LDS Church supports opposition to medical marijuana ballot initiative

Temple Square consists of the Salt Lake Temple, the Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall and two visitors' centers, Salt Lake City, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Tuesday weighing in on Utah’s medical marijuana ballot initiative.

In the statement from the First Presidency, which consists of the church’s prophet-president and his two counselors, lent its support to the views of the Utah Medical Association, which opposes the initiative.

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.

Read more: Governor signs law allowing terminal patients ‘right to try’ medical marijuana

In its March 30 statement, the Utah Medical Association board of directors accused the Utah Patients Coalition, the group backing the medical marijuana initiative, of misleading the public, as well as “misrepresenting and misappropriating” Utah’s physicians regarding medical marijuana.

Neither D.J. Schanz, the Libertas Institute, the Marijuana Policy Project, nor any of the other backers of this initiative speak for the physicians of Utah, nor for the majority of their patients. As the largest organization representing physicians in Utah, UMA unequivocally states its opposition to the current initiative and applauds Gov. (Gary) Herbert for speaking out in opposition as well, fulfilling his role in protecting public health and safety.

Read more: Gov. Herbert says he will ‘actively oppose’ medical cannabis initiative

The UMA directors also said the real purpose of the ballot initiative is not to legalize medical marijuana. Rather, the board argues the initiative is being used to ultimately pave the way for legalized recreational marijuana use in Utah.

“This initiative is not medical,” the board said in the statement.

Certifying the legitimate medical uses of marijuana should be done though “real science” and “unbiased research,” and that takes time the ballot initiative wouldn’t allow for, according to the statement.

“This is how real progress is made, not by opening the state to uncontrolled access to the array of psychoactive substances in whole plant marijuana that harm children, then seeing what happens,” the board said.

Read more: Should medical cannabis be legal in Utah?

However, one UMA member said the opinion of the group’s board of directors wasn’t shared by UMA members overall.

“UMA’s position reflects nothing more than the opinion of its board,” said Dr. Don Dan Cottom, UMA member and the Utah Patient Coalition’s medical advisor. His statement was released though the coalition.

“Far from being based on research or science, let alone the consensus of the doctors they purport to represent, it is a position that does not speak for many doctors like myself who are prepared to provide this medicine for our patients,” Cottom said.

Cottom added the ballot will help relieve the suffering of hundreds of patients across Utah and he’s glad he added his name to those supporting it. That name is among over 160,000 across the state.

Read more: This St. George family hopes their child’s experience will make you think differently about medical cannabis

To qualify for the November ballot, initiatives need to gather 130,000 verified signatures from across 27 of the state’s 29 Senate districts. The deadline for the medical marijuana initiative and others is April 16.

As for overall support of medical marijuana, there has been a series of surveys done through Utah Policy throughout 2017 that showed around 75 percent of Utahns support it. A more recent poll showed that number to be 77 percent.

As reported by Fox 13 News, DJ Shanz, Utah Patients Coalition director, issued a response to the LDS Church’s statement.

The LDS Church should be commended for its concern with public health and safety – laudable goals we are pursuing with our proposal. Too many patients face criminalization and unrelated, dangerous products as they pursue their own health. Oversight from regulators and doctors, as provided by the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, would increase public health and safety while providing safe access to patients who need this treatment option.

Herbert said he will actively oppose the medical marijuana ballot initiative, as he considers it to be significantly flawed and also believes it to be a gateway to recreational marijuana.

While Utah lawmakers did pass laws this year related to allowing medical marijuana research within the state and giving terminally ill patients the right to try experimental marijuana-based medicines, the limited scope of the laws has largely frustrated medical marijuana advocates.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • jaybird April 10, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Why oh why does the church even have a say in this? People stop being sheep.

    • Whatteverrr April 10, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      If there was a way for church to make $$ from it, they would support it.

    • Striker4 April 10, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      It’s very simple. the LDS corporation runs this state always has and always will and that’s just the way it is …..the Governor is only doing what he is told to do.

      • HerePliggyWiggy April 11, 2018 at 8:03 am

        You got that right. Once these old relics who call themselves “Prophets” have a “revelation” about it i.e. figure out a way to tell their sheeple it’s ok, then Utah will have it. There’s billions in tax revenue just waiting for the “church-state-government” to squander on social programs which keep them in power.

