Despite LDS Church opposition, nearly 3/4ths of Utahns support ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana

Even though the Utah Medical Association and leaders of the LDS Church oppose the medical marijuana citizen initiative petition, three-fourths of Utahns support the measure, a new poll finds. 

The medical marijuana ballot initiative was officially certified for the November ballot on Tuesday afternoon as Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox announced organizers met the signature gathering requirements.

A group opposed to the petition has filed suit against it in state court – and it may well be up to judges to decide if it goes on November’s ballot.

But a super-majority of Utahns have made up their minds.

UtahPolicy pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds:

  • 72 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” support the medical marijuana initiative.
  • 25 percent (or one-fourth) oppose it.
  • And only 2 percent are undecided.

That is a small “don’t know” number, clearly indicating that the Utah populace has made up its collective mind.


The LDS Church has issued several statements on the petition in recent weeks – mainly backing the opposition formed by the Utah Medical Association’s board of directors.

The church is now led by President Russell M. Nelson, a former heart surgeon.

But Jones finds that so far “very active” Utah Mormons are not following their church leadership on this issue:

59 percent of those who self-identified to Jones that they are “very active” in the LDS faith support the initiative.

In general, “very active” Mormons would be those adults who pay tithing and have a temple recommend, allowing them to attend sacred temple rites.

38 percent of “very active” Mormons oppose the initiative, while only 3 percent don’t know.

Among those who said they are “somewhat” active in their LDS faith, 85 percent support the initiative, 8 percent oppose it, and 7 percent don’t know.

Those who told Jones they once were active Mormons, but no longer follow the faith, 90 percent support the legalization of medical marijuana, 10 percent oppose, and 0 percent don’t know.

Catholics support the petition, 84-13 percent.

Protestants support it, 89-11 percent.

Those who said they belong to some other religion support it, 83-14 percent.

And those who told Jones they have no religion support it, 96-4 percent.

While a group including the medical association actively tried to get petition signees to take their names off of the petition (a way to keep it off of the ballot), the LDS Church’s internal structure of lay leadership apparently did not attempt to do so – allowing the leaders’ public comments to suffice.

The church is also not part of the anti-medical marijuana lawsuit, although its private attorneys did release an analysis listing 31 reasons why the petition is bad public policy.

However, the new poll shows that so far, faithful Latter-day Saints are not heeding their leaders’ advice to oppose legalizing medical marijuana in Utah.

Now that the petition has made the ballot, it remains to be seen how the church’s continued opposition may play out over the next five months..

As with some of the other citizen initiative petitions this year, proponents of medical marijuana got tired of waiting for the GOP-controlled Utah Legislature to act, and so took matters into their own hands and ran a petition.

Backers of the medical marijuana initiative say it can go into law without tweaks if voters approve it in November.

However, even if it does so, lawmakers could change the new law when they come into session in January.

Support for the medical marijuana initiative runs across partisan and political lines, found Jones:

  • Republicans support it, 60-37 percent.
  • Democrats support it, 95-4 percent.
  • Political independents support it, 77-20 percent.
  • Those who are “very conservative” politically support it, 58-41 percent.
  • Those who are “somewhat conservative” support it, 64-35 percent.
  • “Moderates” support it, 73-23 percent.
  • The “somewhat liberals” like it, 96-4 percent.
  • And the “very liberals” support it, 97-1 percent.

Jones polled 615 adults from May 15-25. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.