Church doubles down on opposition to medical marijuana initiative in Utah

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made its position very clear on the medical marijuana initiative in Utah on the November ballot: it is opposed.

The Church says, however, that it favors using marijuana for certain medicinal purposes under controlled circumstances.

According to this story:

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

But Elder Gerard said the church is “deeply concerned” that the initiative does not contain “proper controls” on marijuana use, and also has worries about other states having “experienced serious consequences to the health and safety of” their residents due to marijuana laws that are too permissive.

Elder Gerard also urged Utahns to vote no on the initiative.

“We call on lawmakers, patients and community leaders to come together to find an appropriate solution to benefit all Utahns,” he said.

The Utah Medical Association, as well as Drug Safe Utah — a political issues committee formed to directly oppose the initiative — were also on hand to announce the new coalition and criticize the ballot measure as a bad solution for Utahns.

Both groups have previously slammed the initiative as a loosely regulated policy measure making recreational use possible.

“The marijuana initiative appearing as Proposition 2 on the ballot this November does not strike the appropriate balance in ensuring safe and reasonable access for patients while also protecting youth and preventing other societal harms,” Utah Medical Association CEO Michelle McOmber said in a statement on behalf of the coalition.

You can read more about Proposition 2 in Utah here.

Most polls show widespread support for Proposition 2, and political analysts believe it will pass despite opposition from the Church and most prominent Utah politicians.

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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.

24 thoughts on “Church doubles down on opposition to medical marijuana initiative in Utah

  1. To my conservative friends: the Church is correct on its position on immigration.

    To my liberal/progressive friends: the Church is correct on its position on same-sex attraction and gender.

    To my libertarian friends: the Church is correct on its position on marijuana.

    The Church is always correct.

  2. I’m voting FOR the initiative. I have friends who are enduring a lot of pain and suffering and are being criminalized if they use this beneficial herb to alleviate their pain.

  3. I’m surprised the Church would get involved in this. I agree with the Church’s position, but I think most people do not really understand the known and potential risks of marijuana use and the initiative will pass. And the Church will have expended political capital on something that most people will not see as within their purview.

  4. “The church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form from a licensed pharmacy“

    This is the best approach, I really don’t get why people would complain or criticise such position. Self medication can be very dangerous, as we learned with aspirin, antibiotics, laxatives, etc. If peer reviewed research shows THC-derived medication is better than placebo for epilepsy, depression, or what have you, then a doctor should prescribe it like any other drug. Otherwise, we will see increassing problems like the ones we are witnessing in Colorado and other states were recreational use was legalized.

    Sure, perhaps some people have benefited from its legalization, but those are anecdotes, and everyone has an anecdote. Anecdotes are not suitable replacement for actual clinical trials, and it is irresponsible to use anecdotes as evidence for safety or unsafety of a new medication.

  5. The single greatest benefit of the wave of legalization we’re seeing is that serious research on cannabis can finally happen. The knowledge base on this is laughably small, and almost entirely anecdotal. It will take years of work to genuinely establish treatments and dosage levels, so I’m glad it’s finally getting started.

    As regards the Church spending political capital in opposition, I don’t think what’s described above is opposition. It’s support for those who have genuine need, and extremely conservative skepticism about the wild claims of those seeking wholesale and radical change. And that’s fine. Somebody has to voice that stance, if only to keep the conversation honest.

  6. From 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. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).”

  7. A friend from UT posted on FB about her frustration. Initially she was heartened that the church wanted to discuss it, but was disheartened when she realized that it supported only dispensing from a pharmacy. My understanding is that bc of federal law, this will not be happening anytime soon. Personally, I feel conflicted on the right course of action. There are many who are seeing benefits from the CBD oil that don’t have other options. My understanding is that this is not causing any highs or being used as a recreational drug, and it saddens me to criminalize the use of it in this form. However, being a CA resident, it seems pretty clear that the medical marijuana industry is being used in large part for recreational drug use. With my somewhat limited knowledge, I would support use of the CBD oil- like we use other essential oils, but still criminalize the form that has THC and is smoked etc. As I said, I know I am not an expert, but allowing the CBD oil seems to have little downside.

  8. Just FYI: you can get CBD oil today legally through the mail anywhere in the U.S., including Utah. What you cannot get is products with THC, and some of the medical benefits of MJ come from THC.

  9. Lots of Murmuring Mormons as a result of this announcement.

    You can’t handle being asked to vote No on Prop 2 but think you’ll be able to consecrate all of your belongings, time and talents when the time comes?

    Yeah, right.

  10. Not everything that comes from church leaders is God’s law. I firmly believe that Heavenly Father does speak through his prophet, seers and revelators. But again, not everything church leaders say is God’s law.

    I acknowledge what General Authorities said about this issue. I also acknowledge that they also said that every church member (and everybody else as well) should carefully study the preposition and learn about its potential consequences and then make an informed decision.

