The Mormon Church has demonstrated its lack of support for the medical marijuana ballot initiative in Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement Tuesday that drugs intended to relieve pain and suffering should be scrutinized and tested by official medical institutions before release to the public. Around two-thirds of the state’s residents are Mormons.
In a statement, the Mormon church commended the powerful Utah Medical Association’s recent stance, which opposed medical marijuana and cautioned 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,” read the statement on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ website. “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.”
A Salt Lake City Tribune poll stated that 76 percent of Utahns and nearly two-thirds of Utah Mormons support medical marijuana legalization earlier this year. But a vocal minority opposing such legalization gains steam in what almost appears a coordinated effort.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced late last month he would opposed the medical marijuana ballot initiative, citing its “significant flaws,” that voters are expected to decide upon this November. His statement was shortly followed by the UMA’s statement, mentioned above, which included the following stance bolded and italicized: “UMA unequivocally states its opposition to the current initiative and applauds Gov. Herbert for speaking out in opposition as well.”
How the Mormon church backing the position of fellow influential institutions will play out remains unknown. But supporters of the medical marijuana initiative have already spoken out. The Salt Lake City Tribune columnist Robert Gehrke broke down the hypocrisy of the Mormon church’s opposition in Utah, but not in a state with recreational marijuana like Nevada.
The Utah Patients Association, supportive of the initiative, also pushed back against the UMA representing the opinion of all Utah doctors. UPA’s medical adviser, Dr. Dan Cottam, issued a statement saying he we never consulted for his opinion and the UMA’s opposition only reflects the opinion of its board.
“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,” Cottam said. “The initiative will relieve the suffering of hundreds of patients each year.”