For tortured souls who spend time opining, or commenting, on the state of politics in America there are few things any more that are surprising or encouraging. However, there is a recent news item that is both surprising and encouraging; although it garnered a religious reaction that was typical and disgusting.
Despite a serious rash of reports from around the world about the incredible, and scientifically-proven, benefits of cannabis to human beings’ health, there is still severe resistance from law enforcement, the pharmaceutical industry, and religious fundamentalists to legalizing the common weed for medicinal use.
Even though the United States government has finally admitted what medical and biological researchers have known for at least a couple of decades, that cannabis is a highly-effective remedy for a world of diseases, ailments, and injuries, there is still opposition to making cannabis legally available to suffering Americans.
The surprise news is that about a week or so ago a Utah State Senator and devout Mormon, Mark B. Madsen, proposed a “Medical Cannabis Act.” If passed and signed into law, the bill will “allow the use of medical marijuana for patients suffering from ALS, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, chronic pain and a world of ailments and injuries.”
By now, some Americans are aware there are myriad stories of Americans whose quality of life has improved dramatically because they used marijuana that eased their pain, prevented muscle spasms, stopped nausea, killed cancer, shrunk tumors and relieved combat veterans’ PTSD; among many other infirmities. But despite scientific research and long-term medical studies from around the world and at home, there is still opposition to using the natural substance for religious reasons; reasons that did not stop Mark Madsen.
The only problem with Senator Madsen’s bill is that the most powerful entity in Utah, the mighty Mormon Church, is vehemently in opposition to it regardless it is legislation founded on compassion for human beings. The official Church position as expressed by LDS spokesman Eric Hawkins is, “Concern about the unintended consequences that may accompany the legalization of medical marijuana is why we are opposed to Senator Madsen’s bill.”
Now, the LDS church did not enumerate any of the “unintended consequences” of medical marijuana use because they are a religion and does not need to explain its position because god. Even if a religion hates the idea of legal recreational weed use, legalizing marijuana for medicinal use to relieve suffering should be a non-issue; particularly for any religion claiming to have an ounce of compassion for the suffering of others.
The reason why Mr. Madsen broke with Church rules to try medicinal marijuana, in Colorado where it is legal, is reported here in his own words. It is a short read and a story often heard from one-time opponents of medicinal cannabis. The gist of Madsen’s experience is that he nearly died of an accidental opioid overdose prescribed for a severe back injury, and after trying marijuana for relief, he immediately pushed for its legalization in Utah “because it works!”
Mr. Madsen could have saved himself a near-fatal opioid overdose if he had spent even a few minutes on the U.S Government NIH website, but he did not; although his Mormon wife Erin did.
According to Mrs. Madsen, she had a bounty of misgivings about medicinal marijuana’s effectiveness for anything and said “it was a huge leap” to support her husband’s decision to use cannabis as medicine. But then she did something highly unusual for a conservative or a religious devotee; she actually “read the studies and learned how it could relieve her husband’s suffering without potentially killing him” like the dangerous opioid drugs he needed just to function.
Mrs. Madsen said,
“I think as we look at this issue we need to realize that cannabis has been sold to us as something it is not. One thing I realized when I started looking at this was so much that I knew was not true.”
That is likely due to only listening to her church, the pharmaceutical industry, and the highly-profitable criminal justice system. There are a world of things the “powers that be” feed Americans that are not true and interestingly her husband came to precisely the same conclusion as his wife. Senator Madsen said,
“I realized it was misguided government policy that was keeping relief from these innocent patients and I started to take a different perspective. It wasn’t just about me and my back pain. There are other people suffering, and suffering worse than I, who could benefit from this. When it became an issue that was not just about me I realized I had to do something.”
Now, it is irrelevant that Madsen is a Republican or a devout Mormon; the man has compassion that is refreshing coming from a religious conservative. Although one vehemently detests his staunch libertarianism and repulsed by his religion, Mr. Madsen deserves praise for personally seeking out the truth about cannabis and actually doing something his church is dead set against; attempting to help other suffering human beings get relief without dangerous and addictive narcotics or pie-in-the-sky magic.
This opposition to relieve suffering is typical of more than just the Mormon church and more than just about medicinal marijuana use. It is religious dogma getting in the way of common sense that adversely affects women’s healthcare, education, and equal rights that end up costing the nation dearly. In this particular case, it is the Mormon Church’s willingness to see sick and injured people suffer needlessly instead of adjusting its own rules as an expression of its “alleged” devotion to Jesus Christ’s commandment to show compassion; at least for suffering Mormons. And that brings up another religious abomination.
Mr. Madsen said he asked to discuss the reasons for his church’s stance and ardent rejection of “Christian compassion,” but he was rebuffed. If he fails to toe the LDS line and embrace religion-informed cruelty, he may be more than ‘rebuffed’ and find himself “removed” from the church. As one writer noted, there is some irony in a religion founded on “made-up stories” that wants to punish suffering patients, mostly Mormon patients, on the basis of “made-up consequences.”
It is one thing for the Church’s “saints” to “Tell members not to use medical marijuana,” but is revealing that like their evangelical brethren, they insist on the right to tell every Utah citizen “not to use medical marijuana” whether they are members of the LDS faith or not. That is the overriding and glaring feature of most American Christian fundamentalists; “It’s not enough that they devise bad ideas that harm their devotees, they demand that those bad ideas be applied to everyone by force of the government;” it is what conservatives hypocritically claim is government overreach.
For some Americans it is difficult to comprehend how any Christian-affiliated church can support an idea that perpetuates suffering as a form of godly devotion, or to launch a crusade to punish people who openly reject their brand of theology. It is not that there are not mountains of empirical data proving that cannabis is a genuinely effective medicine, it even has its own section on the official U.S. government website; with links to studies proving its efficacy.
It is just too bad the Mormon Church cannot follow the steps two of its adherents took and “look at this issue to realize that cannabis has been sold to us as something it is not, and that so much is not true.” The religion’s devotees should realize the same is true about the mythos that has been sold to them over the years; but that is a step too far to hope for.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.