© 2023 KPCW

Spencer F. Eccles Broadcast Center
PO Box 1372 | 460 Swede Alley
Park City | UT | 84060
Office: (435) 649-9004 | Studio: (435) 655-8255

Music & Artist Inquiries: music@kpcw.org
News Tips & Press Releases: news@kpcw.org
Volunteer Opportunities
General Inquiries: info@kpcw.org
Listen Like a Local Park City & Heber City Summit & Wasatch counties, Utah
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
🚧 FLOODING 🚧 Find flood hazard maps, where to get sandbags and flood mitigation help, plus flood insurance information here

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez Weighs In On Medical Marijuana

Summit County Sheriff's Office

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez says the current legal situation for marijuana is complicated and messy—with medical marijuana now allowed in Utah; recreational marijuana permitted in a neighboring state; and federal law prohibiting it.

That’s why, the sheriff says, there should be a thorough study of the issue.

The sheriff recently talked about marijuana during his regular visit to the Local View with Randy Barton. He said, as a sheriff, he’s going to follow the law in Utah.

“We’ll go ahead and support that. I as a sheriff am not going to interfere with people that have a legal medical card and they are legitimately carrying legally their dose. I will not interfere with that.”

However, he said that the drug can’t get the vetting it should, due to its federal classification.

“Right now, it’s a Schedule 1 drug under a Schedule 1 listing it doesn’t have an ability to be given a true testing. I truly feel that the government, the DEA or whoever it is regulate it as a Schedule 2 and allow it to be fully vested, fully tested to see if it has medicinal purposes. The Sheriff’s Association has agreed with that stance. Let it have a real legitimate FDA trial and let’s see what we have. If it shows that it has true medicinal purposes, legalize it. Make it what it is. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that supports that it has medicinal purposes. I see evidence of that.”

He is critical of the fact that, after Utah voters approved medical marijuana, state legislators quickly passed their own version.

“I think that disenfranchises the voter. We have a democracy where we should be allowed to vote. Whether you agree with it or not. Whether you agree with medical marijuana, the president, me as the sheriff, we have a right to vote in this country. To have our legislature come back and say, nah we’re going to go ahead and we’re going to tell you how its going to be. We as the state of Utah—for right or wrong, good or bad—passed Prop 2. It’s just unfortunate that sometimes our legislature has to get involved in what they shouldn’t be involved in.”

Sheriff Martinez said it’s not certain how law enforcement will control users crossing state lines.

“If somebody were to come across, say they went to Colorado and they came across the boarder and they had a medical marijuana card legally and they and their prescribed amount. Whether they bought it from Colorado or not, I can’t prove where they got if from. If they have within the limits of what their car provides them, I don’t know if I have legal jurisdiction to make an arrest. Unless I can absolutely unequivocally prove that it was illegal transported across the lines.”

He also pointed out that under the current law marijuana would be approved for an edible form but not for smoking.

“So, what happens if we find they have a legal medical marijuana card and—this is a scenario that we have to address—they have edibles, they’re allowed to have the edibles, but they also have a little bit of marijuana, an actual bud. So, can we arrest them for the possession of that and not for the other? It just creates a very interesting dynamic that we as law enforcement, that I as a sheriff, am going to have to navigate.”

He said it’s also concerning that the state law directs local health departments to be dispensaries.

“Wouldn’t take in the funds, the proceeds, but then what the state is asking is for local governments to break federal law. In essence they’re saying ok we will allow you to dispense it. That creates the quagmire what if the new attorney general whoever that may be comes in and says we’re going to go ahead and now we’re going to put sanctions on local governments for dispensing a federally illegal narcotic. It’s a mess. That’s why I’m to the point now, let’s give it a real due study and then if it shows up legal then let’s just get it over with. Because we’re really trying to fit a square peg into a round hole at this point.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
Related Content