses. I believe you have to start with educating the public on this issue and remove the stigma that prohibits open and honest discussion of the problems.
Do you agree with this analysis? Please feel free to elaborate.
I could not agree more with this analysis. My experience with the ACLU of Utah has informed my position on this.
Are you familiar with the principle of harm reduction? Do you have any experience with harm reduction policies? Please feel free to elaborate.
I do not have any experience with harm reduction, though the principle, as you have described it here, sounds spot on.
What are your general thoughts on the decriminalization of cannabis? Please elaborate.
I agree that cannabis should be decriminalized, but believe that timing will be the biggest issue for Utah. Then again, I used to think that Utah would be the 50th state to finally legalize same-sex marriage, so hope (and hard work) abounds.
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?
Legalizing medical cannabis would be the (original) main area of focus.
Thank you, DPPU, for all that you do!