Utah Medical Marijuana Bill Opposed By Mormon Church, Leaders Fear 'Unintended Consequences'

A Utah medical marijuana bill that authorizes the use of edible pot products is being opposed by the Mormon Church. The measure is one of two medical cannabis proposals going before state lawmakers.

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fear the "unintended consequences" of a proposed medical marijuana initiative up for debate by the Utah legislature. As reported by the Washington Post, the church's position on the issue can strongly influence many lawmakers who are also devoted followers of the faith.

Medical marijuana bill might not pass in Utah.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is against a Utah medical marijuana bill. [Photo by George Frey/Getty Images]Mormon Church representatives have voiced their opposition to the legislation, but House Speaker Greg Hughes said they refused to explain their thinking.
"We'll meet on a regular basis and they'll explain different bills that they're watching, and it's no different for them than others who would participate in the process. But they had indicated to me — their government-relations people — that was a bill that they were first concerned about and ultimately looking to oppose."
The measure, first introduced by Senator Mark Madsen of Eagle Mountain, will allow residents suffering from chronic or debilitating conditions to obtain edible cannabis products. Under the proposal, smoking marijuana will remain illegal.

According to Madsen, the LDS Church refuses to discuss objections to the bill and spoke openly about his frustrations with the faith's influence working under a veil of secrecy.

"Maybe they don't want to be known as the special interest who put their thumb on the scale and decided this for everyone in the state. If they're going to put their thumb on the scale politically and force everyone to a standard, then I think they owe something of an explanation to the people."
Should the bill be approved, Utah will be the 24th state to have legal medical marijuana on the books. However, the bill will have to make it past the many Utah politicians who argue that Madsen's plan is too expansive.

In a previous Inquisitr report, a Senate committee first began considering the Utah medical cannabis legislation in March of last year.

Another more restrictive medical marijuana bill allowing patients diagnosed with cancer, HIV, and other conditions access to cannabis-infused oil is also up for debate. While low in the hallucinogenic chemical THC, the cannabidiol oil is high in CBD, a substance shown in some studies to reduce seizures.

This proposal, sponsored by Senator Evan Vickers of Cedar City and Representative Brad Daw of Orem, requires stringent controls on licensing and tracking of marijuana oil dispensaries. Doctors authorized to prescribe the treatment would have to register and submit to training, while patients would need a cannabis card to buy the oil.

A similar law, passed two years ago, allowed people with severe epilepsy to use the marijuana oil as long as they bought it in another state like Colorado.

The Mormon Church has no objections to this proposal and the Utah Medical Association completely supports it. However, many people who suffer from certain conditions criticize the bill for not going far enough. They contend their medical conditions don't qualify under the bill's current verbiage and will not be able to get the treatment they need.

According to a poll conducted in January by The Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, 61 percent of Utah residents want marijuana legalized in some form. Additionally, 48 percent of Mormons also agreed with medicinal marijuana, while 44 percent were in opposition.

In states where medical marijuana is legal, the church typically does not oppose its use by members. Mormons who use medical cannabis in states like Oregon, Washington, and Colorado generally remain in good standing with the faith.

After four hours of testimony, both Utah marijuana legalization bills received committee approval on Thursday and will be debated before the full Utah Senate sometime this week.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]