As Utahans prepare to head to the polls to decide whether or not to legalize medical marijuana, becoming the 30th US state to do so, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has finally sounded off on the issue in a statement via the Mormon Newsroom. This marks only the second major Church announcement on the initiative, the first coming last summer, which didn’t say much more than, “let’s take time to think about it, guys.”
The new statement is below:
We commend the Utah Medical Association for its statement of March 30, 2018, cautioning that the proposed Utah marijuana initiative would compromise the health and safety of Utah communities. We respect the wise counsel of the medical doctors of Utah.
The public interest is best served when all new drugs designed to relieve suffering and illness and the procedures by which they are made available to the public undergo the scrutiny of medical scientists and official approval bodies.
Of interest here is how heavily the Church is now leaning on the UMA for guidance as opposed to exploring the spiritual (see: Word of Wisdom) implications of medical cannabis. Some Mormons looking to pick the Church’s statement apart may take issue with the Utah Medical Association effectively dictating policy from the First Presidency. But studying it out often involves incorporating the counsel of others.
UMA’s statement is less an exploration of the negative effects of medical marijuana and more a critique of the process of the ballot initiative.
Although UMA supports the use of FDA-approved cannabis-based medicines, this initiative is not about medicine. Supporters have used images and stories of suffering patients to disguise their true aim: opening another market for their products and paving the way for recreational use of marijuana in Utah.
Indeed, later the statement reads, “the initiative is not medical.” In short, the UMA argues that the initiative is a backdoor to morphing into Utah easterly, munchies-suffering neighbor, Colorado. So this is about politics. That doesn’t completely line up with the Church’s reasoning that the initiative could “compromise the health and safety of Utah communities,” particularly when the UMA states repeatedly that marijuana possesses legitimate medical value.
Either way, we guess this means the Church is saying to vote against the measure? We guess? It seems like a soft pass more than a clear edict.
Utah currently allows the use of some products derived from marijuana, such as those rich in cannabidiol.