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Utah voters passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana. The Mormon church helped derail it.

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13.12.2018

It took Christine Stenquist years to find something to take the edge off of her chronic pain.

Bedridden for a decade and a half after a massive seizure, she suffered from nausea triggered by pain medication that also gave her depression and insomnia.

After exhausting options afforded by standard medicine, Stenquist decided six years to try something a little more unconventional. “I turned to my 19-year-old daughter. I [said], “Honey, do any of your friends smoke weed?”

It turned out that marijuana was, indeed, the solution that she had been searching for. Not long after smoking her first joint, she was no longer in constant pain, and she could finally sleep and keep down food.

The Utah native was elated when voters in her state in November approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana. Now, just one month after that historic vote, Stenquist and the pro-cannabis group that she heads up is suing Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), and the state’s Health Department for vacating the measure approved by the voters and putting in place one more to the liking of conservatives and the Mormon Church — a powerful political force in the state.

Stenquist heads Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) one of a handful of groups that was instrumental in last month’s vote to legalize medical marijuana.

Nearly 53 percent of voters in the state approved Proposition 2 on Election Day, bucking the state’s Republican leaders.

More strikingly, the vote was a repudiation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which had lobbied heavily against the bill. (More than six in 10 Utah residents are Mormon, and church leaders are not shy about weighing on political issues.)

Stenquist had hoped that passage of the bill meant that that she no longer would have to resort to vaping secretly in her bedroom, hiding in embarrassment from her children. “I shouldn’t have to live like a criminal because I choose a certain medication,” she told ThinkProgress, choking up during a recent interview.

It turns out didn’t matter what Utahns had to say about Prop 2. Last week, the state legislature, in a special session called specifically to address the bill, threw out the measure. Prop 2 was........

© ThinkProgress