Gehrke: LDS Church's stance on medical marijuana doesn't make sense. Why is it OK for a Nevada Mormon but not a …

At a 2010 conference for Mormon priesthood leaders in Colorado Springs, the first question asked was about the church’s policy on medical marijuana.

“The church has no position,” one church leader said, “on medical marijuana.”

On Tuesday, Nelson and his counselors in the faith’s governing First Presidency tried to keep straddling that fence with a statement on Utah’s medical marijuana ballot initiative. The language was squishier than green Jell-O at a ward picnic.

The top Mormon leaders did not directly oppose medical marijuana. They did, however, throw cold water on the ballot initiative, commending the Utah Medical Association’s blistering condemnation of the measure, which — as the church statement put it — “would compromise the health and safety of Utah communities.”

The statement went on to try to couch the church’s position as supporting policy driven by science — hardly surprising, given that Nelson was, after all, a hot-shot heart surgeon in his previous profession.

It is in the public’s best interest, they wrote, when new drugs “undergo the scrutiny of medical scientists and official approval bodies.”

That’s a reasonable philosophy. But it is also at odds with the church’s practice when it comes to marijuana.

In practice, a Nevada Mormon with cancer in West Wendover can, on the advice of a doctor, use medical marijuana and remain in good standing in the church.

Why then, should a Latter-day Saint living a few blocks away, in Utah’s Wendover, be seen as at odds with the church for seeking relief from medical cannabis? Why is it fine for a member living in, say, Dinosaur, Colo., but not for a member living 30 miles away in Vernal? Are science, medicine and faith so fickle?

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