    • high5 April 11, 2018 at 6:53 am


    • Death Valley April 11, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Utah is a theocracy started in the 1890’s and firmly planted in the 1950’s.
      In celebration, I intend to go to Mesquite today and bring something home.

      • Travis April 11, 2018 at 11:05 am

        dude !!!!!!!! Take old Rt. 91, beautiful ride through the mountains.

        • Death Valley April 11, 2018 at 11:35 am

          I live in Ivins, next to Kayenta. That is indeed a beautiful drive I take often. 🙂

      • mesaman April 11, 2018 at 9:04 pm

        There is protection for those who don’t want to bring something home.

  • Real Life April 10, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    What a shocking development. Next you’ll tell me that they want to give you a DUI for one beer. Just shocking.

  • PlanetU April 10, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    As usual, I say who cares about their opinion? Why does their approval/opinion matter? Maybe “supports opposition ” is a oxy-mormon.

    • comments April 10, 2018 at 9:46 pm

      an oxy-mormon, hahahaha

  • high5 April 11, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Wait until it’s Leagal – They will change there statement – they always roll with changes-
    They now call their home visiting n teaching to Mineristing – so to sound more Christian .
    It never ends- They just have to meddle in politics because they probably have investments in Big Pharma. Lmao

    • comments April 11, 2018 at 10:39 am

      yep, LDS bigwigs probably own shares in drug companies

      they’d prefer people get addicted to synthetic opioids rather than some plant that’s much less harmful and cheaper. Pop them oxies like candy… oxy-mormons.

      • Death Valley April 11, 2018 at 11:08 am

        Probably? Think about their location and its proximity to the U of U and all things medical. Now think about the fact that the new head of the church is a renowned heart surgeon. This whole thing smells so bad it makes a pig farm look like a rose garden. Puke worthy.

  • Travis April 11, 2018 at 11:04 am


  • max April 11, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    So much complaining and yet you are still here. Please remember that there are 49 other states that you are more then welcome to live in and take your problems with you. It is really simple. If you do not like it here, or the way things are done here. Leave.

  • thoughts1 April 11, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    As someone who has seen first hand the effects of marijuana addiction on individual lives and families, I am grateful that they want to be catious about moving forward. Maybe if more caution had been used in approving opioids, we wouldn’t have had such a epidemic problem with them now. I’m not comeplety opposed to medical marijuna. I believe in a controlled settting prescribed by a medical doctor, that it potentially could be beneficial for some. However, marijuana addiction is REAL! It is popular belief that marijuna is not addictive. It may not be addictive for everyone, but for some IT IS! And yes it can be a gateway drug to more dangerous substances. I’ve seen that also. So contrary to many, I am grateful that caution is being taken moving forward.

    • high5 April 11, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      Nope- not addicting or a Gateway- when u stop taking Cannabis- nothing happens-Get Drugged with opiates by your Dr n try stopping- you’ll cry for a pill n curl up in the bathroom hugging porcelain!!!!!!! I got off Dr Prescribed Pain Pills by using Cannabis!!!!!! Get Educated!’!!!! It’s a Natural God Givin Plant! The Human Body has Canabinoid receptors in it already! Coincidence? NOT!!! We Will Win. Face it! Look up Henry Anslinger- He’s Why Cannabis is Ileagal anyway!
      Sheeple. Sheeple. Lmfao

      • thoughts1 April 11, 2018 at 8:58 pm

        I actually am educated. Marijuana may not cause horrible physical side effects after stopping use of it, but IT IS addictive. I am currently living through its addictive effects with a family memeber as we speak. Thanks for your concern, but I’m actually very knowledgeable about marijuana. When you deal with how it is effecting your family member day in and day out, you do a lot of studying on it. Anyone who uses marijuana wants to believe it’s not addictive, and it may not be for everyone, but talk with almost any medical doctor and mental health counselor and they will let you know that it CAN be addictive. Is it a less dangerous drug than most….yes. But it still can create a great impact on its addictive users. And yes it CAN be a gateway drug also. My family memeber is proof of that. Once you put yourself in the drug world it becomes a lot easier to use other things as well. Take care!

