Micah Sheldon

Mormon Senator Pushes Medical Cannabis Bill Despite Opposition from LDS Church

A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Utah proposed by Senator Mark Madsen — who is also a proud Mormon — now faces new opposition from the LDS Church.

In a state where 288 people died from opioid overdoses in 2014, Madsen has fought to change the perception of cannabis among his colleagues as a safe alternative to potentially dangerous pain medications. He himself suffered an accidental overdose in 2007, when a fentanyl patch burst and Madsen had to be revived by 911.

When Madsen was approached with the issue of legalizing marijuana oil to ease the suffering of children with severe epilepsy, he became a proponent of medical cannabis. But the Church’s public announcement Monday that it would oppose any attempt to legalize marijuana has already set some Utah lawmakers against the bill.

The LDS Church holds a lot of sway over the political tide in Utah, so Madsen has attempted to meet with church leaders to discuss their specific objections. But the Church will only cite “unintended consequences” as their reason for opposing legalization.

But Madsen thinks Utah is owed more. “The people that are affected by it, I think, might be entitled to some kind of explanation,” he said. 

Despite the church’s opposition, Sen. Madsen says he will continue to push legalization because most Utah voters support it. “It would be immoral to back down,” he said.

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