SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake Tribune published a memorandum by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposing a medical marijuana measure for the November ballot on Friday. The Mormon church memo addresses their concerns about the state legalizing medical marijuana.
The church first made their views on the initiative public with a press release in April supporting the Utah Medical Association for being in opposition to the medical marijuana initiative. The initiative collected the 200,000 signatures required to be put on the ballot for the November election which would let voters decide if medical marijuana will be legal.
The memo lists 31 concerns that the Mormon church has with the medical marijuana initiative. The 7-page memo released Friday was written by the Kirton McConkie law firm.
The concerns listed in the memo include "grave" concerns about allowing large numbers of people to become medical marijuana consumers as well as the number of plants the initiative would allow people to grow.
The memo lists concerns that the initiative would allow people to grow up to 6 plants for personal use, implying that 6 plants are a mass production by adding that there is nothing in the initiative that would "monitor homegrown marijuana operations."
A spokesperson for the Mormon church Karlie Guymon says that the memo encapsulates their concerns about the negative consequences medical marijuana will have on families, individuals, and society, adding that she invites everyone to read the memorandum and decide for themselves.
Other issues the church has concerns about include challenges for law enforcement, complimentary samples that marijuana dispensaries would be allowed to give medical marijuana consumers, people with previous convictions obtaining a medical marijuana card, minors possibly having access to marijuana, and the limitations on distances required on the initiative between pot shops and churches, schools, and playgrounds.
The church also has an issue with marijuana being sold in dispensaries as opposed to pharmacies, an issue that can only be addressed by the federal ban being lifted on marijuana.
The memo also cites concerns that landlords would be prohibited from refusing to rent to medical marijuana consumers, as well as the Trump Administration's actions on marijuana. The memo states that legalizing medical marijuana would put citizens of Utah at risk for federal prosecution, citing owners of firearms and immigrants as those that could be impacted.
The Mormon faith forbids its members to consume alcohol, coffee, tea, recreational drugs, or smoke, according to ABC News. At least 67 percent of the population in the state are Mormons, and 74 percent of Mormons say they are Republicans.
Utah Patients Coalition Looking Forward to Debating Fear-Based Arguments
The Utah Patients Coalition's response to the church memo simply states that the Coalition respects the opinions of those who disagree based on fear and looks forward to rebutting those arguments in the coming months. The Coalition's director, DJ Schanz, added that their medical marijuana initiative is tightly controlled and one of the country's most conservative proposals for medical marijuana.
The medical marijuana advocacy group is also planning a lawsuit against Drug Safe Utah, a group that includes the DEA and the Utah Medical Association.
The group is opposed to legalizing marijuana and is accused of several fraudulent activities, including persuading people who had signed the initiative to remove their names from the petition by masquerading as employees from the county clerk's office and providing misleading statements.
Utah Medical Association spokesman Mark Fotheringham denied the claims and reduced the lawsuit as a last-ditch effort to stop the signature removal campaign.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah-Hinckley Institute of Politics, 76 percent of Utah voters approve of legalizing medical marijuana.