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Find KUER's reporting on the races, candidates and more for Utah’s 2018 midterm elections. Click here for our graphics of the U.S. Senate race, 4 Congressional races and Utah ballot initiatives.

Mormon Youth Leader Makes One Last Pitch Against Medical Marijuana Proposition

Photo of Harkness.
Lee Hale / KUER
Lisa Harkness of the Mormon Church (left) and DeAnn Kettenring of Utah PTA spoke with press at Church headquarters Friday afternoon.

Sister Lisa Harkness, First Counselor in the General Primary Presidency that oversees Mormon children, is worried that Utah voters might be confused about what is on their ballot next week.

Harkness is one of the top leaders for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tasked with opposing the medical marijuana initiative known as Proposition 2. She wants to make it clear that the ballot initiative and a compromise being worked out between state lawmakers and special interest groups are not the same thing.

“The compromise is not written into Proposition 2 but Proposition 2 still stands, and we as a coalition are still opposed to it,” Harkness told reporters at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City on Friday afternoon.

Harkness reiterated the Mormon Church’s stance that the proposition, as it is written, allows far too much flexibility with how marijuana would be sold and consumed.

She warned it could get in the hands of children, possibly causing developmental issues and addiction.

Church officials, including Harkness, have clarified that they do not oppose the medicinal use of medical marijuana but strongly oppose any recreational use.

“We don’t want to solve one problem and at the same time cause other problems for families, children in our communities,” Harkness said.

Polling has shown the proposition’s popularity has declined in recent months, particularly since Mormon leaders publicly voiced their disapproval and began work on the compromise.

No matter what happens with the vote next week, state lawmakers have promised to hold a special session soon to create a highly regulated system for distributing marijuana for medicinal use across Utah.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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