Saturday, April 9, 2011

Is Medical Marijuana A Violation Of The Latter-Day Saints Word Of Wisdom Health Code?

Update February 22nd, 2012: I have learned that a mission president has instructed missionaries in his district NOT to baptize those who use medical marijuana; this can be considered an official Church position. Read updated post HERE.

Because the Word of Wisdom was discussed at the just-concluded 181st Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discussion has naturally spread to the LDS Bloggernacle. On Grace for Grace, the need to move beyond the "accountable" part of the Word of Wisdom and to consider other aspects, such as the use of wholesome herbs, fruits, grains, and the sparing consumption of meat for overall dietary management to combat and prevent obesity, is discussed. Even before the conference, Jeff Lindsay was also discussing this expanded application on Mormanity.

The "accountable" part of the Word of Wisdom is that part that affects temple worthiness as well as other specific forms of worthiness. The substances specifically and repeatedly identified by Church leadership as impacting temple worthiness are coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drugs. Consequently, if one refrains from using those substances, one can truthfully answer Yes when asked if he or she abides by the Word of Wisdom during a worthiness interview.

Marijuana is generally considered a recreational drug. But what about medical marijuana? Medical marijuana has become somewhat popularized as a pain management tool for those suffering from terminal or chronic diseases. Some jurisdictions have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana and prescribing authorized means of procurement. But this alone may not guarantee that one will be certified as "temple-worthy".

A casual web search did not reveal any official Church pronouncements about medical marijuana. However, The Seer Stone discussed the issue in December 2009. One commenter indicated that a published lesson plan from the Gospel Doctrine manual would tend to support the contention that medical marijuana would be no barrier to temple access, citing this passage: "Explain that in addition to these substances, we should not a) Use any substance that contains illegal drugs, b) Use any other habit-forming substances except under the care of a competent physician c) Misuse prescription and other drugs." But another commenter opined that "any substance that by its very structure has addictive properties - these would qualify as being against the Word of Wisdom - regardless of legal status", although this person also stated that "we need to replace fear based prohibition laws and the drug war with education and objective understanding of the correct uses and benefits and dangers associated with all of God's gifts".

A blogger on Times and Seasons also suggested that the use of medical marijuana might not be inconsistent with the letter or the spirit of the Word of Wisdom back in January 2004, so long as it is legal.

At this point, it would be useful to remind readers once again that I do NOT speak authoritatively for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; my opinions are basically my best interpretation of Church doctrine. But what concerns me is that a Church member might begin using medical marijuana in good faith that it is a therapeutic susbstance, then go into a temple worthiness interview and get blindsided by an "iron-rod" bishop and denied a temple recommend based upon an honest interpretational dispute. While most bishops are flexible, some are "iron-rodders"; perfection is not a prerequisite to be called as a bishop.

My advice to Latter-day Saints who are or want to become temple-worthy and who are considering the use of medical marijuana:

(1). Ensure it's legal and obtained only by an officially-certified provider. This means there must be a law at some level, either local, county, or state, permitting medical marijuana. It also must be obtained through a physician or any other provider officially certified by the jurisdiction.

(2). Seek personal inspiration or revelation from the Lord through the Holy Spirit. All LDS members have a right, and indeed are formally commissioned upon confirmation as members, to receive the Holy Ghost.

(3). Discuss it with the bishop or stake president in advance; they are the ones who determine temple worthiness and Church members have a right to know in advance whether any proposed course of action would impinge upon temple worthiness.

If a bishop or a stake president has no problem with it, then it's not a problem.


graceforgrace said...

I don't think there should be a problem with using marijuana for medicinal purposes...the trick is using it for medicinal purposes and not for recreational purposes. What exactly would they use marijuana for that we don't have now anyways?

Anonymous said...

In reference to "graceforgrace" The reason that I would use medical marijuana would be for ongoing 24/7 chronic sciatic nerve pain in which i have tried all the current medicines and surgeries and have found no relief.

SoCalRich said...

As a card carrying, medical marijuana user, and Latter Day Saint, I can honestly say that nobody will ever keep me from the temple by telling me that my medical use of cannabis is wrong. Luckily, I've had not one but two doctors, ironically both LDS(one was a former bishop), tell me that they would never consider medical use of cannabis to go against church doctrine or principles. In fact, my current bishop sees no problems with it either, so long as I adhere to the "medical use only" aspect. There may have been a time when I was much, much younger where recreational use was fine by my terms. Now that I'm "older" my usage is far from recreational. I get the feeling that this is one of those issues that the church leaves up to those at the head of congregations. Bishops, stake presidents, etc. But from this mormon's point of view, medical marijuana has saved my sanity. God put it on this Earth for a purpose. Thankfully I discovered that purpose.

