Church asks members to oppose legal marijuana, assisted suicide

This Deseret News article says it all:

The LDS Church’s First Presidency is asking the faith’s members in four western states to oppose bills that would legalize doctor-assisted suicide and recreational marijuana use.

Church President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors sent a letter Wednesday to Mormons in Colorado, where Proposition 106 would legalize physician-assisted suicide.

“We urge church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to measures that would legalize physician-assisted suicide,” said the letter signed by President Monson, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who make up the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They sent a similar letter Wednesday to Mormons in Arizona, California and Nevada about marijuana legislation.

“We urge church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana use,” the letter said.

I don’t think the Church could have been more clear:  the Brethren oppose the legalization of marijuana, and they want members to make it clear that they oppose the legalization of marijuana. Taken in conjunction with the Church’s opposition to medical marijuana in Utah, it seems clear to me at least that our leaders do not want latter-day Saints to support marijuana legalization in any form.  (Note to readers:  there may be some nuances that I am not aware of:  if you disagree with my description of the Church’s position, please let me know in the comments).

I am a libertarian-leaning person, and I voted for marijuana legalization in Colorado.  To be clear on my position:  I don’t think anybody should use any drug, including cannabis, recreationally.  I think recreational marijuana is bad for you.  My support of legalization in Colorado is primarily on practical grounds:  many juries will not convict people for MJ possession or for growing MJ because of overwhelming support for marijuana legalization in Colorado.  So, cops used to spend months tracking down violators, and prosecutors used to spend months putting together a case, but then juries would let people go because they thought marijuana should be legal.  It was getting to the point where prosecutors could not even empanel a jury.  So, from a purely practical standpoint, it didn’t make sense (in my mind) for police and prosecutors to spend time on such a losing cause.

So, how should I respond to the Church’s growing opposition to MJ legalization?

I should support the Brethren.

What this means is that to me at least is 1)they reflect God’s will 2)as prophets, seers and revelators, they have information and knowledge of the big picture that I do not 3)they are “watchmen on the tower” and can warn members of threats that I may not be able to see 4)I should follow their advice.

To paraphrase a statement in social media from my friend Jeff Thayne, what good is having a prophet if you are just going to follow your own worldly reason and ideology anyway?  Over time, many members have made the (incorrect in my opinion) choice to ignore prophetic advice because it clashed with their personal views.

Said President Harold B. Lee:

You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153]

So, the Church’s opposition to marijuana legalization clashes with my personal views.  I have only one choice:  I must bend my will to the Church’s position, rather than express opposition and try to bend the Church to my position.  If I cannot do this, I should remain quiet, pray and wait and ask for personal revelation on the issue.  That revelation may take some time.

I have many friends who have big problems with the Church’s history on polygamy, and I have encouraged them, if they cannot reconcile these problems, to put the issues on a “shelf” while they go about doing their Church callings and taking care of their family and helping their community.  I have faith that at some point believing members of the Church will find a way be at peace.  This same advice applies on the issues of MJ and assisted suicide.

When you look at the big picture, the Brethren are challenging people of just about every political ideology to follow them.  Liberals/progressives have problems with the Church’s positions on same-sex marriage, gender and “equality.”  Some conservatives have problems with the Church’s positions on immigration and refugees.  And some liberals/progressives and libertarians are going to disagree with the Church’s positions on marijuana legalization.

Several of my libertarian friends have already argued in social media against the Church’s position on MJ legalization, and this is, in my opinion, a huge mistake.  I can see no difference between libertarians opposing the Church on MJ and Mormons in Name Only complaining about the Church’s position on same-sex attraction and gender issues.   I repeat:  what good is it to have a modern prophet if you are just going to ignore his advice?

When it comes to assisted suicide, which is on the ballot in Colorado in November, I was already going to vote against that.  If you want to know the reasons why, please re-read the Des News article at the beginning of this post.




