The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which wields political power like the Catholic Church used, may be bracing for a lawsuit. You see, it seems they were somehow able to sway the Legislature in Utah to replace the recently voted on, Proposition 2, with a more church palatable version (referred to as the “Compromise Bill”).

“Although Utah voters this month approved the medical cannabis initiative by about 52 percent-48 percent, lawmakers are expected to meet in a December special session to overwrite the measure with a marijuana proposal acceptable to Prop 2 opponents, including the church. In a Thursday letter, an attorney representing a faction of the medical cannabis community argued that the church’s fingerprints are all over the push.

‘Although initiative statutes may be amended or repealed by the Legislature, the almost immediate extreme undermining of numerous provisions of Proposition 2 at the behest of The Church of Jesus Christ is anti-democratic and contemptuous of the … recognition in the Utah Constitution that the people are to have the power to enact legislative changes,’ attorney Rocky Anderson, former Salt Lake City mayor, wrote.

According to the letter, Anderson’s clients could seek legal redress by contesting the proposed special session, collusion between the church and officials over changes to Prop 2 and larger patterns of church dominance in Utah government.”1

(Anderson is representing TRUCE and the Epilepsy Association of Utah.)

TRUCE president, Christine Stenquist, who is herself a medical-cannabis patient, left the church months ago because she anticipated the clash over legalizing the miracle plant she depends on. She said, “There are people in this state whose voices are constantly squashed because of the dominance of this faith, and it’s time for someone to stand up and say something.”2

And we applaud her for standing up.

However, Gov. Gary Herbert effectually just dismissed people’s concerns by stating that most of the people who live in Utah are members of the church. However, while that might be technically true (60 percent of residents are members of the church) nearly 90 percent of Legislators are members of the faith (more than the people they represent) and they should not be feeling free to “override the will of voters as expressed through a ballot initiative”3 according to Anderson, “This time, they’ve gone way too far in orchestrating the radical undermining of an initiative the majority of voters supported.” 4

As it stands, the legislation that lawmakers are expected to consider in a special session would set up a completely different method of medical-cannabis distribution than Prop 2; the initiative would allow for about 40 private dispensaries5 but the drafted bill calls for five privately licensed “cannabis pharmacies” and a state-run central fill pharmacy and if the state is involved in dispensing the federally illegal substance it might attract unwanted attention and trouble from the U.S. government.

Anderson’s letter warns recipients not to destroy ANY records that might be relevant in any legal action and advises the governor, the leaders of the Utah Senate and House and several current and former state senators and representatives, as well as the church’s chief lobbyist and a church spokesman that they “expect to obtain from you a number of documents and things, including letters, memoranda, files stored on your computers, and your telephones, including any voice messages, emails, or text messages or other data storage, including records of deletions of data or destruction of documents.”6

(The letter was sent to outgoing House Speaker Greg Hughes; incoming Senate President Stuart Adams; incoming House Speaker Brad Wilson, Sen. Jerry Stevenson; outgoing Rep. LaVar Christensen; former Sen. Michael Waddoups; Utah Tax Commission Chairman John Valentine; Boyack of the Libertas Institute; D.J. Schanz with the Utah Patients Coalition; Utah Medical Association CEO Michelle McComber; Director of the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel John Cannon — and the LDS Church’s chief lobbyist, Stephens, and church spokesman Michael Purdy.7)


  1. The Salt Lake Tribune
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