God created it perfectly; it works exceedingly well. Numerous studies by some of America's best researchers say it is both safe and effective and it can end the suffering of thousands of otherwise opiate-dependent Utahns who cannot find non-addictive relief any other way.
And yet, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues its official, open opposition to Proposition 2, the initiative that would legalize medical cannabis. Thirty-one other states have made the compassionate choice to end the suffering of their citizens, and while nine of those have chosen to allow recreational use of the plant, that is not the issue at hand.
During the past month, the church—through its permanently retained legal counsel—has entered into yet another round of the fray, swinging with gloves off for all it's worth. With a stridently vocal anti-Prop 2 campaign aimed at muting the voices and consciences of a largely committed voting majority, it apparently seeks to short circuit the will of the people through mischaracterizations, lies and half-truths, leaving thousands in agony.
My best guess is that even the most devout voters will ignore the church's rants, choosing mute opposition instead of a visible and vocal revolt. Good people will make the right decision—giving reverence to the overwhelming scientific evidence and voting for legalization as the only moral choice.
It's sad that the church has, in effect, created an irresolvable dissonance within the body of its members—one that forces Utah's Mormon majority to make a choice contrary to the wishes of Mormon leadership. Probably the harbinger of things to come, the church is making a bold attempt to sanctify political and practical choices of its members. Along with this measure of unhealthy control, it's helping to ensure that its younger, more progressive members will find growing disagreement with church leadership and policies.
Citing a trumped-up list of legal and health consequences, the church has ignored the most essential of Christian precepts and it has failed to weigh the most important objective of legalization: An ounce of empathy would be appropriate here; this is merely the choice of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Now, I realize that legalization would be a problem for the church. Here are a few of my educated suspicions: 1. The church's beneficial but well-hidden interest in Intermountain Healthcare and SelectHealth would be impacted by tens of millions of dollars if patients with inflammatory/neuropathic diseases, epilepsy, Parkinson's, etc. were allowed to handle their symptoms with home-grown remedies. 2. As one of the nation's largest stock market investors, the church would lose the opportunity to invest in marijuana-based pharma. (The church's stock portfolio of approximately $32 billion, according to information published by MormonLeaks, is loaded with profitable pharmaceuticals.) So the church's opposition to legalization might have nothing to do with dangers—unless you think that missing out on profit can be considered a risk to an organization that is supposed to be about humanity and love.
Although only my theory, the LDS church's push to have the drug dispensed by pharmacies, put into accurate individual doses and put through the lengthy process of getting it FDA approved is a strictly selfish agenda. Personally, I think that if God had wanted it that way, He would have done the growing, labeling and dispensing Himself, instead of just making the plant available as one of His finest natural creations.
But there might be another reason for the church's opposition to medical cannabis: Mormonism, like most religions, preaches that pain and suffering are God's way of assisting people in expanding their understanding, empathy and personal growth. So, friends, those of you out there who are enduring excruciating, chronic intractable pain, please believe Mormon leaders: Forget about your addictive opiates and go without! It'll make you better people in the end.
Actual statistics—not Mormonism's fake news—show that states legalizing medical cannabis have experienced a marked drop in opioid use and deaths attributed to overdose.
Frankly, the Mormon church's position is unconscionable and needs to be rethought. No Utahn should have to make a choice between compassionate Christian behavior and the ramblings of a bunch of impotent old codgers who are stuck in the dark ages and unable to see God's will.
I say it's time to do "pot for a prophet"—pun intended. And I'll just bet that, if President Russell M. Nelson took medical cannabis for his old-age pains, it would facilitate the flow of new revelations and break the silence of the long-muted voice of God.
Michael S. Robinson Sr. is a former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He lives with his wife, Carol, and one mongrel dog. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org