SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed Friday night that it has "expressed opposition" to a state legislative bill that would legalize access to the entirety of the marijuana plant for those suffering from a limited number of medical conditions.
Church officials are worried about the "unintended consequences" of Senate Bill 73, a measure proposed by Republican state Sen. Mark Madsen, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said.
"As we have said during previous legislative sessions, there are a number of potential impacts that must be considered in any discussion about the legalization of medical marijuana, including balancing medical need with the necessity of responsible controls," he said in a statement. "Along with others, we have expressed concern about the unintended consequences that may accompany the legalization of medical marijuana. We have expressed opposition to Senator Madsen's bill because of that concern."
Madsen's bill, if passed, would allow use of the whole marijuana plant for any Utahn suffering from specified medical conditions. He did not answer multiple calls seeking comment Friday night.
Hawkins said the LDS Church hasn't raised any objections to Republican state Senator Evan Vickers' Senate Bill 89, which would legalize manufactured cannabidiol products for a select number of patients.
On Thursday, doctors, patients and caregivers testified before the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee about the merits of both bills. The committee approved the bills for debate on the Senate floor.
Gov. Gary Herbert has said he hasn't adopted a position on either of the measures.
"My belief is the timing is good. We ought to have the discussion on medical marijuana," Herbert said Thursday, adding that he is interested in hearing more than anecdotal evidence about marijuana's medical evidence. "It would be nice if we could find the science to back it up. I think there needs to be some research done."
The governor said state officials should be "cautious and methodical" if steps are taken to legalize medical marijuana.