LDS Church pushes for medical marijuana compromise instead of Prop 2 ahead of election

SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held an informal panel Friday, discussing what impacts Proposition 2,  the medical marijuana ballot initiative, could have on Utah's youth.

In a small conference room in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, three women sat concerned.

“We want medicinal cannabis available to those that need it,” said Deann Kettenring the Health Commissioner for the Utah Parent Teacher Association. “But we also want to make sure our parents, our children and our community knows that there are some harmful effects to this as well."

“Proposition 2, as it’s written, does not provide those safeguards and it does not provide all of the other, what do you want to call them, baseline protections for children, youth and families,” said Lisa Harkness, First counselor, Primary General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Now, these women say they’re concerned that if Prop 2 passes, it will bring kids easy access to marijuana.

“Studies have shown that when you have more availability of a drug when perceived risk is lowered, it absolutely increases youth use rates,” Kettenring said.

The Utah Patient’s Coalition (Prop 2’s main proponents) disagree, in a statement, hey said, “Voting for prop 2 holds all parties accountable to ensure safe access for patients."

“A vote against Prop 2 is a vote against the use of medicinal cannabis, that’s not true,” Harkness said. “A vote against Prop 2 is actually a vote against the protected deficiencies in the proposition.”

In a statement to Fox 13 the Patient’s Coalition said:

"There are thousands of studies and millions of patients that disagree with the dubious claims made during this 'press conference.’ While we look forward to future studies that will shed light on additional uses, we should not discount the many sick and dying patients currently criminalized for using cannabis for a list of ailments."

According to Harkness and Kettenring, they aren't opposed to medical marijuana, but they aren't in favor of Proposition 2.

“The compromise is not Proposition 2,” said Harkness, pushing for support for the compromise, a bill the state legislature has put on the table to help implement medical marijuana whether or not Prop 2 passes; a process that could be lengthy. “It’s unique, it will actually be able to help provide some science behind the medicinal use of cannabis, that will not happen overnight but it will take place over time."

“We need to do it in a safe and effective way and we need to make sure we protect our kids,” Kettenring said.

Voters will decide the fate of Prop 2 on Election Day next Tuesday.

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