The Mormon church ramped up its opposition this week to Proposition 2, which would allow medical cannabis in Utah, even as faith leaders insisted they support patients using it under strict controls.
The LDS Church’s opposition to Proposition 2 pits it against a tough foe: faithful members who already use medical cannabis. This isn’t the first time they have voiced their opinion against legalization either.
At a news conference Thursday with state heavy hitters, a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took the unusual step of speaking publicly against the ballot initiative being decided by voters in November.
The church is “deeply concerned” the proposal doesn’t have enough oversight, said Jack Gerard, a member of a midlevel global church leadership panel.
“We are deeply concerned by the history of other states that have allowed medical and recreational use of this drug … and have experienced serious consequences to the health of its citizens,” Elder Jack N. Gerard, flanked by politicians, medical professionals and other church leaders, said at a news conference at the state Capitol.
If the church announced that marijuana use would put members at odds with the faith, the man said, he would have given up the tinctures and dealt with the tremors.
“My standing in the church is very important. My beliefs in the church are important to me and to my life,” he said. “If the church came out and said cannabis use is prohibited, the chances are I’d probably follow the church — as bad as that is.”
Here are the basics behind the situation:
- The Utah Medical Cannabis Act would create a state-regulated market with potentially about 20 licensed dispensaries, as well as cultivators, processors and independent testers.
- It would allow patients with certain medical conditions to use Medical Marijuana in a number of forms, but would ban smoking.
- Opponents say the measure could lead to recreational marijuana
The Drug Safe Utah coalition that pushed back against the plan Thursday included doctors, police officers and public figures such as Utah Jazz president Steve Starks.
This isn’t the first time the Mormon church has weighed in on the issue.
In May, the church issued a statement citing an analysis that had raised “grave concerns” about the initiative and warned of “serious adverse consequences” if it became law.
Coalition members said Drug Safe Utah had carried out a “number of fraudulent activities” in trying to persuade people to remove their names from the initiative. They alleged opponents were using several deceptive tactics, and cited a video, apparently recorded by a voter, showing a canvasser from the opposition group making several misstatements — including that she was an employee of a county clerk’s office.