The Drug Policy Project of Utah’s 2016 candidate survey was designed to help voters better understand where candidates running for office stand on important drug reform priorities and issues in Utah.
The responses in this guide were generated from data collected through a digital survey. The survey consisted of ten total questions which were directly related to our policy priorities or to open-ended to provide each candidate the opportunity to introduce themselves to their constituents.
Surveys were sent to all of the candidates running in for the following offices:
- U.S. Senate
- U.S. House
- Utah Senate
- Utah House
- Utah State School Board
- Attorney General
Below are the questions that were sent to each candidate.
1) Why did you decide to run for public office?
Please share with your constituents why you decided to seek elected office. You do not to be specific to our policy priorities.
2) What is your background? Profession, skills, etc.?
3) What is your general experience with drug policy and substance abuse?
4) Do you support the creation of a medical cannabis program? Can you expand upon your general feelings about medical cannabis?
The Drug Policy Project of Utah was established in 2013 to advocate for medical cannabis. Since then the scope of our organization has grown, yet we remain committed to establishing a medical cannabis program here in Utah.
5) What steps would you take to reduce the number of overdose deaths? Do you have any personal experiences with overdose?
Utah is facing an opioid overdose epidemic that is among the highest in the country. In June of 2015 Utah ranked 5th in the nation for drug overdose fatalities.
6) Do you agree with this analysis? Please feel free to elaborate.
We believe that independent, peer-reviewed scientific research must form the bedrock of any public policy. A significant body of evidence currently exists suggesting that a criminal justice-centric approach to substance abuse has not been efficacious up to this point. We believe that laws governing substances like cannabis and opiate-based drugs should reflect a public health perspective.
7) Are you familiar with the principle of harm reduction? Do you have any experience with harm reduction policies?
Please feel free to elaborate. Harm reduction is a public health philosophy and intervention methodology that seeks to reduce the harms associated with drug use and ineffective drug policies. A basic tenet of harm reduction is that there has never been, and will never be, a drug-free society. We advocate reducing the harms of drug use through a lens of public health, using accurate, fact-driven drug education, drug-related illness and injury prevention strategies, and effective drug treatment for problematic use.
8) What are your general thoughts on the decriminalization of cannabis? Please elaborate.
Twenty states have enacted laws to stop jailing their residents for possession of small amounts of cannabis. Many states impose a civil fine rather than a criminal arrest, which avoids the life-altering collateral consequences a criminal record carries while also allowing law enforcement the ability to correct irresponsible behavior. Decriminalization laws avoid imposing harsh punishments for possessing cannabis while freeing up law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes.
9) Are you interested in sponsoring drug policy reform legislation if you were elected? What would be some specific areas of focus or interest or you?
10) Would you like to add anything else?
We understand that the realm of drug policy is varied and diverse please feel free to use this space as a chance to speak directly to your constituents.
The following 2016 candidate surveys are a project of the Drug Policy Project of Utah, a 501(c)3 organization. This guide is intended for educational purposes only. Appearing in this guide does not constitute an endorsement from the organization. Candidates who are not included in the guide can request to participate at any time.
United States Congress
State School Board
Municipal and County
Questions? Email our President Turner C. Bitton at email@example.com or give him a call at (801) 564-3860.