Steve Hartwick, Utah State Senate, District 23

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Why did you decide to run for public office?

I reached a point where I couldn’t read or watch the news without getting angry over the colossal misrepresentation of the people of Utah. The priorities of the current one-party State Legislature differ greatly from those of the people.  

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

Eight-year Air Force veteran, three-time Iraqi War veteran, human biology graduate, and currently work at Myriad Genetics. 

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

I have experience in pharmaceutical research thanks to my collegiate background and current line of work.

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

100% yes. The recent defeat of the medical cannabis bill is one of the biggest reasons I decided to get involved in state politics this year. I saw the defeat of that bill as harmful to those in need of medical cannabis, and was indicative of extreme ignorance on the behalf of our current GOP dominated legislature.

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

Ironically, opioid based painkillers are used much more in this state because medical cannabis is not available. Better education on the subject can help reduce the abuse of prescription medication, and allow doctors to have easier access to anti-addiction medication that can help with both the aforementioned, as well as illegal heroin use. Utah also desperately needs better/more available facilities to help those struggling with addition. 

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

Yes, I agree. As someone with a science background, I strongly believe having scientifically literate elected officials is extremely important. The above statement sums up our broken approach to substance abuse from a fact-based standpoint. 

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

I have a friend who serves in the California State Legislature, so yes, I am familiar with harm reduction. 

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

Legalize it, tax it, and regulate it. I personally can't believe this debate is still going on in 2016. An herb is a ridiculous reason to do jail time, and legalization will boost the economy significantly. 

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 - mainly medical cannabis, and the overall decriminalization of marijuana. 

Anything else?