Support for medical marijuana remains high despite criticism from the Mormon church

Two in every three Utah voters back the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in the state, according to a new Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

Support for the measure remains high, though the survey shows some voters have changed their minds in recent months, when a group that included top Republican politicians sounded off against the measure.

Some 66 percent of voters say they support the initiative, which would legalize marijuana possession and use for approved patients with ailments like cancer and chronic pain. That’s a drop from a Tribune poll in January, when 76 percent said they somewhat or strongly supported the measure.

That dip follows consistent polling showing support over 70 percent. (In January, 76 percent of respondents told The Tribune they supported the measure. In October, 75 percent supported it.)

Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune

Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune

What remains to be seen is whether the predominant faith will come out more strongly against the measure than its indirect statements of concern so far.

“This is not a hill they want to die on,” said Matthew Bowman, an associate professor of history at Henderson State University (Arkansas) who also wrote a book on the Mormon faith.

Bowman recalled the church’s attempts in the 1930s to prevent Utah politicians from ratifying an amendment to repeal alcohol prohibition in the United States. The state cast the deciding vote in favor of allowing alcohol sales after nearly 15 years prohibiting it.

As the marijuana measure continues to poll well, and as church members continue to believe marijuana should be used for medical — rather than recreational —

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