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PM News Brief: Marijuana Amendments, Seniors Citizens And STDs & Understanding Opioid Overdoses

Photo of pills spilling out of a prescription pill bottle
Roel Smart
To study opioid overdoses in Utah, state lawmakers are considering creating a position for an overdose examiner to look at toxicology reports, the sources of drugs and the demographics of the deceased.

Monday evening, Feb. 24, 2020


Maintaining Navajo Roads

A 2-year-old stalemate over who should maintain roads on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County has ended after officials signed a new agreement Monday. The county will maintain 75 miles of roadway, while many more miles will remain the responsibility of the Navajo Division of Transportation. Read the full story.Kate Groetzinger, Blanding


Clock Ticking For Marijuana Amendments

With less than a week before Utah’s Medical Cannabis Program launches, legislators are hammering out some last minute fixes to get the program up and running. Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, is sponsoring a bill which would allow doctors to see more patients and give pharmacies more options to package the marijuana flower. Vickers said one of the most time sensitive aspects of the bill would allow Utah’s Department of Agriculture to test marijuana as private labs get set up. The bill passed the Senate Monday and is moving on to the House for a final vote. — Jon Reed

Understanding Opioid Overdose Deaths

Lawmakers have advanced a bill to study opioid related overdoses in Utah. The bill, which passed unanimously in a House committee meeting Monday, would create a position for an overdose examiner to look at toxicology reports, the sources of drugs and the demographics of the deceased. Utah’s chief medical examiner said this would provide information that local health officials need for better intervention and that over a third of 2019 deaths in Utah were related to overdose or suicide. The bill now heads to the house floor. — Jessica Lowell

Utah Abortion Battle

When informed about current state abortion restrictions, 80% of residents said Utah does not need stricter abortion laws. That’s according to a recent survey performed on behalf of three advocacy organizations. They released the data Monday, the same day Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, introduced his bill to ban all abortions in Utah except in cases of rape, incest, if the mother’s life is at risk or if the fetus has a lethal defect or severe brain abnormality. However, the bill only goes into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that abortions at any stage can be outlawed by overturning Roe v. Wade. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Senior Citizens And STDs

Utah’s senior citizens saw increased rates of Sexually Transmitted Diseases from 2007 to 2018. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Utah adults 55 and older saw a 158% increase in STDs in that time. That came out to around 46 infections per 100,000 people. Utah’s biggest jump was in gonorrhea cases, which increased 766%. Nationwide, adults over 55 have seen the biggest rate increases in gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia of any age group. — Caroline Ballard

Hunting In Utah State Parks

A new rule has increased the hunting opportunities in Utah’s state parks as of Monday. The rule was passed back in November, and is meant to increase multiple land use. Twenty-three parks are now open to all hunting, with an additional six allowing limited types of hunting. Officials say all state and federal laws, Division of Wildlife Resources rules and local ordinances still apply. — Caroline Ballard


Coronavirus And Agriculture Trade With China

It looks like President Trump’s partial trade deal with China won’t bring in the promised $40 billion or so worth of agricultural trade for the U.S. The Department of Agriculture’s chief economist says the coronavirus has disrupted shipping and supply chains, and he expects less spending from Chinese consumers in the first quarter — especially on expensive products like meat. This could hurt pork producers in the Mountain West because Chinese consumers eat a lot of American pork. Read the full story. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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