Anonymous said...

Under the federal laws, marijuana is an illegal drug. In some states it is illegal. It would be inconsistant with any pollicy, church or otherwise to approve marijuana untill it was legal every where. Coffee is against the word of wisdom. Not caffeine. Anacin has caffeine and is accepted. When marijuana becomes legal, a pill will be accepted. Smoking it less likely.

Anonymous said...

You gotta be kidding me??!! Here is what I believe and ask yourself this question? If someone suffers not of their own free will, cancer, Parkinson's, arthritis, depression etc why as a compassionate and CHARITABLE member of our church not allow cannabis (NOT BY SMOKING) BUT rather administered by eatables or vapor. This is NO DIFFERENT than taking aloe vera for a burn etc.., you get the point!! Honestly, who out there member or not knows someone that is suffering physically, mentally etc and is on some type of controlled narcotic!!!! Remember something here.., "We believe in following the laws of our lands!" WE believe that we can go to doctor get diagnosed take the prescription to a Pharmacy or state licensed dispensary and obtain there MEDICINE!! Any med can be addictive? Is POP, OR SUGAR addictive? I am a worthy member of this church and anyone that is JUDGMENTAL about what everyone is taking is absurd! Is any Bishop going to tell a member that he or she should stop taking their prescribed medicine!!! Gimme a break!


Eric Franks said... For anyone who is LDS and a medical Cannabis Patient, and memebers and non members alike who agree that Cannabis should be allowed medically and industrially by its membership, and society.

Eric Franks said... Latter Day Sasints (Mormons) for Cannabis Liberation! Come join us on Facebook!

El Zorillo said...

To patently say that there is no medicinal use (intended by Heavenly Father) for cannabis is tantamount to saying that, in creating all things, He either 1) made a mistake; or 2) committed an oversight--both of which are inconsistent with our concept of an omniscient and perfect Creator. Therefore it necessarily follows that He intended for us to use it for the (psychoactive) properties He gave it--and this intended use could only be medicinal, as the only alternative (for the psychoactive properties) would be recreational and contrary to His will.

Anonymous said...

Read the book "Marijuana Gateway to Health: How Cannabis Protects Us from Cancer and Alzheimer's Disease" the euphoric high of marijuana is God's reward mechanism to get us to ingest it's healing and disease preventing compounds.

Anonymous said...

I was looking at the Word of Wisdom trying to figure out what part proscribes recreational drugs (I mean other than strong alcohol, wine, non-medicinal tobacco and hot drinks), but could not find it. Could someone kindly provide the reference?

Anonymous said...

D&c 89

Anonymous said...

Blessed are the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9)

Cannabis was used 12 ways: clothing, paper, cord, sails, fishnet, oil, sealant, incense, food, and in ceremony, relaxation and medicine.

A healing plant. On either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare 12 manner of fruits, and yielding her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelations 22:1-2)

For so the Lord said unto me, "I will take my rest and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs. For afore harvest, when the bud is perfect and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks and take away and cut down the branches." (Isaiah 18:4-5)

Anonymous said...

Personally I think that is between you and God. God created Marijuana while he created the earth, therefore it has a purpose. Deciphering that purpose and its intended application is the tough part of it. I know that I have felt very depressed in my life and Marijuana has helped me overcome some challenges and center my mind and heart in a way where I could see the problems which I was needing to overcome. That being said, the darkness in my soul at the time was made clearer through my use. I do not personally believe marijuana is bad at all. I believe that it is misconstrued and feared in our world because of a lack of understanding and irresponsibility of its use. When I read peoples opinions on marijuana who have not gone through what I have or even used the plant in any way it really seems silly the things they will say. Marijuana can do much good, but It can also do much harm in the wrong hands and when used inappropriately or in a manner that halts progression in your life. You see, I believe its not the plant that’s evil, It’s the individuals who use it to accomplish selfish and evil purposes. Many of these evil abuses stem directly from the Prohibition of the plant. Marijuana really can be a blessing. People are going to hate my opinion, but I know it’s true in my heart. By the way, I am a Latter Day Saint, and I’m not judging you or advising you. I’m only sharing my experience. I do not smoke Marijuana at this time in my life.

Anonymous said...


i left the last long comment... I just wanted to say that we all remain anonymous because of the stigma in our society and families. It's truly sad.

Anonymous said...

marijuana cures cancer and stops epileptic seizures..look it up through google

Tom Wall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.