LDS Mormon church opposes Utah medical marijuana

On August 23, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made official its opposition to Proposition 2, the medical marijuana initiative that will appear on the ballot in November. Elder Jack N. Gerard told the press that the church was not, however, opposed to medical marijuana administered under a doctor’s supervision.

“The church does not object to the medical use of marijuana,” he said, so long as a doctor prescribes the medicine “through a licensed pharmacy.”

One may ask why, if the church is not opposed to marijuana use by patients under a doctor’s supervision, the church does not support a ballot measure that would make that very thing legal. The answer may be inferred from objections that have been raised to the bill, which in summary contend that it is not restrictive enough. As Gerard put it, Proposition 2 “goes too far.” The law would, for example, allow people to grow their own and license dispensaries to provide marijuana rather than pharmacies. In the United States, pharmacies are regulated by a federal agency, the Food and Drug Administration.

Mormon doctrine forbids intoxicants, including alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. About 40 percent of Utah’s population is active in the church, and more than 60 percent are listed on the church’s rolls. According to UtahPolicy.com, in February, about 75 percent of likely voters in the state favored passage of Proposition 2. That level has dropped to roughly 65 percent. The church’s announcement and the efforts of Drug Safe Utah, a coalition of doctors, law enforcement officials, and other prominent citizens, may be credited with this decline. Drug Safe Utah filed a lawsuit seeking to keep Proposition 2 off the ballot on the argument that it would violate the rights of a Mormon plaintiff to practice his religion. In the face of a likely defeat in court, the group withdrew the lawsuit in July. In a first, the church, which officially “is neutral in matters of party politics,” sent out email to its members informing them of its objections to the initiative, which the church calls “a serious threat to health and public safety.”

UtahPolicy.com claims that “Democrats have actually increased their support for medical marijuana, 97-2 percent today, 95-4 percent in May.” The same source points out, however, that Democrats are very much a minority in the state. There are 161,000 Democrats in Utah, a state with 1.3 million registered voters. Among Republicans and independents, support for Proposition 2 is slipping, with the decline most notable among active members of the church.

The Utah Patients Coalition

The Utah Patients Coalition is the grassroots group working to pass Proposition 2. Its Gofundme page has a goal of $100,000 to continue the campaign. Its Facebook page cites a poll showing an August survey that demonstrates 43 percent still “strongly support” Proposition 2 and that 21 percent support it “somewhat.” The page also shows videos of a child having seizures and an adult with multiple sclerosis shaking uncontrollably in an emergency room, awaiting “a cocktail of Morphine, Ativan and Benadryl” to alleviate his symptoms.

One news story on the Utah Patients Coalition site tells of the:

Parents of Holden Cromar, an 11-year-old boy with a traumatic seizure disorder, [who] recently explained to reporters that they face an “impossible choice.” They can stay in Utah—the home they know and love—while they watch Holden suffer from agonizing seizures. Or, they can move to Colorado, where they can access effective cannabis treatments that drastically improve his condition.

Such arguments in favor of compassionate use notwithstanding, now that the Mormon church has officially announced its opposition to Proposition 2, public opinion in Utah is shifting away from support. Whether the initiative will still have a majority in November remains to be seen.

What do you think? Will Proposition 2 win in November? Leave a comment below.

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