In Utah, there is a ballot initiative formally known as Utah Proposition 2, Medical Marijuana Initiative, where the state is set to vote on whether to legalize medicinal cannabis on Nov. 6, 2018- but it is facing growing opposition from the Mormons.
[Editor’s note: CLN has previously discussed the two methods that cannabis can be legalized in the states- either by ballot initiative or politician-introduced legislation.]
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka the LDS Church and Mormons), the largest religious group in Utah with about 60% of the population identifying as such, are steadfastly opposed to medicinal cannabis- to the point where they’ve launched two lawsuits to have the issue taken off the ballot, meaning they want to prevent medicinal cannabis from even being voted on in the first place!
While the first lawsuit was eventually dropped, the second one is still very much alive, which claims that Proposition 2 violates Mormon’s religious freedoms.
Regardless of your religious views, the Mormons in Utah are not only being undemocratic, they are being moronic by claiming that legal medicinal cannabis would infringe upon their freedoms, all the while fighting to infringe on the rights of everyone in the state to vote on the matter.
How is that democratic at all? That’s how theocracies are run!
How does medicinal cannabis infringe on Mormon’s religious freedom anyways?
Walter J. Plumb III, the man funding the opposition, has spent more than $100,000 in his battle to block medicinal cannabis from the ballot. The main sticking point of Proposition 2 is that landlords can’t refuse to rent their properties to medicinal cannabis patients.
In an interview on Fox News, Mr. Plumb said:
“I don’t think anyone is in favor of smoking whole-plant marijuana in apartments. Who is?
I’m a Christian and I’m against this. I’m against whole-plant marijuana. I’m not against the extracts such as CBD oil that may help people.”
According to Civilized, Mormons aren’t allowed to consume psychoactive drugs or associate with those that do, and because Proposition 2 won’t allow landlords to discriminate based on medicinal cannabis use anymore, the Mormons are arguing that they will be forced to associate with cannabis users, which thereby violates their religious freedoms.
And although Utah’s populations is 60% Mormon, there’s a very good chance that medicinal cannabis will get approved, with surveys showing that 66% of Utahns support medicinal cannabis (although a few months earlier, support was as high as 76%, which shows how much influence the LDS Church holds over the state).
Mr. Plumb’s lawsuit states “In the United States of America, members of all religions, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have a constitutional right to exercise their religious beliefs. This includes the right not to consort with, be around, or do business with people engaging in activities which their religion finds repugnant.”
Supporters of Proposition 2 have hit back, as campaign director DJ Schanz told the Salt Lake Tribune:
“These groups should be ashamed of themselves for calling sick and afflicted patients morally repugnant in their latest lawsuit.”
All of this is assuming that medicinal cannabis patients and Mormon landlords can’t find a way to work together0- but why? Many apartments have strict “No Smoking” rules, but some will provide common areas for smokers outside, and while that may not be ideal for medicinal cannabis patients, especially in the colder months, at least it’s not an all-out ban on renting to cannabis patients.
On the issue of forcing Mormon landlords to rent to medicinal cannabis patients, I support religious rights and freedoms, but only up to a point- they should never be used as an excuse to discriminate against another person. In other words, your right to religious freedom should never supercede another’s right to freedom from discrimination.
Although combustion is one of the most common methods of consuming cannabis, it is also one of the most bothersome to non-users, as not everyone enjoys the smell of cannabis smoke. The great thing about cannabis is there are so many other ways to consume it, and I think that’s what Mr. Plumb was getting at when he was saying he’s opposed to “whole-plant marijuana” but not to extracts like CBD oils. But the thing with CBD oils and other isolates is that they miss out on many of the positive benefits that come with using the whole plant- the synergistic entourage effect, where the different terpenes and cannabinoids have a complementary effect.
Medicinal cannabis has Mormons split
What’s telling is that DJ Schanz, the director of the pro-Proposition 2 campaign, is a Mormon himself.
There are other Mormons like Brian Stoll who wants medicinal cannabis legalized because he doesn’t want to be dependent on the opioids he currently takes to manage his pain.
According to the LA Times, “The pills helped somewhat, but he hated the possibility of growing addicted. So at 24, Stoll bought a mini bong and some pot, and soon his life changed. The pain faded, and he could sit through church services and go on hikes. Fears of addiction no longer flooded his mind, and his mood improved.”
Unfortunately, the beliefs of his church have forced him back onto the powerful opioid Tramadol, because in order to remain in good standing at the temple, he felt forced to give up using cannabis medicinally.
Featured image courtesy of the Daily Chronic.
Civilized: Mormon Coalition Says Legalizing Medical Marijuana Violates Their Religious Freedoms.
LA Times: A battle over pot pits the Mormon Church against an unlikely group: other Mormons.
Salt Lake Tribune: Meet the man spending $100,000 to defeat Utah’s medical marijuana initiative.
Salt Lake Tribune: Support for medical marijuana remains high despite criticism from the Mormon church.
Salt Lake Tribune: Utah’s medical marijuana ballot measure would violate Mormons’ religious beliefs, opponents say in new court filing, which initiative supporters call a ‘Hail Mary’.