What are they smoking?
There are a lot of social issues I get behind. Some I’d even be a martyr for. But medical (or even recreational) marijuana has never really been a cross I’ve been willing to die on. Mostly because it just doesn’t matter that much to me.
I’ve tried pot once in my life, in college. The only thing it did for me was give me an intense craving for guacamole Doritos. I ate the entire bag and later decided I could probably find another bad habit that wasn’t quite as fattening. On top of that, I’ve always had a job where I’ve been drug tested. So, frankly, pot has never been worth the risk for me. Or the calories.
I started paying a little more attention to the arguments for medical marijuana when my sister was diagnosed with brain cancer nearly eight years ago. I came across a number of studies proving pot was not only an effective way to control pain, but also could help control the seizures she was having as a result of her chemotherapy and radiation. But my sister has so far been able to control these side effects with traditional medication and hasn’t wanted to pursue medical marijuana. So my interest in the topic was short lived. I just have so many things I fight for I really didn’t feel the need to take on another cause.
But then the LDS church had to go and make a statement about its stance on the use of medical marijuana, and suddenly, I felt the need to be outraged. Not necessarily over the use of marijuana, but rather that a tax-exempt religious entity would release a statement and try to lobby lawmakers. Yes, I realize it’s Utah. This sort of thing is not unusual. But shouldn’t the LDS church at least try to hide their blatant disregard for the whole separation of church and state thing?
I’m not even talking about the U.S. Constitution. I’m taking about the Utah Constitution that elected officials are sworn to uphold. It states: "There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions."
Given this, why on Earth is the dominant church in the state interfering with legislative functions? Having an opinion is one thing. Trying to force policy is quite another.
In its statement against the bill seeking to legalize the use of medical marijuana, the church said they worry about the unintended consequences that could come with use of the drug.
The church noted it believes there is a lack of research on the benefits and potential harms of medical marijuana, including the possibility of abuse.
How exactly do you "abuse" a non-addictive plant? By not watering it?
Also, did anyone get the memo that over 400 Utahns die each year from opioid overdoses? Utah is fourth in the nation for these types of deaths. And, there’s growing research to prove medical marijuana is an effective painkiller, so it could potentially substitute for some opioid painkillers (which can be highly addictive). On top of this, marijuana doesn’t cause deadly overdoses. So it stands to reason that replacing some opioids with pot could potentially prevent some overdose deaths, too.
The church added to its statement that it was not in a position to evaluate specific medical claims.
That makes sense. It’s a church, not a group of doctors. But then why does it feel it is in a position to lobby the legislature and weigh in on legal topics? After all, it’s a church, not a group of lawyers.
While I object to any tax-exempt religious organization weighing in on secular matters of the state, I do have to say, I think the church is on the wrong side of the argument. Think of the killing they’d make selling Cheetos and Snickers at the door to the ward. I bet they could even get Willy Nelson to join the Tabernacle Choir.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis.
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