Utah Capitol 27

UtahPolicy.com has confirmed that proposed changes to the new state medical marijuana law -- to be decided in a special legislative session -- have not been approved by leaders of the LDS Church.

Not that such approval is needed.

But last fall, then-House Speaker Greg Hughes, in trying to work out an agreement between Prop 2 backers and church leaders, who opposed Prop 2, did consult with church leaders via former Utah House Speaker Marty Stephens, who is now the chief government affairs officer for the Salt Lake City-based church.

There was no need to go back to church leaders over the upcoming special session changes, UtahPolicy is told by GOP legislative leaders because the changes are relatively minor.

And, as one leader said, “We have to have these changes to make the (medical marijuana) law work -- we don’t have a law without them.”

In the Sept. 16 special session lawmakers will remove county health departments as the official medical marijuana dispensaries and, instead, authorize up to 12 private company dispensaries, as well as making a few other minor tweaks in the law.

Upon advice from their lawyers, the county officials don’t want any part of providing medical marijuana, which is still illegal under federal law, for they worry about risking their federal funds -- even though federal officials say no state or county governments will risk funds if they approve of medical marijuana.

The LDS Church is just one of our constituents, said one legislative leader -- although a big one.

And if church leaders had any problems with what the Legislature will do in a few days, he imagined the church would get in contact with lawmakers to express that concern.

So far silence from the church, which in all things dealing with the Legislature and church leaders, that means leaders have no objection to what lawmakers are considering.

Making the “required” changes now, as one lawmaker put it, will still allow the state to have a medical marijuana prescription and distribution system in place come the March 2020 deadline for ill Utahns getting some relief by legally using the drug.