With more states legalizing medical and recreational marijuana and others easing their strict prohibition laws, some churches have followed suit. The Latter-Day Saints are changing their regulations and releasing statements to let the public and followers know that alternative medicines like marijuana are no longer prohibited.
One church that has updated its rules is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The policies regarding what the church deems moral issues such as fertility treatments, sterilization, birth control, sex education, surrogacy, unwed parenting, and, most of all, medical marijuana.
The Latter-Day Saints officially banned cannabis in 1915. The “Word of Wisdom” is the central cannon for social and religious guidance for members of the church. And it has historically outlawed any stimulants and recreational drugs like alcohol and cannabis. The new laws are reflected in the updated version of the church’s General Handbook. It eases restrictions on medical cannabis as a health treatment option.
Updating the Handbook for Contemporary Life for Latter-Day Saints Members
The handbook got overhauled back in February 2020, and edited down to a single volume. It was then posted online for everyone to read. There were various adaptations in March. The church reviewed 15 more chapters, which featured significant changes to five sections.
According to a news release, “To date, 16 of the book’s 38 chapters have been completely reworked, and minor changes made to several other chapters as part of an ongoing revision under the direction of the [governing] First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.”
Interestingly in the history of Latter-Day Saints in Utah, many leaders of the church moved to Mexico, and some moved back. Utah began decriminalization efforts for cannabis back in 1971 due to the prolific use of marijuana. It is assumed that both dried cannabis and seeds were transported from Mexico to the state of Utah. However, church members had to use it discreetly.
Religion and Marijuana: Separating Cannabis as a Valuable Therapeutic Medicine
As part of the update, a new section about medical marijuana got added. It indicates that the drug is allowed for members when prescribed by a licensed physician, and dosage instructions should be followed. The use of marijuana in smoking and vaping forms is still outlawed in the church. However, administering drops or tinctures for sublingual uptake (for medicinal purposes) would not be banned by The Latter-Day Saints.
This is quite convenient for members of the church who suffer from conditions that can get treated by medical marijuana. They can now obtain MMJ cards and visit medical cannabis dispensaries without feeling like they are going against their faith.
Followers of The Latter-Day Saints can be excommunicated for violating church laws. And members who may benefit from medical marijuana use for health conditions feared reprisal from the church.
A statement was added to the start of the portion on “moral issues,” which reads: “A few policies in this section are about matters that the church ‘discourages.’ Church members usually do not experience membership restrictions because they decide these matters. But, all people are ultimately accountable to God for their decisions.”