If you have been keeping up with the rest of the media over the past couple of months, then you are fully aware that the situation in the State of Utah is far from smooth-sailing. Since state lawmakers introduced the prospect of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, they have received a mixture of support and backlash from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church) regarding the ethics surrounding the drug. Even more bizarrely, despite the fact that Utah voters approved the medical cannabis program (called Proposition 2) on Election Day, the government has continued to change this new law over and over again, all to appease the Mormon Church. However, some marijuana advocates in the Beehive State are far from pleased. In fact, on Thursday, December 6, 2018, two groups sued the state over the matter. Let’s take a closer look and find out more.
Overall, this recent activity is not surprising for us to hear. After all, Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) and the Epilepsy Association of Utah had already threatened to take drastic action if additional changes were put into law. One of the biggest factors behind this decision is the simple fact that an organization that backed the plaintiffs had made a pre-election compromise with state lawmakers.
However, the Utah Patients Coalition, the group that backed this measure, stated that they accepted the compromise to ensure that no repercussions harmed the system any further. Likewise, they explained that the Mormon Church has a strong influence in the political bodies of Utah.
A Matter of Church and State
Research indicates that two-thirds of people living in Utah belong to the Mormon Church, while an estimated 9 members of the government are Mormon. In fact, State Governor Gary Herbert is also a practitioner of the faith.
Interestingly, though, the lawsuit revealed that Church advocate and lobbyist Marty Stephens gathered a group of Mormons together to ban marijuana by voting alternatively on the ballot. Why is this such a major issue? According to the Utah Constitution, no church can interfere or dominate state functions.
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