Analysis: Poll numbers show LDS voters are sold on the alternative medical marijuana bill passed by Utah Lawmakers last year

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Among Utah’s various religious groups, only “very active” members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the state Legislature’s medical marijuana law is better than Prop. 2, the drug’s legalization for various medical problems approved by most Utah voters last November.

Those are the results of a new poll by Dan Jones & Associates for

DJA finds:

  • 58 percent of “very active” church members believe the Legislature’s compromise medical marijuana law is better than Prop. 2.
  • No other religious groups have a majority in favor of the Legislature’s actions, while several faiths members are split over the two proposals, and others, by majorities, oppose what the Legislature did.

As you may recall, leaders of the LDS Church came out against Prop. 2 last summer – first in a rather milquetoast endorsement of the Utah Medical Association’s opposition to Prop. 2, later with more intense opposition.

The church’s actions quickly split the Utah electorate, with non-Mormons criticizing the church’s actions and solidifying support among them for Prop. 2.

Meanwhile, as the summer passed, polling showed that their leaders’ Prop. 2 opposition was affecting faithful Mormons, who were starting to turn against the ballot proposition.

Before the Nov. 6 election, former House Speaker Greg Hughes got representatives of both Prop. 2 and opponents – including a church lobbyist – together and hashed out a compromise.

While Prop. 2 passed, 52.75 percent to 47.25 percent, as promised, GOP Gov. Gary Herbert called lawmakers into a special session in early December, and the compromise was overwhelmingly passed into law – usurping Prop. 2.

Now the new survey shows that overall Utahns are split on what the Legislature did – 39 percent believe the legislative compromise is better than Prop. 2, 34 percent say it is worse, 15 percent say it makes no difference what lawmakers did, while 11 percent don’t know.

However, the poll shows that active Mormons really like the compromise – which was supported by their religious leaders.

But active Mormons are the only religious group that does, by majority, approve of the compromise, and the dumping of Prop. 2.

The numbers:

58 percent of “very active” members of the LDS faith say the compromise is better than Prop, only 13 percent of active Mormons say Prop. 2 was better, 17 percent said there’s no difference between the two, and 12 percent didn’t know.

Among those who say they are “somewhat active” in the LDS faith, 34 percent like the church-backed compromise passed by lawmakers, but 38 percent oppose it, 17 percent said it makes no difference, and 11 percent didn’t know.

Among those who have left the LDS faith, but once were members, 54 percent oppose the Legislature’s compromise and support Prop. 2 today, 21 percent side with the legislative compromise, 9 percent said it makes no difference, and 17 percent don’t know.

Catholics are split, 38 percent don’t like what the Legislature did, 31 percent do, 16 percent said it made no difference, and 15 percent don’t know.

Protestants are really against the legislative compromise, 67-13 percent, while 12 percent said it made no difference and 8 percent didn’t know.

Those who said they belong to some other religion are against the new compromise law, 56-16 percent, with 22 percent saying it made no difference and 6 percent don’t know.

Little doubt among those who told DJA they have no religion at all – 75 percent said the legislative compromise on medical marijuana is worse than Prop. 2, only 4 percent like what lawmakers did, while 10 percent said it makes no difference and 12 percent don’t know.

More than 80 percent of Utah’s 102 part-time lawmakers are members of the LDS Church – which includes both Republicans and Democrats.

And as support for Prop. 2 by faithful Mormons started to drop (it was still a majority), Hughes said he feared that Prop. 2 would divide families, congregations, and neighborhoods. So he sought a compromise both sides could support.

The new survey shows that a month after lawmakers passed Hughes’ compromise, there is still a religious and political split in Utah when it comes to Prop. 2 and medical marijuana.

DJA polled 882 voters from Jan. 3-15. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.