Although the Mormon Church has been in vehement opposition to an initiative designed to legalize a statewide medical marijuana program, it appears that is no longer the case. An apparent “compromise” has been reached between the church, cannabis advocates and Governor Gary Herbert, according to various reports. So, just like that, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has always maintained an anti-drug policy for its parishioners, now supports marijuana for therapeutic use.
That means that no matter what happens in the upcoming November election, medical marijuana will have an opportunity to move forward. Herbert says he intends to bring lawmakers in for a special session after the midterm election to hash out a palatable deal, regardless of how the election pans out. If voters approve Proposition 2, the initiative will be revised to make good on the compromise. If it fails, the issue will be brought to the table under a similar model.
“Today we have a group of people who’ve come together to help create a better policy than exists in Proposition 2, which will provide for us to have access to safe cannabis-based treatments and really a framework for true medical marijuana use,” Herbert saidat a press conference.
The Mormon faith was initially against the concept of medical marijuana because of concerns that it would spiral into widespread use. This attitude put the church at odds with the majority of the voters. A poll released earlier this year found 77 percent of the voting public is in support of medical marijuana.
So, the compromise, which, according to Herbert, will focus on the unintended consequences of legalization, should prove beneficial for all parties involved. It is at least a sign that the issue of medical marijuana is no longer considered taboo in conservative Utah.
But that doesn’t mean that the church supports Proposition 2. Elder Jack Gerard said it continues to oppose the language of the initiative, but that it would, to some degree, stop campaigning so desperately against it. The compromise is what the church is behind wholeheartedly.
“We believe it creates a framework that is good for patients, their caregivers, is good for children, and in our mind, that’s good for Utah,” Gerard said.
Is there a chance the deal will fall through?
That doesn’t seem likely. The agreement reportedly has the full support of the church and the Republican-dominated state legislature. All of the controversial points included in Proposition 2 have been eliminated, which has put opposing forces at ease. The compromise will not come with a home cultivation provision, nor will permit edibles that are attractive to children. Smoking will be banned. Also, medical marijuana will be distributed exclusively through local health departments.
Still, medical marijuana advocates were quick to take the deal to prevent foreseeable hassles if Proposition 2 was victorious at the polls.