Allegedly, it is religious and financial sentiments in Utah that are keeping cannabis illegal.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – JANUARY 16: President Russell M. Nelson (C), 1st Counselor Dallin H. Oaks (L), and 2nd Counselor Henry B. Eyring (R), of the First Presidency, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -Day Saints share a laugh with the press after Nelson was announced as the 17th president of the Mormon Church on January 16, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
It should come as no surprise that Mormons oppose the use of cannabis, as the faith forbids followers from any recreational drug use. Mormons are also forbidden from drinking alcohol, with some members going as far as abstaining from caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda. Due to its high Mormon population, cannabis remains illegal in Utah.
Utah has a Mormon-influenced political force. Utah was the first state in the US to make cannabis illegal back in 1915. While faith certainly plays a role in the state’s decision to keep marijuana illegal, newly leaked documents reveal that an additional factor may contribute to the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ firm stance against legalizing cannabis. The Mormon Church has a multi-billion dollar investment in pharmaceuticals.
The Church of Latter-Day Saints hasn’t disclosed its finances publically since the 1950s, and since the church doesn’t have a reputation for being candid, a group called MormonLeaks have taken it upon themselves to make the church’s operations transparent. It turns out, the church has investments in big pharma dating back to 2015. MormonLeaks reveals that the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ has billions of dollars invested in 13 LLC pharmaceutical companies.
“There are several pieces of evidence that tie these 13 LLC companies to the Church,” wrote MormonLeaks, “While none of them particularly stand out on their own, together they provide room for the reasonable conclusion that these organizations are related to the Church in some way.”
Inquiring on the matter, local news was referred to a general statement. “While the vast majority of its financial resources come from the tithes and offerings of Church members,” it said, “the Church also holds business interests that help in accomplishing its mission.”
As far as cannabis goes, this could be more correlation than causation. The Church of Latter-Day Saints have proven to be a significant obstacle to legal marijuana in Utah, but their religious objections to weed are much older than the documents provided by MormonLeaks. One of the companies in the investment portfolio is Abbott Laboratories, which founded AbbVie Inc., produces a THC drug called Marinol. Utah will be voting on medical marijuana in the Fall elections.