Mormon Church Faces Potential Lawsuit Over Medical Marijuana Opposition

Mormon Church Faces Potential Lawsuit Over Medical Marijuana Opposition

One week after Utah voters approved a medical marijuana ballot initiative, a lawyer representing patients and advocates has formally notified the Mormon church to preserve records ahead of a potential lawsuit concerning its alleged attempts to undermine the measure.

It’s no secret that the church opposed the medical cannabis initiative, which ultimately passed by roughly 52-46 percent, with some ballots still left to be counted. Though the organization said it supports medical cannabis reform, it vehemently resisted Proposition 2 and implored church members to vote against it.

Advocates and opponents reached a tentative compromise last month ahead of Election Day to have the Utah state legislature pass legislation during a special session ensuring access to medical marijuana. But not all legalization proponents felt encouraged by the deal, and the new legal notice to the church signals continued battles over exactly how the state’s patients will access legal cannabis.

Several Utah lawmakers, the Utah Patients Coalition and the Utah Medical Association were also named in the notice and asked to maintain records.

The church has “a long history of dominating and interfering with the government of the State of Utah, often dictating to state and municipal legislators what legislative measures or policies they are to support or oppose,” attorney Rocky Anderson, a former mayor of Salt Lake City, wrote in the notice, which was shared with Marijuana Moment.

“That dominance and interference is prohibited by the Utah Constitution.”

Whether or not there will be a lawsuit remains unclear, as Anderson wrote that it was up to the claimants who reached out to him to determine if that was the best course of action. Advocacy groups TRUCE and the Epilepsy Association of Utah, along with several patients, are listed as claimants in the document.

Brian Stoll, a reform advocate who has served as a spokesperson for TRUCE and is also a member of the church, told Marijuana Moment that he does expect a lawsuit to go forward.

“Speaking as myself, not TRUCE, I do believe that they have every intention of going forward with the lawsuit if only to get lawmakers under oath discussing the domination of the political process in Utah of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on record,” he said. “There have been many stories over the years about their undue influence, including some accounts published by lawmakers detailing how intimately involved they are in legislation regarding certain topics.”

“As you know, I’m an active member of The Church, and that will remain true. However, after having worked with the Utah legislature for the better part of three years where I saw this happen, and seeing all their work to thwart Prop 2 including having the ability to call a special session, I feel that it’s unethical and not right for them to have such an influence.”

If there is a lawsuit, the church is being implored to preserve a wide range of records, both physical and electronic. Anderson alleges that the church forced the special session “to radically undermine and alter the new law,” which he claims amounts to a constitutional violation.

“Vastly altering the law mandated by the people is contrary not only to the popular will, but contrary to the intention expressed in the Utah Constitution that the people can, through an initiative, directly exercise their constitutionally guaranteed legislative power,” he wrote.

In a statement provided to Marijuana Moment, a spokesperson for the Mormon church said “we have worked, from the outset, with medical professionals, law enforcement, educators and many other groups and prominent community leaders to seek the best for the people of Utah, to provide relief from human pain and suffering, especially where children are concerned.”

“Broad community engagement was the reason a workable, beneficial and safer medical cannabis program was put together at the direction of state leadership. We stand behind and look forward to the safe, responsible and  compassionate solution that will be considered by the state legislature,” the spokesperson said.

Read the full notice below.

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https://massroots.wpengine.com/news/utah-voters-approve-medical-marijuana-legalization-ahead-compromise-deal/

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Mormon Church Faces Potential Lawsuit Over Medical Marijuana Opposition

Utah Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization Ahead Of Compromise Deal

Utah Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization Ahead Of Compromise Deal

Utah voters approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana on Tuesday.

With 74 percent of precincts reporting, the initiative, Proposition 2, is up 53-47 percent, and NBC News and other outlets have projected it passed.

“The passage of Proposition 2 illustrates just how broad support has grown for medical marijuana in the U.S.,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement to Marijuana Moment. “Even in socially conservative states like Utah, most voters recognize marijuana has significant medical value, and they believe it should be available to patients who could benefit from it.”

But because the main campaign behind the measure reached a deal on compromise legislation with opposing groups last month, legal medical cannabis was in effect an inevitability in the state. Under the agreement, state lawmakers will soon convene a special session to enact a law allowing patients to access medical cannabis.

Here’s what Proposition 2 would have accomplished, as written.

Under the measure, individuals with certain qualifying medical conditions such as cancer, epilepsy or post-traumatic stress disorder can obtain a recommendation for cannabis from a physician. There’s a separate process, which requires approval from a five-member board of physicians, that patients can go through to get a recommendation if their condition isn’t listed.

Patients won’t be allowed to smoke cannabis. They can purchase up to two ounces of unprocessed marijuana or a marijuana product containing no more than 10 grams of THC or CBD during a 14-day period.

There is a provision that allows medical cannabis cardholders to grow up to six plants for personal use if they live more than 100 miles from a dispensary—but that doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2021.

Patients won’t be subject to state or local marijuana taxes under the law. Rather, the program will be funded through licensing and registration fees imposed on cannabis businesses.

The main campaign backing the measure was the Utah Patients Coalition, which received support from advocacy groups including the Marijuana Policy Project and TRUCE Utah.

Drug Safe Utah, an anti-legalization group that counted the Utah Medical Association, the Mormon Church and others as coalition members, was the main opposition committee. It was accused of spreading misinformation about the measure.

Following the compromise deal, however, fundraising on both sides slowed or ceased—with the exception of Drug Safe Utah, which reported significant contributions in the last half of October.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the latest election results information.

Follow Marijuana Moment’s election live blog for the latest updates on cannabis ballot measures and congressional races here

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Utah Voters Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization Ahead Of Compromise Deal

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