Church leaders speak out against Utah's medical marijuana initiative on radio broadcast

On Sept. 12, General Authorities and a general auxiliary leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were invited to weigh in on KUER’s RadioWest about why the Church has joined a coalition opposing Utah’s medical marijuana ballot initiative.

Participating in the segment were Elder Craig C. Christensen, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Utah Area; Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency; and Elder Jack N. Gerard, a General Authority Seventy.

The three said the Church is not against the regulated use of medicinal marijuana, adding that Drug Safe Utah — the coalition of medical professionals, law enforcement officials and religious, political and community leaders — is concerned about the recreational use of the drug without proper controls.

In August, members of the Church in Utah received an email from Elder Christensen concerning the initiative.

“We’re not medical doctors, so we look to the experts to help guide the conversation,” said Elder Gerard on RadioWest. “But we believe the appropriate role of the Church is to help facilitate the conversation. So, rather than set out our positions on one end or the other of the continuum, we’d invite the community to come together.”

During the interview, the leaders reiterated that they’re empathetic for individuals who are currently struggling with debilitating pain.

“What might not be understood is we’re out ministering to those folks all the time,” Elder Christensen said. “Or in other words, those are the people we’re out with, and we understand [they're] ... suffering.”

Additionally, Sister Harkness clarified that the coalition’s stance against the current initiative doesn’t mean they aren’t actively looking for solutions regarding the issue.

“There is perhaps some feeling that by our opposition to Proposition 2 that we want to maybe kick that football down the field and deal with it later. That’s not at all true,” she said.

“We’re actually very empathetic to the urgent need that parents and caregivers and patients are experiencing. We understand that need, and thus we’ve joined with this very diverse coalition and are urging our community elected officials at the state level and community level get together, work together, and we can find a solution that’s better for Utah.”

For more information on the coalition and the Church's position, go to

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