The Mormon church ramped up its opposition this week to a proposal that would allow medical marijuana in Utah, even as faith leaders insisted they support patients using it under strict controls.

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At a news conference Thursday with state heavy hitters, a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took the unusual step of speaking publicly against the ballot initiative being decided by voters in November.

The church is “deeply concerned” the proposal doesn’t have enough oversight, said Jack Gerard, a member of a midlevel global church leadership panel.

Here are the basics behind the situation:

  • The Utah Medical Cannabis Act would create a state-regulated market with potentially about 20 licensed dispensaries, as well as cultivators, processors and independent testers.
  • It would allow patients with certain medical conditions to use MMJ in a number of forms but would ban smoking.
  • Opponents say the measure could lead to recreational marijuana.

The Drug Safe Utah coalition that pushed back against the plan Thursday included doctors, police officers and public figures such as Utah Jazz president Steve Starks.

This isn’t the first time the Mormon church has weighed in on the issue.

In May, the church issued a statement citing an analysis that had raised “grave concerns” about the initiative and warned of “serious adverse consequences” if it became law.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily