LDS church, others OK with medical marijuana but not how Proposition 2 would do it

Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy and member of a coalition to find alternatives to the medical marijuana initiative on the Utah ballot, speaks at a press conference at the State Office Building Auditorium, Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 23, 2018 | Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined in a coalition with other faith groups, law enforcement, medical professionals and others Thursday urging Utahns to vote against the medical marijuana ballot initiative known as Proposition 2.

The coalition, known as Drug Safe Utah, held a press conference voicing collective support for medical marijuana, but not the means by which it would be legalized in the state should Proposition 2 pass in November.

The church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form, through a licensed pharmacy,” said LDS Elder Jack N. Gerard, of the Seventy.

“We are deeply concerned by the history of other states that have allowed for medical or recreational use of this drug without the proper controls and have experienced serious consequences to the health and safety of their citizens. Therefore, we urge the voters of Utah to vote no on Proposition 2. We call on lawmakers, patients and community leaders to come together to find an appropriate solution to benefit all Utahns.”

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The anti-Proposition 2 coalition press conference, courtesy of Fox 13 News.

It is estimated that Mormons make up 60 percent of Utah’s population.

The church originally stated its opposition in May through a legal analysis of the ballot initiative conducted by the Kirton McConkie law firm. Church officials said the analysis “raises great concerns” about the consequences the initiative may have if passed by voters.

Read more: LDS church steps up opposition to Utah medical marijuana initiative

Like other faith groups, the LDS church cannot endorse political candidates but can weigh in on public policy issues without its tax-exempt status being threatened.

A part of the coalition’s overall statement reads:

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.

The coalition consists of the Utah Medical Association, Utah Sheriffs Association, Utah PTA Association, Episcopal Diocese of Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, Utah Eagle Forum, Fraternal Order of Police, Utah Narcotics Officers Association, Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lakes, Latinos in Action and many groups.

“Our coalition has come together to educate the citizens of Utah about the substantial flaws in this initiative and the risks and consequences to out youth, our community and our citizens at large,” Utah businessman Kem Gardner said.

Elder Jack N. Gerard, of the Seventy (center), stands with other representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in stating the church’s opposition to Proposition 2, Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 23, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Fox 13 News, St. George News

Gardner said he wasn’t against the scientifically proven use of medical marijuana and its sale through pharmacies or state-run facilities. In contrast, he said Proposition 2 would allow marijuana brownies and gummies “in corner pot shops.”

The sentiment of support for the use of medical marijuana, yet opposition to Proposition 2 being the vehicle for its legalization, was echoed by others who spoke during Thursday’s event.

The Utah Medical Association, which represents many medical professionals across the state, has been vocal in its opposition to the medical cannabis initiative.

“We’ve been studying the medical marijuana issue for many years and have consistently recognized there is a place for cannabis-based medications in the tool box of my profession,” the UMA’s Adam Taintor said.

“Some have questioned why the association has been so adamantly opposed to Proposition 2 and its important goal of adding another tool at the disposal of physicians and their patients. The short answer is that Proposition 2 is not about medicine. It is a poor disguised initiative to allow recreational use into the state. Taking a vote on a ballot initiative does not make something medicine.”

Read more: Lawsuit seeking to block medical marijuana initiative argues it violates religious, other freedoms

Various speakers expressed concern the proposition would negatively impact the state’s children.

Medical marijuana advocate and user Enedina Stanger speaks in favor of medical marijuana legalization in Utah, but against Proposition 2, believing it does not have the interest of patients at heart, Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 23, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Fox 13 News, St. George News

“Marijuana use can damage the developing brain, cause addiction, affect memory and impair motor skills,” said DeAnn Ketternring of the Utah PTA Association.

“While we do support further research and legislation toward making cannabis medications more available, we do not believe this proposition effectively accomplishes that task. Rather, it puts the children and youth of Utah at risk for greater harm.”

Medical marijuana advocates were also among coalition, including Enedina Stanger, who has used medical marijuana to help ease the pain caused by a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.

She said that at times the condition left her in a wheelchair, but she was walking and stood while addressing media at the press conference. She credits being able to walk again to a strict regimen that includes medical marijuana as a “key component.”

To legally use the medical marijuana that helps ease her condition, Stanger had to leave Utah for Colorado.

Read more: Poll shows more than 75 percent of Utahns support medical marijuana ballot initiative – from 2017

“My desire to have medical marijuana legalized in Utah is not only to allow my family to return home, but to ease the suffering of so many patients,” she said. “However, I do not believe Proposition 2 is that way. I believe it does not have the true interest of patients at heart.”

Medical marijuana advocates who favor Proposition 2 turn their backs on speakers at an anti-Proposition 2 press conference who said they support the use of medical marijuana, but not how Proposition 2 would bring it about if passed by Utah voters, Salt Lake City, Utah, Aug. 23, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Fox 13 News, St. George News

As the press conference progressed, supporters of Proposition 2 could be seen shaking their heads and at one point turning their backs on those speaking.

Utah law currently allows for the regulated use of CBD oils for the treatment of epilepsy and recently passed a law enabling terminally ill patients a right to try medical marijuana.

The state also passed regulation of store-bought CBD oils to ensure they are what they claim to be, and not another substance that could be potentially harmful.

Polls conducted over the past two years have shown that a majority of Utahns support medical cannabis legalization.

The Utah Patients Coalition, the group behind the medical marijuana initiative, responded to the press conference over social media.

“Prop 2 is the best chance of providing access to patients with heavy safeguards and protections to minimize abuse. It is the compassionate approach, and it’s an actual proposal, unlike the non-proposal offered up at today’s press conference,” the group said on its Facebook page.

The medical marijuana advocacy group TRUCE also issued a statement, in part saying:

No answers were given in today and no alternative was offered to the ballot initiative. What was offered was more talk, more negotiations and more falsehoods. We are incredibly disappointed in the statement released today because their arguments are factually incorrect and harmful to the welfare of patients. It is important for those of us who are suffering that we all live in the truth.

A number of state lawmakers and other prominent Utahns also oppose Proposition 2, including some representing Southern Utah. Among those are:

  • U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart
  • U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop
  • Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor, Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services
  • Mitt Romney, candidate for U.S. Senate
  • Don Ipson, Utah state senator
  • Ralph Okerlund, Utah state senator
  • Evan Vickers, Utah state senator
  • Walt Brooks, Utah state representative
  • Merrill Nelson, Utah state representative
  • Lowry Snow, Utah state representative

A full list of the people and groups supporting the Drug Safe Utah coalition can be found here.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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

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  • great success August 23, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    They’re not okay with marijuana in any way. Complete lie. Doublespeak. Avoiding transparency as usual. Where’s your urgent emails to your members, LDS admin, about our opioid epidemic? Too much money tied up in Pharma stock? I’m glad Jesus is a capitalist in this day and age!

  • Red2Blue310 August 23, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    The reason for separation of church and state. Tax the church. It meddles in politics.

    • tazzman August 24, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      Okay so do the same for the Catholic Church for meddling in immigration policy. I agree.

  • LocalTourist August 23, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    These people are liars and charlatans.
    The guy that said he wrote it,….. didn’t. The guy that said he had to quit using it, lied…he still uses it.
    Only weeks ago, Enedina said she’d be willing to support Prop 2 if she could be “the face” of Prop 2. She wanted a contract and wanted to be paid.

    These people are speaking as puppets of the church, and assuring their place in hell for deception.

  • Kilroywashere August 23, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    I get the fact that the LDS Church doesn’t want marijuana to be legal in this state under any circumstances. Just put it up for a vote and let the Utah public decide. Since 60% of the state is Mormon, then what are you worried about? Marijuana has been on this planet and used by man for 1000s and 1000s of years for both medicinal, recreational, and even religious purposes. (SEE the ancient Scythian civilization) It no doubt can be abused like any substance, but it does have healing properties. And unlike many anti-anxiety drugs, it has no history of leading to suicidal thoughts. It is also not physically addicting. With that being said, I think that medical dispensaries will shift the culture, and I can understand the angst that poses to the LDS Church. Also they may view it as a stepping stone to legal marijuana. However let’s allow the people to decide and stop undermining the political process with lawsuits. That’s all I ask. Let’s all be transparent. Marijuana is not for me, but for some people it creates a quality of life.

  • Nobody August 24, 2018 at 5:00 am

    Yup here we go again, this church will not stop. All Mormon puppets, an attempt to sway the public in order to achieve the desired result. They obviously have some kind of financial interest tied up in this. They may pull the wool over the members eyes….as for the rest of us normal people, well…not so much. I just can not believe the amount of kicking and screaming they are doing. Then again I can. As for the Police supporting this, that does not surprise me, anybody listen to a scanner radio lately? The amount of Marijuana related arrests down here is ridiculous, it’s a staple for them. How about going after the harder drugs and all the molesters down here, instead of busting people for speeding and pot day and night??? I hope this passes, that’s all I can say.

  • Carpe Diem August 24, 2018 at 7:26 am

    THC and CBD are the “answers to prayer” for many suffering a myriad of health issues. Cannabis is likely the most underutilized, natural, non addicting medicine on the planet.

    And so we actually don’t need a ballot initiative… Where is the Church’s voice supporting lawmakers to pass a bill allowing this medicine….??? No, they fear it because they don’t understand it. Not enough of them have children with debilitating seizures that are effectively treated, for instance.

    Have they come to understand opioids? Seems like the list above is of people with numb skulls.


  • Carpe Diem August 24, 2018 at 7:27 am

    BTW I WILL be voting this November, and FOR this and AGAINST Romney.

  • HerePliggyWiggy August 24, 2018 at 8:21 am

    I guarantee you once the Mormon church figures out a way to “approve” both medicinal and recreational use without coming off as money-hungry hypocrites, the parking lot at Deep Roots Harvest will be devoid of Utah license plates. Utah may be 60 percent Mormon, but a good percentage of them are patrons at both Lee’s and DRH.

    • Carpe Diem August 24, 2018 at 9:57 am

      It’s about time the Church was rebuked at the polls.

  • Josh August 24, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Well, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I didn’t approve of this email at first. It is unethical to not allow treatment to many people suffering from varying diseases and disabilities. However, I read through the proposition then reread the Church’s statement and understood why they said no. They want doctors to prescribe marijuana in a specific dose to be filled at a pharmacy. Above in the article, a picture states that no other state who has legalized marijuana has done this. This is because marijuana is a schedule 1 drug which means it cannot be prescribed by a doctor and filled at a pharmacy per federal regulations. I agree 100% that marijuana has shown medical promise time and time again. As such it does not fulfill what the schedule 1 drug defintion is “Substances in [schedule 1] have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” ( I believe that marijuana needs to be lowered to at least a schedule 2 which will require action at the federal level. Additional research will need to be done though because research hasn’t been done on effective doses for varying degrees of relief. (Correct me if I am wrong on that.) Even though I am a firm believer in medical marijuana, I could not vote for this until it is able to be regulated at a level just like Xanax or ritalin.

  • sheepobserver August 24, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    I bet if they let the church grow it, sell it, and profit from it………

    It’d be here tomorrow.

    Just a suggestion. Someone has got to be the middle man.

    • HerePliggyWiggy August 28, 2018 at 8:27 am

      You are SOOOOOO correct!

  • AnnieMated August 24, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Opioids and many current legal medicines kill hundreds of people per year but we hear not one peep from the MORMONS about that. I wonder why? Marijuana has never killed anyone. Is it addictive? Yes. Everything is addictive to somebody. Food is addictive. If you don’t believe that just take a look at how many fat people we have rolling around the streets at any given time. So is alcohol, teddy bears, candy, video games, medicine, etc. The list goes on and on. Every single one of those things is legal and yet every single one of those things is harmful to the person who is addicted to it. What’s different about Marijuana?

    • Anon August 24, 2018 at 3:19 pm

      Actually, the Church as an extensive 12 step program in the area to help those dealing with addiction of any kind. And you are right, anything can be addictive. However, being addicted to a teddy bear isn’t quite the same as being addictive to alcohol or prescription meds. I believe the point here is the same with any controlled substance, the potential harm of others. One thing I have always wondered is if there has ever been a study done on second-hand marijuana smoke.

  • tazzman August 24, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    More double speak from the LDS Church.

  • Anon August 24, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    I’m almost 95% sure that the Church is no longer non-profit. I seem to remember about ten years ago or so that they changed their corporate status and pay taxes specifically so that their non-profit status couldn’t be threatened if they spoke out against something the government didn’t like.

  • Zareya November 5, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    i’ve resided in saint george for about 4 years now (i am 22 years of age) i grew up in des moines iowa. I am diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder,manic depression,adhd,add,ocd, i’ve taken approximately 150 different prescription medications for my disorders and mental health issues in the last 12 years and i must say it’s been hell trying to find a cocktail of pills to pop to help me, so thinking outside the box i did a lotta bit of research of marijuana, watched documentaries, read books, hundreds of online articles on the subject and it all to me sounded like marijuana (and cbd products) have a high potential for helping and possibly save lives so i did what any curious teen does at 18 (i was 18 when i moved to southern utah) and went to see for myself if it was all true or not, so, i called a friend of mine who, well, lets say has been in the other side of the law, and asked if he knew anywhere to buy a little bit of pot at, he said yes and,well, you all know how it goes. Product in hand i go to my brothers house and he shows my how to craft a apple pipe,so blah,blah,blah and now i’m trying this so called “medication” and may i add the affects from my disorders were things such as not sleeping correctly,anger/hostility,severe depression,suicidal thoughts ect. Anyway i knew how prescription pills worked ,give in like a week or 2 for you body to get used to them before you see really much results so i decided to do the same with cannabis i started with just smoking a little before work in the morning, a little on my 1 hour lunch break and before bed ,and i understand as of right now in current time it is a schedule 1 drug and therefore is 100% illegal in utah so please don’t reply with any legal bs. And continuing my story the first day using cannabis i really didn’t know if i was medicated due to the fact that i never used cannabis prior, but i did receive an unusually good nights sleep and from the next morning on my symptoms starting rapidly disappearing (i mean a little problems here and the but nothing major) and as of right now i am a firm believer in medical cannabis (as well as recreational marijuana use) and i’ve been steadily consuming cannabis for the last 4 years (predominantly for the deeps roots harvest dispensary) and i have became incredibly happier,sleep great and have minimized any mental health problems. All i am tryna say here is that we can keep poisoning the utah population with unneeded opioids and benzodiazepines or we can maximize progress in patients by legalizing marijuana and marijuana products thank you

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