        • PatriotLiberal April 12, 2018 at 12:38 am

          I have known MANY MANY marijuana users over my lifetime (from the ocassional user to the everyday) and I can’t think of a single one of them who smoked pot on Saturday night then woke up Sunday morning and said “Hey I survived Pot, I think I’ll try Heroin today”. Literally everything can be addictive. Cigarettes can be addictive, driving, homework, collecting junk, SODA can be addictive. Do you consider Soda to be a gateway drug? Probably not.

          Guns don’t shoot people, Marijuana doesn’t make people drug addicts.

          • thoughts1 April 12, 2018 at 7:35 am

            I never said that marijuana makes people drug addicts. But if you surround yourself with people who use other drugs, which can happen when you start using marijuana, it adds an additional likelihood that you will also use other drugs. It’s plain and simple. Do all marijuana users use other drugs? No. But my family member is proof that it does happen. Experience will always speak louder than words.
            You’re right there are a lot of things that are addictive. Nothing that anyone has an addiction to is healthy. It doesn’t matter what is. However if you’re talking about something like soda, the effects of a soda “addcition” are far less impactful than a marijuna addiction. Someone who drinks soda doesn’t steal from their family to go buy soda. They don’t fail school because they drink soda. They don’t lose motivation for accomplishing things because they drink soda. They don’t get in trouble with the law because they drink soda. They don’t ruin relationships because being able to drink the soda is more important than the person. That is my experience. That may not be yours, but you can’t tell someone who is actually living through real life experience with it, that they are wrong. Again experience speaks louder than words. It’s pretty difficult to be uneducated about something that you’re actually living proof of.

          • comments April 12, 2018 at 11:42 am

            your one experience of a family member who started with mj and moved on to hard drugs and became an addict doesn’t make for a general rule. yeah, if a person hangs around lowlifes that spend all day sitting around smoking dope, one these lowlifes might eventually bring some meth around and get the whole crew of idiots to try it. I’m actually all too aware of how these “drug crews” behave. They tend to be idiots with poor judgement, usually they are young 20s but behave as if they’re 12 year olds. Their drug friends mean the world to them. Sound familiar?

      • mesaman April 11, 2018 at 9:06 pm

        Spoken like a true hippy. You are 60 years too late to turn on, tune in, and drop out, but try it anyway.

        • thoughts1 April 11, 2018 at 11:19 pm

          Nope. Just letting people know what my family has experienced over the past year. I’m not just telling stories because I think marijuana is horrible. In fact in my very first comment I said I’m not complelty opposed to medical marijuana, but I feel like all of the facts about marijuana need to be understood before they make any decisions. A lot of Americans don’t understand all of the facts, and I believe we’re still discovering some, and will continue to do so. Whether you want to believe it or not, is up to you, but my family and others are proof of marijuana addiction. I would encourage you to do a little research on psychological addcition to marijuana. Best of luck!

          • high5 April 12, 2018 at 9:41 am

            Kinda like your addicted to making Your Personal Opinion Statments About Cannabis Public On This Site!
            You must have a juvinile using the Wrong Strain Of Cannabis. -The anointing oil used in the Old Testament is actually made up of cannabis, among other ingredients. In Exodus 30:22-23, the healing oil was made up of cinnamon, cassia, olive oil, myrrh, and kaneh-bosm. Bennett says that kaneh-bosm is one of the oldest names of cannabis.

          • comments April 12, 2018 at 10:05 am

            So in essence: “my family started smoking marijuana and moved from that to shooting heroin and meth, therefor marijuana is addictive and a gateway drug.”

            Sounds like you’re full of little anecdotes that don’t hold much water. Has anyone if your family been addicted to opioids? It’s natural that if your family turned out to be a bunch of drug addicts that your grasping at anything you can to lay the blame on. I’d even believe that mj can be “habit forming” but you’re just lumping it into the same category as meth, heroin, synthetic opioids, etc? It just seems clownish.