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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

18 thoughts on “Church asks members to oppose legal marijuana, assisted suicide

  1. Mark, thanks for that. I knew there were some nuances. I believe the second bill, that the Church did not oppose, took THC out of the cannabis, therefore allowing medical use without people getting high.

  2. I think that the Church also had concerns about the technical provisions of one of last year’s 2 medical marijuana bills, and how effective they would be at controlling the distribution of the substances in question.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Church absolutely opposes medical marijuana; I think they just want to go slow until further research becomes available.

  3. I am not an expert on the history, but I understand that much of the population of Utah voted in favor of repealing Prohibition ( ). I note that, in spite of Pres. Grant’s strong rhetoric in favor of prohibition, the Church has not called for a return to prohibition since then. What parallels do you see between those who voted against Pres. Grant’s position on alcohol and those today who might vote against the 1st Presidency’s position on marijuana?

  4. I think many libertarian leaning church members overlook that the church has never bought into the whole “you can’t legislate morality” fashion so popular among the electorate when it comes to eroding traditional morals.

    As if giving welfare to single moms didn’t have a moral component to the question!

    The broader point the church frequently makes is the indivisional members of society have a stake in promoting rules that create a healthy and functioning society.

    By definition ssm, euthanasia, marijuana are detrimental to society. Where they’ve never been asserted as rights prior to now, we have a legitimate reason to debate and vote on their acceptance.

    There’s never been confusion in my mind which way the Lord or his servants would vote on these issues.

  5. “What parallels do you see between those who voted against Pres. Grant’s position on alcohol and those today who might vote against the 1st Presidency’s position on marijuana?”

    I see the parallels of Church members refusing to heed a prophet’s instruction.

  6. I think that many members (and likely many leaders) would be fine with MJ being illegal, but the small users and distributors not being prosecuted. This is akin to people speeding on the highway by my house. Strict enforcement is just not worth the effort. Some spot enforcement, usually of egregious violators, makes the law still valid, but the penalties less draconian.
    The push to make recreational use legal will diminish if punishment is infrequent and targeted at large distributors, etc. Parents, teachers, employers, etc. can still teach prohibition and enforce it in their domain, but users can still use it discreetly.
    One thing I would like to see is drug testing for gov’t welfare benefits. People who want to toke up should not be bothered, but should not be getting food stamps, extended unemployment benefits, or other handouts. Many jobs are not available for users, this should be the encouragement to reduce drug use.

  7. I remember the 70’s when the church came out against the Equal Rights Amendment. Oh my, the uproar that caused. But everything the prophets said would happened if it passed has actually come to pass! At least it was slower in coming than sooner, but Satan never gives up. They truly are watchmen on the tower who can see more than we in the trenches. Our fight song should be “Who’s on the Lord’s Side, Who?” Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. If the church is true, that is, if it is what it claims to be, then Thomas Monson sits in the same seat previously occupied by Brigham Young, Joseph Smith Jr., St. Peter, Nathan, Samuel, Joshua, Moses, Abraham, Shem, Noah, etc.

  9. “I see the parallels of Church members refusing to heed a prophet’s instruction.”

    Nailed it!

  10. Ironically medical use of marijuana is a very popular issue with libertarians but there are a number of effective remedies for serious diseases such as cancer that have been suppressed by the government without much outcry. The primary difference is that they have no ‘recreational’ use. I am for the legal prosecution of producers and sellers of recreational drugs but against the ‘war on drugs’ that uses the purported growth or use of drugs to war on the populace. As an example, I am interested in aquaponics and hydroponics as a means of producing food at home. However many people growing tomatoes in their basement have been threatened with arrest because it mimics what is done by marijuana growers including the use of grow lamps. The same companies who provide the environment for homegrown marijuana are providers of the materials for homegrown vegetables. It is rather strange to get my grow baskets and nutrients in plain brown packages to avoid possible prosecution. As for assisted suicide it is now spreading to the killing of children who are inconvenient or ill. Thank God for Prophets.

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