Limited government, free markets, individual liberty. Those are the supposed principles of Utah’s Republican Legislature.
Two words: alcohol; marijuana.
The House Business and Labor Committee approved a bill last Wednesday that would allow the state to build liquor stores at a faster pace by creating a fund for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to use to acquire property, build new stores and remodel existing ones. Currently, the DABC must request funding from lawmakers every time it wants to buy land or build a store.
The state needs at least 12 more stores to keep up with sales and the growing population.
And the Legislature wants to capture that revenue.
Despite the fact that the majority of Utah legislators belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which forbids drinking alcohol, the Utah Legislature is in the business of alcohol. The state-run industry is strong, lucrative and very political.
Past legislative sessions have focused on burdensome requirements for barriers or walls or silly signs that tell non-confused patrons that the premises is a restaurant or a bar.
So at least the Legislature this session is merely concentrating on building more stores.
But a conversation on privatization would align more closely with Republican mores.
And then there’s marijuana. The Legislature might allow Utah to join the 29 other states that have legalized medical marijuana in some form.
But it will be the Utah way.
On Monday the House voted, by one vote, to advance a bill that would create a state-run dispensary of marijuana products to allow use by terminally ill patients within six months of dying. (Is it really a good idea to incentivize such a declared timeline?)
That’s right — a state-run dispensary.
The point of medical marijuana is to alleviate pain, in non-opioid form, in order to increase the quality of life — not just for those who suffer terminal illnesses who have no hope, but for those who live with chronic pain.
Utahns, you shouldn’t drink. If you insist on doing so, we will make it as hard and costly as possible.
Utahns, you shouldn’t use marijuana. If you insist on doing so, we will make it as hard and costly as possible.
Despite its celebration of conservative principles, the Utah Legislature prefers to control industry, prescribe morals and make a profit while doing so.
Maybe one day it will trust Utahns to make their own decisions.