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Kirby: Going to pot with the Mormon Word of Wisdom
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A religious debate emerging just now is whether Mormons should be allowed to smoke weed in church.

If not in sacrament meeting per se, then perhaps it should be permitted in any of our lesser obligatory meetings, such as Sunday school, tithing settlement, enrichment meeting or high-school seminary.

OK, the debate over Mormons and weed hasn't gotten to that point yet, but it will. If you don't think so, please refer to our long-standing and irrational blather over caffeine.

The weed issue began when Pleasant Grove mother (and active Mormon) Jennifer May went on record in this paper calling for the Legislature to legalize medical marijuana so her son, who suffers from severe seizures, can be treated.

May says all conventional medicines have failed and people suffering from her son's life-threatening condition have responded favorably to medically prescribed marijuana.

Eighteen states currently permit medicinal use of marijuana. As you may already have guessed, Utah is not one of them. I'm thinking May's story stood out because a go-to-church Mormon wants marijuana legalized.

I'd be OK with legalizing it but for the effect it would have on my church. Do we really need another substance to agonize over?

In the interest of full disclosure, I once smoked lots of nonmedicinal weed. It was my favorite subject in high school and a major hobby in the military. I gave it up 40 years ago to serve an LDS Church mission.

Interestingly, it was on my mission that I came to fully understand a much-overlooked element of the drug problem — namely, that the wrong people used them.

Whereas I shouldn't have been smoking all those years, I had several ultra-serious companions who would have benefited greatly from some medicinal mellow. The same is almost certainly true of some state legislators.

Unfortunately for May's son, the legislative position on medicinal weed legalization is based on the same principle that drives many of their other decisions: "Thus sayeth the Lord … " — except Heavenly Father doesn't say anything about ganja.

Marijuana is not mentioned in the LDS health mandate, also known as the Word of Wisdom, which forbids the use of tobacco, alcohol, coffee, R-rated movies, etc.

The WoW doesn't specifically prohibit ingesting cyanide or carpet tacks, either. Abstaining from marijuana is therefore also a common-sense conclusion, they'll say.

Regrettably, common sense in matters of religious doctrine is far too often collective sense gone idiotically awry. Case in point, the amount of hyperventilating we already do over another potentially soul-robbing substance: Diet Coke.

If medicinal weed is legalized, we'll see the same thing. At some future General Conference, a church leader may counsel members to partake sparingly of cannabis.

And then off we'll go.

How much THC in a joint is allowable before it's a sin? Should we be toking up only on de-cannabinoided weed? Will there be a weed Postum? How much should we plant in our gardens? Could I bring a hemp casserole to the ward "pot" luck party?

Ironically, medicinal marijuana is illegal in Utah, but chemotherapy — technically a poison — is not. I saw what that did to my wife 10 years ago. It was ugly and terrible, but we still did it.

Maybe it's because, like May, we were asking ourselves the most important question: How could it possibly make things worse?

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.

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