  • GrandmaB April 11, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Of course they are against it. Just like for years if you had one drop of black blood you were considered the most unclean, obscene human on the planet and sure could not hold the Priesthood. And we are listening to the Church, Why???????? A friend of mine just had same day, out patient surgery. She is an ex addict. She told them, no opioids. So, before she even woke up they had given her a massive shot of morphine and as she walked out the door a prescription for 48 vicodan. Guaranteed re-addiction. I will just bet you the church doesn’t say a word about the people that the medical community is deliberately dealing to, more addicts for pharmas bottom line. Does they church get a kickback??? But, don’t leglize the drug that could help with pain, and does in ENLIGHTENED areas of the world, without the side effects. I’m 68 years old and I think my country has gone insane. Hatch has guaranteed the destruction of a good portion of our Utah environment, dirty water, dirty air, and the church continues to back him. What does that tell you????

    • comments April 11, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      The church also is in favor of providing sanctuary to illegal aliens. The reason: 10% from an illegal is every bit as green as 10% from a citizen. LDS inc. is all about $$$ first and foremost.

  • ladybugavenger April 11, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I’ve been for legalization of marijuana for the fact it will open up resources to get violent offenders. But heres the deal: my heart is in the right place but there is so much corruption that the funding and resources will not be there.

    Take Oklahoma as an example, the casinos and lottery were to fund schools and roads and yet we have close to the worst funded education system. Teachers have been on strike for weeks, kids have worn out text books, broken chairs, and dirty bathrooms. Our roads are are full of potholes. Where did the money go? The tribes pay dues to the state for the casinos and the money is not going to the schools? Wheres it going?
    Wheres my property tax money going?

    I’m afraid, y’all will be asking the same questions if you get casinos and lottery and same for marijuana. It’s a shame that the rich get richer, more money is spent on inmates than schools, and taxes goes up and quality goes down.

    I’m in a quandry.

    I still think marijuana should be legal, I just won’t put my eggs in the basket of …it will help the resources for convicting violent offenders.

    • comments April 11, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      you make OK sound really bad.

      • ladybugavenger April 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm

        I don’t have kids in school. I’ve only read articles from people and teachers marching. The teachers got s $6,000 a year raise but kept marching for more funding for classrooms.

        The potholes, yes, there are potholes. Make marijuana legal and we can call it operation pot hole lol

        Just wondering,where the money goes.

        • ladybugavenger April 11, 2018 at 6:02 pm

          Maybe you can invent a material to pave roads that will withstand extreme temperature and be cost effective. Its snowed Saturday and it was 80 degrees today and its suppose to freeze this weekend ?.

          Oh! To be politically correct, it’s not a protest it’s a “march”

          • ladybugavenger April 11, 2018 at 6:05 pm

            Maybe y’all can appreciate the little things you have in that state. OK is #1 in education cuts.

  • thoughts1 April 12, 2018 at 11:06 am

    My family is not a bunch of drug addicts. In fact nobody in my family has ever used drugs, with the exception of this one family memeber. I have a right to share what my experience has been with marijuna, just the same as you can voice your opinion on it. I never said marijuana was like opioids, heroin, or anything else. I’m simply informing people of how marijuana has affected my family. People have a right to know that it’s not as harmless as so many of you claim it is. Plain and simple IT CAN BE addicitve. You can argue that all you want, but it’s a fact.
    I’m done commenting on here, people can continue to attack me, but your arguments won’t change my experience.

    • high5 April 12, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      I think we are glad ur done- Good Luck on your afflicted one- So Sorry : seriously.
      But when I see my friend adminerster cannabis oil to his child – that is in the beginning stages of a Siezure and it brings him back from thre ravages of it- I am convinced it’s Medicine. #freetheplant

    • ladybugavenger April 13, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      I’m just surprised she only has one person in her family that has done drugs. Is that statistically possible?

  • No Filter April 12, 2018 at 1:11 pm

    The church can say whatever it wants, nobody is listening but the sheep that stills believes their lies. The Mesquite dispensary is always about 3/4 full of Utah plates in it’s parking lot, and these aren’t young punk kids, it is usually older retired folks.

    • Death Valley April 12, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      You got that right. I’m 47 and I have been in the dispensary numerous times when good folks who are at least 20-30 years my senior are there talking to someone or standing in line getting their medicine. And Utah plates are almost all I ever see in the parking lot. Hehe… I bet ol’ Grumpy Gary Herbert can’t stand it but there’s not much he can do anyhow.

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