The influence of the church has considerably waned in the state.
Utah career politicians were joined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when they backed an October 4 deal which would legalize the use of medical marijuana in the conservative state. The governor is also a party in this turbulent debate. The deal bypassed a potentially embarrassing political collision as internal polls conducted by both sides revealed that Utah residents prefer the legalization of medical marijuana. Not even the fierce opposition from the LDS church could stop this development.
The President of Libertas Institute, Connor Boyack, put it succinctly when he said the passage of Proposition 2 does not mean the end of the process. Medical marijuana opponents, which include the LDS church, have made it amply clear that they will not hesitate to use their influence in Legislature to smash the initiative. They want to delete all provisions unacceptable to them. If voters, in their turn, approve the use of medical marijuana, then fights would break out in the Capitol. The courts would be caught up in the maelstrom and all implementation would be delayed. The people who will suffer the most are the ones who need marijuana the most, the patients themselves. Boyack said they prefer to win the war and are ready to lose the November battle.
For Utah, the unfolding events are more than contesting over marijuana legalization. For the first time in the history of the state, the Mormon church could find itself on the losing side of a political battle. The church will lose as a large proportion of Latter-day Saints will vote for Proposition 2, even as the LDS leadership expressly forbids them from doing so. If this happens, the Legislature will then be forced to dismantle the newly minted medical marijuana law, a veritable horror-show for the church.
A compromise was the only way out and it is more than a probability in the present political climate. People are now getting ready to vote in November on the seemingly uncontrollable marijuana issue. Governor Gary Herbert has announced his intention to ask lawmakers to participate in a special session post the midterm election. He wants to pass this compromise into law independent of how this initiative turns out. In case it gets passed, the document will be revised as per the deal terms. In case it fails, a new law would be considered by the Legislature as per the new framework.