Utahns are split over whether an LDS Church legal analysis criticizing the medical marijuana initiative leads them more to support the initiative, or turns them away from it, a new UtahPolicy.com poll shows. 

It is not often that leaders of the Mormon Church take a stand on a political issue.

But church leaders have made several statements questioning and opposing the medical marijuana initiative, which Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s office certified to the November ballot this week.

Well, it is headed to November's ballot unless a state judge rules against it – as opponents to the initiative have filed suit.

In any case, the survey for UtahPolicy.com by Dan Jones & Associates shows that LDS Church support or opposition to a public issue is a two-edged sword: It leads faithful Mormons toward their church’s position but drives away non-Mormons from that position.

The church released a legal analysis by the private law firm Kirton McConkie, which the church uses for its legal work.

The new survey by Jones asked Utahns whether the church’s legal analysis (which raises 31 questions why the initiative is a bad idea) makes them more or less likely to support the initiative:

  • 40 percent said the church’s analysis makes them “much more” or “somewhat more” likely to support the initiative. (In other words, does just the opposite of what church leaders want.)

  • While 41 percent said the church’s analysis makes them LESS likely to support the initiative. (Which is what church leaders desired by releasing the legal analysis.)

  • And 20 percent said they don’t know if the analysis changes their minds. It’s likely many in this group had never heard of the church’s legal analysis before Jones asked them the question.

 

Jones found in a previous question about whether the interviewee supported or opposed the medical marijuana initiative itself, that a huge 72 percent of Utahns support the initiative.

And in that same question, 59 percent of “very active” Mormons support the initiative. Or, in other words, are going against their church leadership on this issue.

However, as one might expect, Jones finds that “very active” Mormons are more open to their leader’s legal analysis – and thus changing their minds on the initiative – than are other religious groups.

For example:

  • 56 percent of “very active” Mormons said the church’s legal analysis – which concludes there are numerous problems with the initiative – make it more likely they will NOT support the initiative.

  • But a fourth (24 percent) of “very active” Mormons said the church’s analysis actually made them MORE likely to support the initiative.

One may guess why that is so, but it’s likely these good Mormons don’t like their church leaders getting involved in this political question – may actually resent the church’s anti-medical marijuana stand.

That certainly appears to be the case with other religious groups – who told Jones the church’s legal analysis actually makes them more likely to support the initiative, rather than oppose it.

So for these folks, the LDS Church’s opposition to the initiative makes them MORE likely to support it.

Jones found:

  • Those who said they are “somewhat” active in the LDS Church – 32 percent said they are actually more likely to support the initiative because of the church’s negative analysis; 37 percent they are less likely to support it; while a large 31 percent said the church’s analysis makes no difference to them.

  • Those who used to be members of the LDS Church, but no longer belong to the faith, are skeptical – 57 percent said the church’s stand makes them more likely to support the initiative, 35 percent said they are less likely to support it, while 8 percent said they don’t know.

  • 60 percent of Catholics said the church’s analysis makes them more likely to support the initiative – rejecting what LDS Church leaders wish.

  • 25 percent said the LDS Church’s opposition analysis makes them less likely to support the initiative, while 15 percent don’t know.

  • Protestants, by a 60-25 percent response, said the LDS Church’s analysis makes them more likely to support the initiative.

  • Those who belong to some other religion don’t like the LDS Church’s analysis; 66-22 percent saying the church’s actions make them more likely to support medical marijuana in Utah.

Finally, those who said they have no religion don’t appreciate the LDS Church’s legal analysis – 68 percent saying it makes them more likely to support the initiative, while 14 percent said the analysis makes them less likely to support medical marijuana.

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