OPINION – I get it, Utah, you hate California.
You hate California so much that you will do everything within your power to ensure that the customs, lifestyle and influences of the Golden State do not contaminate the purity of your beloved Beehive State.
Never mind that there are many former Californians who cashed out when the housing market was booming and plunked down their money on new homes in Southern Utah.
Never mind that there are large pockets of ultra-conservatives in California, particularly the southern part of the state where the locals equate liberalism to a felony or, at the very least, an intellectual malfunction.
None of that matters if even a hint of California influence wafts over the border, which is, perhaps, why a group opposed to a measure that would allow compassionate use of cannabis in Utah is going to such fallacious lengths to try to quash the initiative, including a newly filed lawsuit asking for an emergency injunction to block the measure from the ballot.
The claims are stunningly and purposely inaccurate, as the Libertas Institute noted in a point-by-point rebuttal to the lawsuit. The filing was based on a legal analysis bought and paid for by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and prepared by the law firm of Kirton McConkie. The firm represents the church and has such a close relationship that it occupies offices across the street from the church’s Administration Building. It is safe to say the firm is a surrogate for the church in this matter.
The papers were filed in behalf of the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Utah, which has also been known as Drug Safe Utah. The group is comprised of the Utah Medical Association, Utah Eagle Forum, Sutherland Institute, Utah Prevention Coalition Association, various behavioral health groups, Utah Narcotics Officers Association, Utah Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement groups and “concerned citizens.” Although not acknowledged publicly, the LDS church falls into the latter of those groups.
The church has come out swinging just about as hard on this issue as it did on LGBTQ rights and gay marriage.
The impact of the church on its LGBTQ community has been devastating. It has historically employed cruel and unforgiving tactics, ranging from shunning and total rejection to forcing what is known as conversion therapy upon LGBTQ members, including the belief that you could “pray away the gay.”
Perhaps church officials will institute a “pray away the MMJ” program to make this whole medicinal cannabis thing disappear. It won’t happen because the reality is more people would be comfortable with legalized medicinal cannabis than legalized gay marriage.
Look, I have no problem with whichever faith you embrace, just do so in your house of worship and not on my doorstep or in a city, county, state or federal government office.
The church has neither scientific nor practical experience with cannabis, yet it insists on inflicting its demands on our elected officials and the public at large.
The comforting news is that at some time – sooner than later – this will all go away because voters will side with science about the palliative properties of cannabis as both a medicinal and recreational alternative that better serves the public than alcohol, tobacco or any other illicit substance.
It will no longer be a matter of a church dangling salvation as the influencing factor because voters seem poised to sweep the measure into law by a landslide. According to recent polls, 77 percent of Utahns support the measure, meaning it should easily pass here in November.
As far as cannabis legalization is concerned, the Utah measure is Pot Light.
You won’t be allowed to cultivate your own cannabis and you won’t be allowed to smoke it.
There is, apparently, concern about the number of Utahns that may qualify for a medical cannabis prescription.
I will take what the church and Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Utah, Drug Safe Utah or whatever the puppets at Kirton McConkie say seriously when they express equal concern about the number of Utahns who already qualify for an opioid prescription or a Xanax, Valium or Ativan prescription.
I will believe the Utah Medical Association, Utah Eagle Forum, Sutherland Institute, Utah Prevention Coalition Association, various behavioral health groups, Utah Narcotics Officers Association, Utah Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement groups and “concerned citizens” have our best interests at heart when they speak for themselves and do not parrot the official remarks attributed to church authorities.
I will get off the backs of our legislators when they reflect the will of the people instead of bowing to a theocracy.
And, I will give some genuine cred to the church, the Legislature and voters when they realize that, well, not everything coming from California is bad.
I have had my problems with the state over the years.
There was the little matter of Gov. Ronald Reagan.
There was a matter of the riots – from the Watts riots to the so-called Rodney King Riots.
There’s this plastic façade with little substance, depth or intellect that infects so many and has earned Los Angeles, rightfully so, in some respects, the pseudonym of La-La Land.
Then, there are all those nasty earthquakes.
But, there’s the California economy – fifth-largest in the world that just last month added 39,300 new jobs with a record-low unemployment of 4.2 percent.
There’s the weather, of course, and scenic beauty that compares with anywhere, including Utah. Don’t believe me? Go explore the Eastern Sierras. Pines are every bit as beautiful as red rock.
And, even though California Democrats outnumber Republicans 44 percent to 29 percent, the state is not the poster child for liberalism some would lead you to believe. Just ask Diane Feinstein or Nancy Pelosi, who are not necessarily shoo-ins any longer.
But, California does have a progressive trajectory among its Democrats and Republicans that intersected in 1996 when it voted to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes and, again, last year, legalizing it for recreational use.
And, guess what?
The world didn’t end.
Utah will be just fine, thank you, with legalized medicinal cannabis no matter what the hysterical theocracy says.
And, we can all thank California for leading the way.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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