Wayne Stevens, Utah House District 55

Why did you decide to run for public office?

I decided to run for Utah House of Representatives Dist. 55 to keep public lands public for ranching, tourism, and recreation; increase spending on education to ensure the best teachers and education to make our children competitive in local, state, national, and world markets; protect our drinking waters and cleaning our air to make our citizens healthier; promote Medicaid expansion to give thousands more Utahns affordable health care; and develop renewable energy.

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

I am a retired US Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officer. My background with the BLM is a Range Conservationist for about nine years prior to becoming a law enforcement officer. I also spent about 25 years as an Emergency Medical Technician, and working on two different ambulance services and an emergency department.

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

My experience with substance abuse has been mostly through law enforcement and emergency medicine on ambulances and in the emergency department. I have had friends and relatives that abused alcohol. I started down the alcohol road, but realized it was the wrong path early enough to stop the downward spiral of alcoholics.

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

I do support the creation of medical cannabis programs. Marijuana, as cocaine in the early 20th Century, does have some medicinal uses. If cannabis stops pain or some diseases, such as cancers, it should be used before much more debilitating or invasive procedures.

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

As usual, education would be the first step. Education about drugs in general and specific drugs to attempt to stop abuse, and education for friends and family for what to do in case of an overdose. I cannot remember the state, but issuing Narcon for free in case of opioid overdose would also be a step I would consider.

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

I agree whole heartily with using science after independent, peer-reviews, and duplicated when necessary, as a basis for policy and law creation.

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 agree with the principle of harm reduction. It is a certainty that there will never be a drug free society. Currently our jails and prisons are filled with people who need treatment for substance abuse. Public health and mental care should be used to treat people who are non-violent substance abusers. As stated in a previous question, the best available and accurate science should be used to treat them. 

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

I equate recreational cannabis with alcohol. It affects individual in similar ways, except with alcohol some people become violent. As long as cannabis users do not use and drive, I see little or no problem with recreational cannabis use. However, like alcohol, cannabis, to some individuals may become an addiction and hurt families. My main concern with smoking cannabis (long term use), is the tars and carbon monoxide damaging the respiratory system, as tobacco does, and creating respiratory illnesses that develop later in life.

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 entertain sponsorship of drug policy reform if it is based on fact supported by science and of course education to prevent substance addiction.

Anything else?

Many years ago when doing marijuana eradication in the national forests of northern California, I realized that the so called war on drugs was futile and a waste of time and money. Marijuana should be legalized, other drugs I am not sure, but legalizing many illegal drugs will destroy cartels by removing the giant profits from the illegal drug trade. The best way to fight this so called war is through education and rehabilitation.