How the Mormon church unlocked medical pot for deep red states

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“They did everything that they could to fight this until the people had spoken,” a former state lawmaker said of the church.

SALT LAKE CITY — On a Thursday in October 2018, a handful of Utah’s top lawmakers, representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and medical marijuana advocates filed into the Gold Room, an ornate space in the state Capitol.

They were joined by the Utah Medical Association and law enforcement groups to announce a deal to legalize medical marijuana across the state.

Everyone was there in large part because the church had decided they would be.

“You could just almost hear the teeth grinding of the law enforcement — and some of the other people that were sitting there — having to play nice and say ‘Oh yeah … this is all kumbaya.’ Because, it wasn’t,” said former Republican Utah state Sen. Mark Madsen, who worked to pass medical marijuana legislation. “The church made that happen.”

Despite the national popularity of legalizing marijuana, 14 states — mostly in the Deep South and the Great Plains — have not embraced it for medical use. Triangulating around growing support and nudged along by the personal touch of its members, the Mormon church helped greenlight a medical marijuana program industry advocates may use to succeed in deeply conservatives places like Idaho or Kansas. [Read More @ Politico]