Tribune Editorial: The people of Utah know that medical marijuana should be available to alleviate pain and suffering

(Rick Bowmer | AP Photo) Doug Rice, right, and his daughter Ashley, left, look on with other patients, caregivers and supporters during the Utah Patients Coalition news conference at the Utah State Capitol Monday, June 26, 2017, in Salt Lake City. A group of activists and Utah residents with chronic conditions has launched a ballot initiative to ask voters next year to pass a broad medical marijuana law.

Despite a robust 76 percent public support for the Utah medical marijuana initiative, the governor, a state medical association and even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have recently come out, or hinted, against it.

Utah isn’t the hive of compassion and innovation those leaders like to claim it is.

Last month Gov. Gary Herbert came out against the initiative citing his main objection that medical marijuana would “open the door to recreational use.” Except it won’t. The governor has no data or study to explain this oft-repeated falsehood.

Instead, the governor praised the laws the Legislature passed earlier this year that legalized medical marijuana for terminally-ill patients within six months of dying. So the hopeless can get relief, but those in constant pain are out of luck.

The ballot initiative, if passed, would legalize medical marijuana for the terminally ill and those who suffer from chronic pain due to certain serious diagnoses. Most believe that medical marijuana would cause much less loss and devastation than opioids, which have become a deadly plague of addiction.

The Utah Medical Association also issued a statement opposing the initiative. Of course, the UMA doesn’t speak for all physicians in the state; it’s a reflection of the UMA board, not the membership itself. But most people don’t know that.

One of those unrepresented doctors, Andrew Talbott, said, “The track record of the safety and efficacy of this medicine speaks for itself, though there are hundreds of existing studies that prove this.”

In its statement, the UMA said medical marijuana “would compromise the health and safety of Utah communities.”

The health and safety!! Compromised! Those terribly sick people will visit a highly regulated dispensary to show their identification cards and purchase a medicine, that can’t be smoked, but will certainly help them actually function with the debilitating illness they suffer through every day.

Imagine those people bringing their medicine back to our neighborhoods! Where our schools are! Pretty soon the respectables will move out and dark corners will be crowded with overturned trash cans, homemade fires and deadbeat addicts on the prowl.

Or not.

The LDS Church issued a statement commending the UMA’s statement in opposition. So, the church didn’t come out and oppose the initiative itself, it just praised the UMA for doing so.

Not quite the bastion of courage and righteousness we hope our religious leaders to be.

The church’s statement explained, “We respect the wise counsel of the medical doctors.”

If the UMA’s statement wasn’t so misleading, even downright false in some respects, as the Standard-Examiner of Ogden succinctly laid out in a fact-check earlier this week, that might be commendable.

But the UMA was misleading, and the church’s statement is not commendable.

The people of Utah, though, will continue to lead out on this important issue.

Apparently, alone.