Mormons and Pot | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Mormons and Pot 

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Despite Mormonism's claims that its prophets talk with God, its recent history portrays a rather bleak record for getting on the right side of political issues.

It makes one wonder where former President Gordon B. Hinckley was when he made an official declaration in the early days of the Iraq War. He described it as a "just war." Unfortunately, he never seemed to comprehend the facts. The 9/11 attack did not originate in Iraq; there were no "weapons of mass destruction;" advisors had told President George W. Bush, essentially, "Don't go into Iraq. It will destabilize the entire region, and there is no way, particularly in light of the tribal nature of Iraq's many populations, to ever win."

As we have come to understand, the predicted consequences held true. The war was anything but "just," and it did, in fact, destabilize the region, kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people and waste hundreds-of-billions in military expenditures.

There are only two possible explanations for Hinckley's remarkable gaffe: Either he didn't hear God correctly or God was simply wrong. Sadly, his statement created a mindset among Mormons, who assumed that they needed to support the war and refrain from speaking out against it. That's the consequence of poorly-informed religious leaders crossing over into politics and passing-off personal opinions as God's word.

So, here we are in 2018, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is at it again, taking an official stand on the medical marijuana issue. "Lawmakers across the country have wrestled with whether to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes," LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins stated last summer. "This discussion raises legitimate questions regarding the benefits and risks of legalizing a drug that has not gone through the well-established and rigorous process to prove its effectiveness and safety." (Now, keep in mind, that no public statements are made without the approval of church leadership, so this probably came from the "top.") Why does the Mormon church issue such statements? Because it's a method of control. Sadly, with its membership of 16 million, Mormonism has a real impact on regional policy and politics, and it imposes its ideas on those who don't share the faith.

In fact, there is a wealth of credible scientific study on medical marijuana; it has proven to be the lowest risk drug in controlling chronic pain, seizures and other symptoms in a variety of diseases. The 29 states that have approved medical marijuana have done so with the understanding that the drug's use is effective, non-habit-forming and safe. Unlike opioids—which are the only other choice—patients who need its efficacy in pain and inflammatory processes aren't going to end up addicted. Furthermore, medical marijuana is incapable of killing, even in high doses. There is no LD-50—the lethal dose standard of the pharmaceutical industry—but, since He created it, God must know all that, so why didn't he tell his prophet?

The large pharmaceutical companies don't want easily available medical marijuana. That is no surprise and it's easy to see their motivation. If approved through the "appropriate channels" and legalized as a prescription drug, it would probably be the most profitable drug ever to hit the market. What costs around $150 per ounce in those states where it's legal, the pharmaceutical behemoths would likely turn into a $10,000 per month prescription for those who desperately need it. Unfortunately, those pharmaceutical companies are some of the biggest contributors to campaign funding, so it's easy to see why most lawmakers have a mantra similar to that of the Mormon church. It also suggests another possible motive for the church's opposition to the upcoming ballot initiative. Let's just consider, that among the Mormon church's stock investments are very large holdings of pharmaceutical stocks.

So, if our governor and legislators have been put into office with pharmaceutical dollars, is it any surprise that they don't want Utahns to have the majority vote on medical marijuana? Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah's legislative pack appreciate the dollars that got them elected, and they seem determined to oppose the principle that the people's voices will be heard. Moreover, these people repeatedly lie to the population, claiming that legalization will lead to recreational use—something for which there is no credible evidence.

Roughly 75 percent of all Utahns, including those of diverse religious denominations, support the use of medical marijuana, according to a poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. One of the most ridiculous concepts is to allow the drug only to those in their last six months of life. Unfortunately, there are many chronic maladies that cause victims years of endless suffering, and, while the dying need our compassion, the chronically ill need it even more. There are thousands of Utahns for which medical marijuana is the difference between years of endless suffering or functional, happy lives.

As a former surgeon, current church prophet Russell M. Nelson should remember his Hippocratic Oath. Consigning the chronically ill to interminable pain is not in keeping with that Oath. It's time for Nelson to work toward the greater good rather than getting stuck in the politics. Frankly, there is nothing good, compassionate, or Christian in the church's position.

Regardless of the Mormon church's statements, Utahns need to stand up for what is good and what is right. Let's make sure that the medical marijuana initiative is not blocked by those who would take away our right to the principal of majority rule. We care about those who endure chronic suffering, so let's do all we can for them.

It's time for Utahns to engage their God-given ability to think, venture out of the sheep pen and question why the chronically ill should be required to suffer horribly when there really is "salvation" just beyond the vote. The church's stance is unconscionable. If I've raised the hackles of Mormons, I'll put this in their language: What would Jesus do? Kindness and love dictate the answer.

Retired business owner Michael S. Robinson Sr. lives in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and one mongrel dog. Send feedback to

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