The Deseret News is reporting that leaders for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraging the Utah State Legislature to legalize medical marijuana by the end of the year.
“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 to the Deseret News. “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.”
The Church did release a statement back on August 23rd stating their opposition to “Prop 2” here in Utah. Church leaders joined a coalition made up of medical experts, clergy, law enforcement, educators and business leaders gathered on Utah’s Capitol Hill to speak in opposition to the state’s medical marijuana initiative that will appear on the ballot this fall.
Coalition members say initiatives to legalize marijuana in other states have led to increased drug use among youth, higher risk of impaired driving and an increase in hospital emergency department visits, among other significant public health and safety concerns. Garden Heights Recovery, a leader in the treatment of substance abuse disorders via outpatient therapy affirmed that the number of patients it has seen in the fiscal year has risen.
“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,” said Michelle McOmber of Drug Safe Utah and CEO of the Utah Medical Association.
Elder Jack N. Gerard, executive director of the church’s public affairs department, did add that there was urgency for patients who could find relief that medical marijuana could provide.
“There is urgency,” said Elder Gerard, “This isn’t ‘let’s wait till next year to have a conversation.’ It needs to be dealt with soon. There’s an urgency to accomplish this. … With this coalition, we’re calling on public officials to act and act promptly.”