Utahns will have the chance to vote on medical marijuana this November. In the months leading up to the vote, the battle is heating up. In particular, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Mormon church, has become the biggest opponent of Proposition 2.
This week, an anonymous, pro-medical marijuana billboard showed up. In voicing support for Prop 2, the ad appears to target the Mormon church specifically.
Utah’s Proposition 2
In November, Utah residents will vote on Proposition 2. If it passes, the initiative would make medical marijuana legal in the state.
Despite relatively high popular support—a July survey found 66 percent of Utah voters support Prop 2—the Salt Lake City-based Mormon church has spoken out against the initiative.
But now, it looks like somebody is pushing back against the church, which holds significant political sway in the state. Earlier this week, a billboard showed up along Interstate 15 encouraging support for Prop 2.
But the ad took a very specific approach. It quoted Mormon scripture as the basis for supporting Prop 2.
The billboard quoted from a book called the Doctrine and Covenants. In particular, it drew from a section of the book known as “The Word of Wisdom,” which Mormons believe to be a divinely-appointed health code.
The ad reads: “All Wholesome Herbs God Hath Ordained for the . . . use of Man.” Then, in all caps, it says: “VOTE YES ON PROP 2.”
Interestingly, the purchaser of the billboard is anonymous. And so far, nobody’s taken credit for it.
Local news sources said the ad was taken down on Thursday while the billboard company reviewed it to be sure it could remain anonymous. After determining that everything was legal, the company put the billboard back up today.
There are reportedly other similar signs in the works. It’s unclear when they’ll go up or what exactly they will say. But sources said that similar ads had been purchased and are scheduled to go up in the near future.
Mormon Church vs. Medical Marijuana
It’s not surprising that a debate about medical marijuana in Utah has come to center on the Mormon church. In fact, this has become the standard trajectory of marijuana-related bills in the state.
For example, the church became vocal in its opposition to a similar bill in 2016. That year, the church helped derail a bill to legalize medical marijuana. But it did say it supported a different bill that would allow patients to use certain cannabis extracts, but that would continue to outlaw smokable cannabis bud.
This year, the church has been arguably more outspoken in its opposition to Prop 2. Last month, church officials held a press conference to announce its opposition.
That same day, the church sent an email to members encouraging them to vote against Prop 2. In the letter, church officials claimed that the initiative would “[create] a serious threat to health and public safety, especially for our youth and young adults, by making marijuana generally available with few controls.”
More recently, the church invited a number of popular bloggers to discuss its opposition to the proposition.