The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has updated its general handbook to clarify that while it supports its faithful in their physician-approved use of medical marijuana, it “does not approve of vaping marijuana unless the medical provider has authorized it based on medical necessity.”
Anthony D. Perkins, a member of the church’s General Authority Seventy, explained that the church handbook exists “to provide guidance… to millions of church leaders and members throughout the world.”
The Utah-based LDS, known colloquially as the “Mormon Church,” first approved of medical marijuana use in the general handbook in July 2020, twenty months after voters in the Beehive State approved a medical marijuana initiative by a 53 percent vote.
That initiative as implemented by the Utah legislature does not permit the smoking of marijuana, only its vaporization or ingestion in edible forms. But other states with sizeable Mormon populations, such as Nevada and Arizona, have approved not just medical marijuana, but recreational marijuana smoking.
Regardless, the handbook states that “The Church does not approve of smoking marijuana, including for medical purposes,” and “opposes the use of marijuana for non-medical purposes.”
Mormon Beliefs on Substance Use
The Church is famously strict on its prohibitions on the use of substances by its members.
The Word of Wisdom, believed by Mormons to be a commandment of God revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio on February 27, 1833, warns “That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good.”
In addition to banning the use of alcohol, the faithful believe God told Smith, “tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man.”
Faithful Mormon do not even use caffeine, because of the Scripture’s admonition that, “hot drinks are not for the body or belly,” which has been interpreted to mean coffee and tea, and further understood to mean the caffeine in those drinks, as well as cold coffee, iced tea, sodas, and energy drinks.
That same book within what is known as the Doctrine & Covenants provides the guidance Mormons can use to justify medical marijuana use. The Prophet said God had revealed that “Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.”
While not explicitly mentioned, the church handbook warns members to “avoid substances that are harmful, illegal, or addictive or that impair judgment.”