Representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other organizations spoke in opposition of Utah’s medical cannabis initiative on Aug. 23 at the state’s Capitol Hill.
The coalition, comprised of medical professionals, church leaders, educators, law enforcement and business leaders spoke at a press event at the Utah State Capitol. In a statement read by Michelle McOmber of the Utah Medical Association, the coalition voiced concerns over other states’ problems with medical cannabis leading to more drug use, higher impaired driving rates and hospitalizations, among other concerns.
“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,” she read. “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.”
Not everyone on the list could be confirmed. Chris Stewart, United States Congressman, told The Salt Lake Tribune that his inclusion on the list came as a surprise.
The opposition to Proposition 2 by the Mormon church is hardly new, though before the church has only issued voicing their issues and praising opinions against the initiative. The press conference was the first time an LDS church leader has made a public statement regarding Prop. 2.
“The Church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form, through a licensed pharmacy,” said Elder Jack N. Gerard, a member of the coalition. “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.”
“Our hope and expectation is to bring the broader community together, including all those who have a lot of experience and understanding in what we can do as followers of Jesus Christ to relieve human pain and suffering and to help those afflicted,” said Elder Gerard.
Director of the Utah Patients Coalition DJ Schanz, a Mormon, told the Los Angeles Times that the most recent “onslaught by the LDS Church to undermine our efforts to give patients relief is nothing new.”
“We are actually relieved that they are finally doing it in the open rather than behind the scenes,” he said. “We have great hope that the voters in Utah will side with patients and in favor of compassion and see through the smoke and mirrors surely to follow.”