Even as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fights against the ballot proposition to legalize medical cannabis in Utah, the church also supports and recognizes a need to regulate medical cannabis in the state.
Church officials recently expressed their limited support, reports The Deseret News. “We’d like to see it done this year, in a special session this year,” said Marty Stephens, the church’s director of community and governmental relations. “We’d like to see these people that have needs—truly medical needs—we’d like to see them be able to get access to these medications in an appropriate, safe manner.”
“It’s really remarkable the Lord’s chosen prophet at this time has great empathy and understanding,” said Elder Jack N. Gerard, executive director of the church’s public affairs department. The church’s current president and prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, is a former heart surgeon. His leadership and medical knowledge may be opening Mormon minds toward support of medical cannabis in the state.
“That’s why I think it really is quite significant that we’ve come out to support a broader coalition to work for appropriate, medicinal marijuana use with appropriate safeguards,” he said
“Proposition 2 is not the right answer,” said Gerard. “We’re hopeful that as people better understand what is in Proposition 2, that they will join with us to find an appropriate answer in a timely way.”
Some legislators have admitted they feel the proposition is flawed but plan to work on reforms after the regulation is passed, feeling that medical cannabis will not go forward if this does not pass the vote.
“Proposition 2 is flawed, in some ways very flawed,” said House Minority Leader Brian King, “but I’m voting for it because if we vote it down, I think the likelihood that the state Legislature will come back and put in place meaningful medical marijuana is slim and none.”
Gov. Gary Herbert’s spokesperson said that it is too early to consider a special session happening regarding the proposition. Herbert does not oppose medical cannabis, but said in March he welcomed alternatives to Prop. 2. “So if it doesn’t pass, we’ll start new. We’ll create in this upcoming legislative session a bill that everybody can support,” he said last month. “If it does pass, we’re going to bring the legislature together and work with the stakeholders who’ve already acknowledged this bill is not perfect.”