Rudi Kohler, Utah House District 54

Why did you decide to run for public office?

I believe that Utah needs to do better in the following areas: education, healthcare, environment, jobs, and government policy.

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

I am a retired Chemical Engineer, with extensive management experience. I'm also in the process of writing two books on government policy and law.

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

I have had two family members die from drug related issues.

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

I strongly support a medical cannabis program based on the evidence that it can alleviate many symptoms currently, and often inadequately, addressed with opioids 

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

Medical cannabis has the potential to reduce opioid deaths by providing an alternate treatment for pain. I would also prefer treatment to incarceration for addicts. I have no personal experience with overdose. 

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

I agree. Addiction is a medical problem – not a criminal one. The use of mind alternating drugs can be decriminalized if coupled with both treatment programs and a national advertising program – much like tobacco – discouraging use. The government's role would be to regulate the industry and tax the products to just below the level of criminal interest.

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

I agree with the above statement. Again, I have no experience with harm reduction policies.

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

I would start Utah with a program of medical cannabis and a policy of small fines for recreational use and possession. The fines should be in line with those imposed on those with out of state liquor possession. After a few years under this policy, most Utahns would be more comfortable with legal recreational cannabis use.

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 would be in favor of sponsoring a bill legalizing medical cannabis.

Anything else?

Medical cannabis is far less harmful than opioids and can – for some individuals – achieve the same or superior results. We, as Utahns, need to focus on the medical and crime issues that result with truly dangerous drugs, by providing both regulation and treatment programs. If anything has been proven in the past century of drug abuse, it is the fact that criminalization is not working. As with alcohol prohibition, it is time to CAREFULLY move on.