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Mormon Officials Push For Session To Debate Pot, But Lawmakers Say It’s Unlikely


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out in cautious support of medical marijuana last month but now says the legislature should decide how it’s legalized in Utah, not the voters in a citizen’s initiative this November.

Marty Stephens is the director of community and government relations with the Mormon Church.

“We hope that the initiative fails but we’re committed to supporting a solution to this and getting that done this year,” Stephens said.

He believes the legislature should decide how to move forward on medical marijuana in a special session straight after the November election.

Stephens said the groups opposing the initiative could come up with “a statement of principles” in the next several weeks for lawmakers to use in their own legislation.

A special legislative session must first be called by Gov. Gary Herbert. Officials with the governor’s office said that while possible, it would be difficult to call a special session in the time period described by Church officials.

Brian King is the Democratic minority leader in Utah’s House of Representatives. He said while the citizen initiative isn’t perfect, he’ll support it. 

“If Proposition 2 passes on November 6, I think it would be unwise to rush in and in the week or two following that have a special session and address the issues there,” King said.

While King said he does think the proposition would need some minor tweaks he suggested those could be made in the regular legislative session in January.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Correction: A previous version of this story referred to Marty Stephens as the director of communications with the Mormon Church. He is the director of community and government relations. 

Copyright 2021 KUER 90.1. To see more, visit KUER 90.1.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.

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