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Meridian Magazine joins the Church and other community leaders and experts in encouraging the public to study carefully and vote no on Prop 2. 

A coalition made up of medical experts, clergy, law enforcement, educators and business leaders gathered on Utah’s Capitol Hill Thursday to speak in opposition to the state’s medical marijuana initiative that will appear on the ballot this fall.

Coalition members say initiatives to legalize marijuana in other states have led to increased drug use among youth, higher risk of impaired driving and an increase in hospital emergency department visits, among other significant public health and safety concerns.

“The marijuana initiative appearing as Proposition 2 on the ballot this November does not strike the appropriate balance in ensuring safe and reasonable access for patients while also protecting youth and preventing other societal harms,” said Michelle McOmber of Drug Safe Utah and CEO of the Utah Medical Association.

Read the full coalition statement

“We do not object to marijuana derivatives being used in medicinal form — so long as appropriate controls and safeguards are in place to ensure vulnerable populations are protected and access is limited to truly medicinal purposes,” said McOmber on behalf of the coalition.

“The Church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form, through a licensed pharmacy,” said Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a member of the coalition. “We are deeply concerned by the history of other states that have allowed for medical or recreational use of this drug without the proper controls and have experienced serious consequences to the health and safety of their citizens.”

“Our hope and expectation is to bring the broader community together, including all those who have a lot of experience and understanding in what we can do as followers of Jesus Christ to relieve human pain and suffering and to help those afflicted,” said Elder Gerard.

Bishop Scott Hayaski of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah said, “There are significant enough concerns for me to oppose Proposition 2 as it stands, but I will pledge that in going forward I will work for the passage of something that will allow for medical cannabis to be available for those who will benefit from it.”

“Proposition 2 is not about medicine,” said Dr. Adam Taintor of the Utah Medical Association. “It is a poorly disguised initiative to allow recreational use into the state. … Qualifying illnesses under Proposition 2 for the marijuana card opens the doors for almost anyone to easily qualify for the card.”

“My biggest qualm with Proposition 2 is that I feel that the patient’s interest is not at the heart of the matter,” said Enedina Stanger, who spoke at the media event. Stanger moved to Colorado from Utah to have access to medical cannabis to treat her symptoms associated with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic disease that affects the connective tissues in her body. “We are excited for the possibilities,” she added. “Let’s just do it the right way.”

“[The proposition] does not provide the protections for children and youth and families,” said Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency of the Church. “We’re very concerned and very empathetic actually to parents who actually are suffering right along with their children, who worry day and night and hour by hour and are looking for a hopeful solution.”

“We also urge lawmakers, patients and community stakeholders to work together to find a solution that works for all Utahns,” said McOmber. “The hallmarks of Utah’s unique policy accomplishments in the past have been civility, compassion and a spirit of compromise, and we are confident an approach guided by these principles will yield similarly effective policies.”

Members of the coalition who spoke at the media event include Dr. Adam Taintor, Utah Medical Association; Enedina Stanger, patient representative; Aaron Kennard, Utah Sheriffs Association; DeAnn Kettenring, Utah PTA ; Bishop Scott Hayashi, Episcopal Diocese of Utah; Elder Jack Gerard, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Nathan Frodsham, patient representative; Todd Moon, patient representative; and Steve Starks, Salt Lake Chamber president-elect.

Elder Craig C. Christensen, president of the Utah Area of the Church, is sending an email to members in Utah, urging them to vote against the proposition.

“The Church joins a coalition of medical experts, public officials, and community stakeholders in calling for a safe and compassionate approach to providing medical marijuana to those in need,” said Elder Christensen. “Join us in a call to state elected officials to promptly work with medical experts, patients, and community leaders to find a solution that will work for all Utahns, without the harmful effects that will come to pass if Proposition 2 becomes law.”

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