High and Dry
This week, it's all about the governor—what bills he signed, what he didn't, and how he still seems kind of clueless. The Deseret News ran a poll showing that 77 percent of Utahns support medical marijuana. There's an initiative out there to put the issue on the ballot. Not to be undone by overwhelming public opinion, Gov. Herbert put on his dissenter's hat and said, oh no, the initiative goes too far and could lead to (pause for emphasis) recreational pot. This latest opinion aligns with what he said at a 2016 news conference: "I'm not interested in having Dr. Feelgood out there say 'Yeah, yeah. Qué pasa? You know, here's your doobie for the day and you'll feel better.'" Does it make you cringe to hear a grown man in a suit use the word "doobie?"
Believe What You Want
It could be enough that Herbert and the Legislature totally miss the point of medical marijuana. Legislators, surely thinking they were totally rad and progressive, approved medical cannabis for people dying within six months. We thought medical marijuana is about easing chronic pain, even epilepsy—not calculating your final days. But Utah conservatives are stuck on the tired insistence that there's just not enough research out there. And they really, really believe that you can get high, or want to get high, taking medical cannabis. It's interesting that testimonials turn their heads in cases like home schooling or free-range parenting, a concept that spoke to the governor as he signed that into law. But no amount of pain and suffering can sway them to approve the "weed."
Power to the People
Speaking of public opinion, this is the year. There are six ballot initiatives heading for an April 16 deadline. The Keep My Voice anti-candidate-signature-gathering initiative probably doesn't have a chance, but the others do. And Gov. Herbert got chills just thinking about the inland port bill—money, business, trucks. Not so much the public and Salt Lake City, whose municipal authority was staunched. Environmentalists were apoplectic because the "port" threatens the Great Salt Lake ecosystem. But so does the state prison. Still, Herbert signed it into law even though it's "not yet perfect," according to KUTV 2 News. And now he's going to call a special session to "fix" the legislation. The public spoke loud and clear with the initiatives and against the inland port, and they might just keep up that pressure. Some day, their representatives will listen.