    I’m not allowed to vote on this initiative so the following is hypothetical:
    I would vote in favor of the use of marijuana for medical purposes. I personally think with my current knowledge that the changes far outweigh the risks.

    That being said I don’t really see any consistency here by the opponents (not necessarily the church). Tobacco causes tens of thousands of deaths every single year in Utah. But tobacco can be bought in every grocery store. We try to protect youths by setting a minimum age. The same is true for alcohol regarding deaths, availability and protection of youths. However with marijuana we act like it would be more poisonous than tobacco or alcohol.

    Prohibition will always create the need for more laws, more police, more gangs, mobsters and violence. But prohibitional mandates will never eradicate the use of any prohibited substance.

    Every pharmacy carry tons of drugs with potential harmful or addictive effects. We try to protect against abuse by requiring a prescription. And of course still a lot of abuse will happen. But we do not ban all those drugs.

    So yes, I clearly see a double standard here.

  11. I don’t actually disagree with the Church’s stance regarding the need for a doctor and a prescription being involved and all that. Unfortunately, because of federal law, that simply is not possible at this time. Pharmacies can’t dispense it, making the Church’s proposal of finding a “better” solution a literal impossibility. Meanwhile, every time I go to the doctor, I’m facing the possibility that the pain regimen I’ve been on for almost a decade is not going to be continued and that what little quality of life I have will plummet. I have no idea if medical marijuana would help me, but it helps plenty of other people with chronic illnesses. If tobacco, with all the harm it has caused and continues to cause, has a medicinal use as stated by God, it seems to me that marijuana has such a purpose too.

  12. Pharmacies can’t dispense it, making the Church’s proposal of finding a “better” solution a literal impossibility.


    If pharmacies can’t dispense it, why would an ethical institution attempt to cloud the issue by posing it as a better solution? If I had a child with a seizure disorder and I voted based on the church’s recommendation only to find out after the fact that I’d been misled I’d not only be furious but I’d lose my respect for the institution that misled me. But that’s not really even the issue. The issue would be that my child would continue not to have the relief that medical marijuana might have provided.

  13. Pharmacies could dispense it if this question were taken to the federal government to address the issue there. It isn’t impossible, it is just the way this should be decided. The roadblock there us that you can’t win on the federal level with the flimsy, anecdotal and frankly dishonest program being put forward by the proponents of Prop 2.

  14. Michael, are you saying why provide relief to people suffering in UT now when they might get relief in the next decade or two if the federal government relents?

    Just how likely do you think that possibility would be?

  15. If Proposition 2 passes it would no longer be illegal in UT and I doubt there’s very much likelihood of the federal government pressing the issue. And besides, I’d risk it for my kid if it could help them.

  16. Alice, but that is exactly the point. Right now, MJ possession, sale and distribution are illegal pursuant to Utah and Federal law. Prop 2 only addresses Utah law, leaving Federal law completely intact. Everyone involved in the MJ trade would be committing felonies pursuant to federal law. To suggest otherwise is dishonest.

  17. It’s also still in violation of federal law in 30 states that presently permit either medical or recreational use of marijuana but I can’t remember hearing of a single federal detention. In fact, it seems to me that it would actually hasten the time when it can be dispensed by pharmacies to have additional states legalize it for medical applications.

  18. I have mixed feelings about legalizing substances that can be abused. “Prohibition will always create the need for more laws, more police, more gangs, mobsters and violence.” There are also those who become addicted to them because “it is legal” who would not have if it were illegal.

    I get where the church is coming from. They are stating the best practice. That it should be prescribed and made available from a pharmacy. Federal law would have to change for that to happen.

    I also see the frustration of those who seem to gain benefit from a herb. They seem to be using good judgement and gaining benefit from it. I would not want to make it illegal for this.

    More at

  19. Medical marijuana is tantamount to legalization for recreational use and usually leads to that eventually. In Nevada, when medical marijuana was legalized, billboards sprouted up along the major highways for “Dr. Pot” other doctors who would give anyone a medical marijuana card for $300. There are always plenty of crooked doctors who are willing to cash in.

  20. You are right. But the same is or can be true for any and all substances with potential abuse risks. Think about certain kinds of pain medications.

    We believe in having free agency. And we remember that Satan also once wanted to save mankind … without free agency. And if we believe in free agency being essential to our eternal progress, we cannot on the one hand preach this wholeheartedly and on the other hand force people to do or not to do certain things with their own bodies.

    Is recreational use of marijuana wrong and harmful? Yes! The church speaks against it. Is using tobacco for anything else than medical reasons wrong and harmful? Yes! The church speaks against it. Would anybody seriously like to ban it? No. Is alcohol for anything else than medical purposes wrong and harmful? Yes! And the church speaks against it. Would anybody seriously like to ban it? No. Is [$GENERIC_SUBSTANCE] wrong and….
    You get it.

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