Category: gary herbert

Governor responds after 2 county attorneys advise against state-run medical cannabis distribution

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Governor Gary Herbert released a statement Wednesday morning in which he addressed recent advisements by two of Utah’s county attorneys for their respective health departments not to participate in state-run medical cannabis distribution.

“Any suggestion that the current law would require county employees to be ‘drug dealers’ is unprofessional and inappropriate,” the statement from Herbert’s office.

In an interview with FOX 13 on Monday, Davis County Attorney  Troy Rawlings said he had advised the Davis County Health Department not to participate in distributing medical cannabis.

“The federal Controlled Substances Act is directly in conflict with what the state statute requires health departments to do,” Rawlings said. “There is no exemption in federal law for being basically a marijuana distributor — a dealer — for a county. There is no exception.”

On Tuesday, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he gave similar advisement to the Salt Lake County Health Department.

“We’re not going to participate in something that is, facially, going to be illegal,” he said in an interview Tuesday with FOX 13.

The decision by the chief legal officer for Utah’s most populous county adds to pressure on the Utah State Legislature, which crafted the idea of having county health departments handing out cannabis to qualifying patients. Prosecutors and health departments have raised concerns that they would be violating federal law by doing so.

“Right now, H.B. 3001  is the law of the land. The Salt Lake and Davis County Departments of Health, and all others who are asked to implement the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, should do so in a manner that is consistent with the timeline prescribed in the Utah Medical Cannabis Act,” the statement from Gov. Herbert’s Office said.

Read the full statement below.

Since the passing of Utah Medical Cannabis Act, Governor Herbert has been involved in an ongoing dialogue with members of his senior team and cabinet to ensure the law will be implemented in a way that respects Utahns. He is committed to ensuring patients have access to medical cannabis within the timeline set out in the Medical Cannabis Act.

As part of these ongoing discussions, agencies may identify and suggest changes to the law in order to ensure that our medical cannabis delivery system meets the needs of Utahns while also providing appropriate safeguards and proper regulation.

Governor Herbert also meets regularly with legislative leaders to discuss the implementation of major laws. The governor will meet with legislative leadership in mid-August to both provide and receive updates on a number of critical policy items. State leaders have always operated on the principle of consensus. If the governor and state leaders determine that a special session to make changes to this law is warranted, it will be called at an appropriate time.

Right now, H.B. 3001  is the law of the land. The Salt Lake and Davis County Departments of Health, and all others who are asked to implement the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, should do so in a manner that is consistent with the timeline prescribed in the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. Any suggestion that the current law would require county employees to be “drug dealers” is unprofessional and inappropriate.

Governor pushes back on county attorneys who advise against state-run medical cannabis distribution

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert suggested changes may be coming to Utah’s medical cannabis program before it even launches, but also pushed back on assertions that county health departments might be breaking federal law if they dispensed cannabis.

In a statement to FOX 13 on Wednesday, the governor’s office said he has been involved in an ongoing dialogue to implement the law passed by the legislature that overrode Proposition 2.

“He is committed to ensuring patients have access to medical cannabis within the timeline set out in the Medical Cannabis Act,” the governor’s office said. “As part of these ongoing discussions, agencies may identify and suggest changes to the law in order to ensure that our medical cannabis delivery system meets the needs of Utahns while also providing appropriate safeguards and proper regulation.”

The governor’s office said he intends to meet with legislative leadership in mid-August and they intended to discuss issues with the medical cannabis law.

“If the governor and state leaders determine that a special session to make changes to this law is warranted, it will be called at an appropriate time,” the statement said. “Right now, H.B. 3001 is the law of the land. The Salt Lake and Davis County Departments of Health, and all others who are tasked to implement the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, should do so in a manner that is consistent with the timeline prescribed in the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. Any suggestion that the current law would require county employees to be ‘drug dealers’ is unprofessional and inappropriate.”

In response, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the governor is not legal counsel for the Davis County Health Department.

“The current statute absolutely does require Davis County employees to distribute a federally controlled substance in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. To suggest otherwise is unprofessional and inappropriate,” he said in a statement Wednesday to FOX 13.

Rawlings said in an interview Monday he had advised his county’s health department not to participate in distributing medical cannabis out of concerns that they could lose millions in federal grant dollars and county workers could potentially be prosecuted because marijuana remains a federally prohibited drug.

“The federal Controlled Substances Act is directly in conflict with what the state statute requires health departments to do,” Rawlings said at the time. “There is no exemption in federal law for being basically a marijuana distributor — a dealer — for a county. There is no exception.”

On Tuesday, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he gave similar advice to the Salt Lake County Health Department months ago.

“We’re not going to participate in something that is, facially, going to be illegal,” Gill said.

The District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the governor’s remarks.

The public statements by the chief legal officers of two of Utah’s most populous counties has impacted plans for the state-run medical cannabis program. Supporters of Prop. 2 have argued that the state should not be dispensing marijuana, but should leave it to private dispensaries (who run the risk of prosecution) like other states.

On Tuesday night, the Utah Association of Local Health Departments — which represents all of the state’s local health departments — told FOX 13 it had been informed counties would likely no longer be required to dispense medical cannabis.

Legislative leaders have said they are listening to county attorneys and health departments and working on a solution, which may involve new legislation to fix the bill.

But Gov. Herbert’s office pushed back on the idea that Utah could lose millions in federal grant money for health programs. Under a public records request by FOX 13, a letter was provided from the Department Health and Human Services assuring the state its applications would not be affected.

“Utah’s Medical Marijuana law will not affect the State’s eligibility to apply for HHS grants nor will it affect the outcome of the State’s application,” Acting Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources Jennifer Moughalian wrote in the letter to the governor.

It has done little to ease the anxiety of county prosecutors, who have acknowledged odds of prosecution or federal action against Utah are slim — but not guaranteed. They point to U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber’s statements prior to Prop. 2 passing that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Gov. Herbert to be honored for his work on behalf of refugees

SALT LAKE CITY — We’ve heard Gov. Gary Herbert say time and time again: Utah is a welcoming state, drawing on our pioneer roots.

For the 65,000 refugees who call Utah home, many feel the Governor has not only opened the door but has provided them with the support they need to thrive in their new surroundings.

The refugee community will present Herbert with a Lifetime Achievement Award Friday morning.

Herbert has a track record of welcoming refugees from all over, including Syria and other Muslim countries despite the uncertainty for refugee support in the US.

Two years ago he signed a minority and refugee resolution called Guarding the Civil Liberties and Freedoms for all American People.

The governor has been a big proponent of helping refugees integrate into their new homes—providing them resources to find jobs, housing, and learn language skills.

The award will be presented Friday at an event that begins at 8:30 a.m. in Salt Lake City

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert being treated for skin cancer

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced he is being treated for skin cancer.

At a ceremonial bill signing on Wednesday for a series of education funding bills, the governor disclosed he is being treated.

The diagnosis is believed to be relatively minor. In recent weeks the governor has been seen wearing small bandages.

The governor disclosed the diagnosis in front of a group of children, who he told to wear their sunscreen.

Fox 13 News will update this story as more details emerge.