Written by Joshua Gervacio

After years of physical abuse to his body from football and MMA, my friend’s shoulder, back and knees no longer worked the same. Everything in his body hurt to the point where it was difficult to live an average life. After talking with a doctor, he began to use medical marijuana.

Using medical marijuana is no different than using other prescription medications prescribed by a doctor. Every medication has its risks, and as long as you take the necessary precautions, it can be beneficial to those who need it.

A common habit I’ve observed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to group all those who consume cannabis, regardless of  medical needs, as stoners just looking to get high when they are two completely different circumstances.

“While we are not in a position to evaluate specific medical claims, the Church understands that there are some individuals who may benefit from the medical use of compounds found in marijuana,” according to a Church statement.

When my friend decided to become a member of the Church, he brought up his medical needs to the missionaries. The elders informed him that in Colorado and in states where medical marijuana is legal, it is OK for members of the Church to consume marijuana only if prescribed by a doctor and is not smoked, so different forms of consumption like oils and edibles are OK to use.

Jeremy R. Johnson, medical director at Shropshire and Mid Wales Severn Hospice, conducted two peer-reviewed studies to determine if the THC extract found in marijuana actually helps treat pain with cancer patients. The study showed marijuana is effective in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer pain that was not effectively treated by other prescription pills.

Marijuana has its place helping those with medical needs.

Growing up as a member of the Church, I have lived and respected the Word of Wisdom. Marijuana was one of the illegal drugs to avoid. I always looked at marijuana as an addictive drug, the gateway drug to things like crack and heroin. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to see the relief cannabis provided for those who are in pain and suffering that I began to rethink my position on medical marijuana.

There are many who would benefit from the use of medical cannabis. However, due to the double standard, they would not accept the prescription because they feel they are doing something morally wrong or would be disappointing their family, but these same people see nothing wrong with prescriptions for opioid   painkillers, which are more similar to heroin.

“Every month in Utah, 24 individuals die from prescription drug overdoses,” according to utah.gov. “Utah ranked 4th in the U.S. for drug poisoning deaths.”

For my friend to continue enjoying the sports he loves, he had to keep taking prescription pills that were not only dangerous and addictive, but would also leave him feeling tired and sluggish. He eventually reached a point where he could not make it through an average day without popping a few pills — he was addicted.

Since switching to cannabis, he gets the relief he needs without the draining side effects, and it has helped him overcome his dependence on  painkillers. My friend is now a baptized member of the Church who uses cannabis medically.

We must stop looking at people with medical marijuana cards as just “stoners” that need a legal excuse to get high and look at them as people who are seeking a medicine that just works.