Leaders from various faiths advocate for medical marijuana in Utah

Posted at 10:03 PM, Mar 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-06 00:03:16-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Leaders from various faiths gathered at the Utah State Capitol this week, where they called on members of the legislature to pass a law allowing patients to use medical marijuana.

Anna Zumwalt, a Soto-Zen Buddhist Priest from Salt Lake City, was among those who attended.

“We hope that the legislature will act with compassion, and not put government between the sacrosanct doctor-patient relationship,” Zumwalt said.

Rev. Patty C. Willis of the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society was also present.

“As faith leaders, we must be the voices of those who are quietly suffering,” Willis said.

The state senate passed two medical marijuana bills, but one in particular, SB 73, faces an uphill battle in the House. The bill is the more expansive of the two bills, and some lawmakers have said the LDS Church’s position on SB 73 makes it difficult to get it passed in Utah.

Willis said they want patients and doctors to be the ones making these kinds of decisions.

“We do not want the people in our congregations to have to worry about DCFS taking their children, or being arrested, or going to jail because they, along with their physician, believe that cannabis is the best or the only treatment option for them,” Willis said.

Rev. Monica Hall of Trinity Presbyterian Church said they were moved by the suffering of people who are unable to seek treatments using cannabis.

“They're coming with burdens of physical pain and illness along with tears of passion,” she said. “And they are pleading over and over and over again, ‘Please make this possibility real to have legalized medical cannabis.’”

Faith leaders who attended the event say if the voices of the suffering are not heard and dealt with on the hill, it will become very personal for voters in a ballot initiative.

“It’s personal when two women cannot be seen as viable parents for an adoption, and it's personal when your body cannot find relief from pain because of misinformation regarding cannabis,” Hall said, apparently alluding to the LDS Church’s positions on medical cannabis and same-sex marriage. “It's deeply personal.”

A House committee will hear both medical marijuana bills next week.