Lawsuit Claims Mormon Church Unconstitutionally Interfered to Weaken Utah Medical Marijuana Laws

Last month voters in Utah approved a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana, only to see the state legislature pass their own bill that removed many aspects of the initiative. And now one group is suing to prevent those changes, and blaming the Mormon Church.

Pro-medical marijuana advocates in Utah are preparing to file a lawsuit to overturn the state's recent passage of the Utah Medical Cannabis Act. The bill removed several aspects of the voter-approved ballot initiative including a reduction on distribution sites, a ban on growing marijuana at home and a "arbitrary" limit on how many patients doctors can prescribe cannabis to.

The lawsuit goes further and says the Utah Medical Cannabis Act represents a violation of the separation of church and state guaranteed in the Utah state constitution. The Mormon Church opposed the medical marijuana ballot initiative, and repeatedly advised its members to not vote in favor of it in November. They also worked with state politicians to craft the Utah Medical Cannabis Act as a way to mitigate some of the parts of the ballot initiative that they didn't like.

Proponents behind the lawsuit note that members of the Utah state legislature are disproportionately part of the Mormon Church than the general population of Utah. They therefore argue that the Mormon Church used this influence over politicians who are also their members to pass laws that directly contradict with the will of the voters.

The lawsuit also notes that the Utah state constitution “prohibits the Utah Legislature from materially undermining, by repeal or amendment, the core purposes of legislation passed through the initiative process." They claim the Utah Medical Cannabis Act violates that part of the constitution.

The lawsuit has not been formally filed, but attorneys behind the effort say they plan to do so in the near future.

(h/t Salt Lake Tribune)

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