Mia Love meets with Herald editorial board 05

Mia Love meets with Herald editorial board at the Daily Herald office in Provo on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. Love is running for reelection in the U.S. Representative's office from Utah's 4th congressional district. She is the first Haitian American and the first black female Republican in Congress as well as the first African American to be elected to Congress from Utah. SAMMY JO HESTER, Daily Herald

Congresswoman Mia Love, R-Saratoga Springs, expressed support for medical marijuana at an in-person town hall meeting held Wednesday afternoon at the Saratoga Springs Fire Station.

Constituents were able to meet with Love in groups of up to 10 people to discuss issues or ask her questions. Saratoga Springs resident Julie King was one of a group of four people who were the first to meet with Love Wednesday, and she had a very specific request: support rescheduling of marijuana at the federal level so that it can be studied and used for medical purposes.

Marijuana is currently considered a Schedule I drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with drugs like LSD and ecstasy that have “No currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to dea.gov.

King said she is an ultra-rapid metabolizer, meaning she processes narcotics so quickly they don’t have a chance to work for her or her daughter.

“No one told me it was genetic,” King said. “And I had a daughter who had a ruptured appendix, and she ended up in Primary Children’s (Hospital, in Salt Lake City). She woke up out of surgery screaming because she had no pain medication.”

King is now supporting a proposed ballot initiative in Utah that would legalize marijuana only for medical use, but wants to see the reclassification step taken at the federal level as well.

Though Love did not specifically commit to working to reschedule marijuana at a federal level, she said she approached the issue from the perspective of a mother.

“I don’t support recreational use,” Love said. “But, you know, I know a lot of parents out there where their children suffer from epilepsy, or they suffer from other things, and if it’s prescribed by a doctor, then I’m fine with it.”

Love said there are narcotics that are “far worse” than marijuana.

“I mean we have an opioid epidemic here,” Love said. “Not just here, but all throughout the country, there are things I believe are far more harmful.”

In addition a lot of veterans also feels it helps with Post Traumatic Stress, Love said.

“So again, as a parent, I am not going to question the different scenarios that people have, are put in,” Love said. “I’m not a physician so I just know that as a parent, if I knew there was something out there that would help, my child, a loved one or a friend, I would be OK with it.”

Other constituents in the meeting brought up different issues, including making Health Savings Accounts accessible to more people — which Love said she also supported — and making sure veterans’ benefits are not taken away or diminished by the federal government.

“I would never vote for anything that would actually take our veteran’s benefits away,” Love said. “I commit to you that I will watch out for that.”

King said she appreciated that Love was willing to meet with people individually -- up until this meeting, King said she had no idea of the Congresswoman’s stance on medical marijuana.

“I appreciated that I was able to talk to her a mother to a mother, and that she responded not as a politician, but that she responded as a mother,” King said.

Claudette Rush, who attended the meeting to ask about veterans’ benefits, said she thought that the meeting went well. But, she said, she still wished Love would hold a large town hall meeting.

People are angry right now, Rush said, and representatives do not get the same sense of it when there’s only four people in a room as opposed to hundreds.

“So I think that she’s losing that feeling,” Rush said. “And it could be that people are really happy with her and they might just all support her and send out wonderful vibes, but, so I think this is great, but I think that big town halls are also important.”

Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who resigned at the end of June, held a town hall in February attended by more than a thousand people who frequently booed Chaffetz throughout the night.

Love said the controlled town hall meetings with fewer people are more productive.

“What I want to do is a town hall, not organized riots,” Love said.

Safety is still a primary concern for her as well, Love said. A few months ago, Love notified the police when someone was seen photographing her house and children. A recent shooting that injured members of the Republican congressional baseball team and threatening phone calls have brought safety to the forefront, Love said.

“It’s just the one (person) sometimes that you have to watch out for that makes it very difficult,” Love said.

Love said she intends to continue holding similar events and tele-town halls at varying times of day for constituents.

Katie England is the South County and political reporter for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com

Katie England covers politics, county government and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com.

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