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AM News Brief: Payson Cannabis Pharmacy, Washington County Second Amendment Sanctuary & Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women’s Day

Photo of Theda New Breast with missing persons sign.
Nate Hegyi / KUER
Wednesday, May 5, marks Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day across the United States. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, May 5, 2021


Utahns And Student Debt Forgiveness

Roughly 300,000 people in Utah are paying off student loans, according to an analysis from the loan advising website Student Loan Hero. President Joe Biden wants to wipe away at least some of it with a plan to cancel $10,000 of loans for borrowers nationwide. If he does, about 37% of Utahns with student debt would see it erased entirely — the second-highest proportion of borrowers in the country, the analysis found. University of Utah business professor and higher education finance researcher Marshall Steinbaum said debt forgiveness helps individuals and the broader economy by freeing up money for people to spend. He also disagrees with the argument that cancelling loans would only help a relatively privileged group of people, as more people from diverse backgrounds and low-income families have attended college in recent years. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Woman Found After More Than Five Months

A 47-year-old Utah woman who went missing in November has been discovered alive at a campsite near Provo. Utah County officials said she was found living in a tent and was taken to the hospital. Utah County Sheriff's Sergeant Spencer Cannon said the woman was underweight and weak but otherwise uninjured. She had relied on grass, moss and water from a nearby river during the five months she was missing. A statement from the sheriff's office said that she may be struggling with mental health challenges and her disappearance was intentional. — Associated Press

Central/Southern Utah

Payson Medical Cannabis Pharmacy

A medical cannabis pharmacy has opened in Payson, Utah — the third in Utah County and right now the southernmost pharmacy in the state. It’s called “Pure Utah Payson,” and operators said it is focused on serving Utah County and the southern and central parts of the state. That now makes 11 medical cannabis pharmacies in Utah. The state has licensed 14 total — including ones in Cedar City and St. George which have not opened yet. Patients must have a medical cannabis card from a qualified provider to buy cannabis from Utah pharmacies. — Elaine Clark

Washington County — Second Amendment Sanctuary

Washington County has declared itself a sanctuary for constitutional rights and freedoms. County commissioners said they’re concerned about government actions, especially when it comes to the Second Amendment and public health orders. Commissioner Victor Iverson said Washington County is a place where individual’s rights are protected, but he also encouraged citizens to be alert. The commission passed the resolution at its meeting Tuesday. Last month, neighboring Iron County created a Constitutional Defense Council, which will review federal and state laws. — Lexi Peery, St. George


Remembering Missing And Murdered Indigenous People

Wednesday, May 5, marks Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Awareness Day across the United States. Sex trafficking is one of the main ways Indigenous women go missing and murdered in Utah, according to Yolanda Francisco-Nez. She directs a tribal coalition in Utah called Restoring Ancestral Winds. “We have individuals who will often call our organization who are desperate for help, who have been solicited by a non-Native American male who has brought them into the urban setting and has sold their bodies for sex,” she said. Restoring Ancestral Winds is holding two virtual events Wednesday to raise awareness about MMIW. They will focus on resources for finding missing people and statewide efforts to address the issue. Both events are open to the public. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Wildfires Means Lower Air Quality

University of Utah researchers published a study April 30 which draws a link between wildfire smoke and declining air quality in the region. Lead author Kai Wilmot of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences analyzed data from the last two decades in urban centers across the American West to highlight the human impact of wildfire smoke. Wilmot said with more and more people moving to the Mountain West, the likelihood of fire increases. That means meeting air quality standards will be a challenge for the region in the next 15 years. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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