Utah cannabis advocates drop part of lawsuit against religious group


Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Utah medical cannabis advocates have dropped part of a lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that claimed the church pressured lawmaker’s to change the state’s medical cannabis initiative.

Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) and the Epilepsy Association of Utah are no longer claiming the church was involved in their lawsuit over the medical cannabis initiative, but they are going forward to question why the state’s legislature amended Proposition 2, which is the proposition that legalized medical cannabis in the state, and if it should be allowed.

“There is a tension here between First Amendment rights and the state constitutional provision prohibiting domination and interference between a religious organization and the state,” said Rocky Anderson, the attorney for TRUCE and EAU. “Of course, we have to recognize this unique provision came about because of the theocracy in our state.”

Anderson also claimed that “it’s indisputable that state policy and state laws are dictated by the LDS Church,” according to Fox 13.

“The Utah Patients Coalition, Libertas, and the Marijuana Policy Project reached a compromise with opponents and lawmakers prior to the November 2020 election,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Cannabis News Box. “This compromise agreement, while imperfect, ensured that Utah patients would gain access to medical marijuana through a safe, legal, and regulated system.”

Utah Attorney General’s Office previously asked a judge for the lawsuit to be dropped, saying that the LDS church does not dictate what the state’s legislature does. The state’s legislature is trying to replace the proposition that was approved by voters with their own version, and the lawsuit claims that they are trying to “override” the will of the voters.

“Lots of denominations have lobbyists walking around Capitol Hill. I’m not opposed to that at all. It’s when they’re given unfettered access to those backrooms,” Doug Rice, president of the Epilepsy Association of Utah, told FOX 13. “They’re able to have their members who are sitting on the state legislature act in accordance with the desires of the LDS Church and that’s what really bothers me.”

It’s unclear if the legislature will actually change the initiative to their own version, but the lawsuit is going forward for now, and there will likely be quite a heated debate before this issue is settled. Cannabis advocates say they simply want to honor the desires of Utah’s voting populace and make sure medical cannabis patients can get the medicine they need.