Written by Don Byrd
[UPDATE 8/25: After the LDS Church announced it is not opposed to the medical marijuana initiative, the complaint in this case was amended to focus solely on property rights of landlords, rather than religious liberty rights.]
A complaint filed last week claims that a medical marijuana initiative headed to Utah voters in November would violate the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs and should be taken off the ballot. Proposition 2 would legalize marijuana for Utahns with certain health conditions and includes one provision that is a particular target of the complaint. The Salt Lake Tribune explains:
The lawsuit takes issue with a provision of the ballot measure that would prevent landlords from not renting to a medical marijuana cardholder, saying that could create an issue of Mormon property owners being forced into renting to people who use cannabis.
“In the United States of America, members of all religions, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have a constitutional right to exercise their religious beliefs,” the complaint reads. “This includes the right not to consort with, be around, or do business with people engaging in activities which their religion finds repugnant.
The suit argues that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, supports the view that religious liberty rights include the right to be exempt from state nondiscrimination laws. Accordingly, the argument goes, landlords should not be required to rent to tenants who use cannabis.
“The State of Utah is attempting to compel the speech of Utah landowners by suppressing their ability to speak out against cannabis use and consumption by only renting to tenants who do not possess or consume cannabis,” the complaint reads, “and who support their viewpoints in opposition against cannabis possession and consumption.”
Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to stop the initiative from reaching voters to protect the religious liberty of landlords and others who object to marijuana use.