Mormons Mix Their Messages on Medical Marijuana in Utah

By Andrew Wagner
IG: @sdcannablogger

This November, citizens of Utah will vote on whether or not to allow the medicinal use of cannabis. Prop 2, known as the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, would allow patients meeting certain qualifying conditions to be prescribed cannabis for their treatments.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), which makes up approximately 60% of Utah’s population, recently spoke out against the measure, claiming it will encourage and promote the recreational use of cannabis. Joining forces with the coalition Drug Free Utah, they issued the following statement:

We are firmly opposed to Proposition 2. However, we do not object to marijuana derivatives being used in medicinal form – so long as appropriate controls and safeguards are in place to ensure vulnerable populations are protected and access is limited to truly medicinal purposes. Moreover, though continued research into the risks and benefits of medical marijuana use remains paramount, current scientific evidence suggests marijuana contains components that may be of benefit to some patients.

Mixed Messages

The LDS church holds a strict prohibition on substances like alcohol, tobacco, and “hot beverages, such as coffee or tea.” When Mormon church-owned Brigham Young University announced it would end its six-decade ban on caffeinated soft drinks by selling Coca-Cola in its cafeteria, it caused quite a scandal. It turns out, after reviewing their texts, caffeinated cold beverages are permitted.

The traditionally conservative church sent an email to its members urging them to oppose Prop 2. The church believes it lacks the proper oversight, and that more research into cannabis’ medical benefits is required, among other concerns they have over Prop 2. They end their email, however, stating that they are not opposed to medical cannabis, “The Church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form, through a licensed pharmacy.”

This has caused some confusion, since this is precisely what Prop 2 intends to accomplish.

Questionable Motives

The church’s public stance against the ballot initiative has many questioning its tax-free status. As a religious institution, the LDS church is prohibited from endorsing a specific candidate in an election. They are allowed to comment on public initiatives without their status being threatened, however.

The LDS church also has significant financial holdings in pharmaceutical companies whose sales could be threatened by the introduction of cannabis into the market.

Whatever their motives may be, the LDS church does not oppose medicinal cannabis, as long as it’s on their terms.