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Utah lawmakers speak out against Gov. Herbert’s ‘que pasa’ remark on medical marijuana

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Posted at 4:49 PM, Jan 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 18:49:21-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert was the subject of some criticism Thursday over some statements he made regarding medical marijuana that some felt were racist, and Friday several Utah lawmakers issued a statement condemning that remark.

“I think the discussion is now at hand, the time is nigh,” Governor Herbert said Thursday of the discussion on legalizing medical marijuana. “But I’m not interested in having Dr. Feelgood out there say ‘ya,ya, que pasa, here’s your doobie for the day and you’ll feel better.’ That’s probably not where I want to go.”

While some Utahns took to social media to express their disappointment of what they felt was a racist remark, several representatives and a senator sent a statement Friday.

The statement was issued by Utah Representatives Mark Wheatley, Angela Romero and Sandra Hollins along with Senator Luz Escamilla.

Representative Wheatley said, “This kind of insensitive remark from the top elected official in our state is completely unacceptable. I have worked with the Governor many times before, but for him to mock both an entire group of people based on their language and those who are sick and dying and in need of alternative treatment is more than careless, it’s revealing. This seemingly small slip of the tongue can and will be incredibly destructive to communities of color, like the ones I represent.”

Rep. Hollins added: “It’s simply false. It’s the kind of falsehood that you see presidential candidates flinging around just as irresponsibly. Words matter, especially when you are dealing with communities that have been historically repressed. People in my community are regularly passed up for jobs and houses because of assumed drug use, with absolutely no proof and no validity. What the governor has done, whether he realizes it or not, is point to the people in my district and say ‘other’.”

Thursday, a spokesman for the governor said Herbert had no intention of offending anyone, but understands how his remark may be perceived that way. The spokesman said the comment was intended to be a George Carlin reference.