BY MIKEL WEISSER
In a sign the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints may be evolving, Aug 16 the church issued new guidelines known as “The Word of Wisdom,” which, for the first time, explicitly approve of medical marijuana usage.
Labeled as an official church statement, the new “The Word of Wisdom” statement may reshape the way LDS (Mormons) conduct their lives. “Substances such as marijuana … should be used only for medicinal purposes as prescribed by a competent physician,” the document reads.
The church periodically issues updated guidance on lifestyle choices for its members. While the language is framed as a restriction, this is the first time the church has openly, officially, allowed that cannabis can be used medicinally in accordance with church teachings.
As the edict explains, “The Word of Wisdom is a law of health for the physical and spiritual benefit of God’s children. It includes instruction about what foods are good for us and those substances to avoid.” Previously cannabis had been considered simply “destructive, habit-forming or addictive,” with no allowance for medicinal use.
Elsewhere on the church website, church followers can found a slightly reworded version of the same instructions on medical cannabis use. “Such habit-forming substances should be avoided except under the care of a competent physician, and then used only as prescribed.”
Worldwide more than fifteen million LDS members may now consider cannabis therapies for chronic pain, epilepsy, and a host of other ailments and not have to break church law. Nearly half a million LDS members live in Arizona and the community’s historic impact on the state reaches back to US pioneering days during the Mexican War (1846-1848). Culturally, Mormons still dominate in business and politics, though they account for only about 5% of the population.
Popular beverages like coffee, lattes, mochas, and both green and black teas are still explicitly forbidden. Vaping is also out of the question, except perhaps if a doctor has “prescribed” it in medical marijuana cases.