Although psychedelic policy reform has already found support across the ideological spectrum, a resounding new endorsement from an active Mormon bishop—who is also a former Republican state representative from Utah—indicates acceptance still growing entheogens in American society.
Earlier this month, Brad Daw appeared on the Jimmy Rex Show podcast to share his own experience at an ayahuasca ceremony in Costa Rica, and how it served to strengthen his faith. In the interview, Daw also highlighted his journey from skeptic to supporter – albeit nuanced – of medical marijuana reform in Utah. In Daw’s account, the two experiences collectively suggest a more progressive approach to taboos of illegal substances within the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
The interview comes just months after Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) signed a bill to create a working group study and make recommendations on the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs and possible regulations for their legal use.
“Why would [psychedelics] no place in the church if we believe in using the best medicine science has available?” Daw said on the podcast.
As for his own experience with ayahuasca, the former GOP lawmaker explained that he was drawn to the natural psychedelic when another church member revealed to him his own positive experiences with it; a church lobbyist later condoned his actions. “It gave her a lot of comfort. And it gave me a lot of comfort, too,” Daw said.
Daw’s interest was further heightened by an episode of Jordan Petersen’s podcast, in which he interviewed renowned Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Dr. Roland Griffiths.
Daw ended up attending a five-day ayahuasca ceremony in Costa Rica. There he observed that much of the experience turned out to be profound and that he “felt the presence of God”. (Known for inducing vomiting and diarrhea, Daw oddly used a series of childish euphemisms — “boys room,” “doo-doo,” “potty” — to describe his own physical reaction to ayahuasca.)
While the Mormon bishop has become a proponent of psychedelic use, his relationship with marijuana is a bit more nuanced. Although he told Jimmy Rex that learning about the CBD-focused Charlotte’s Web strain led him to appreciate the medical benefits of marijuana, he remains “against” recreational cannabis.
In 2016, Daw teamed up with fellow Utah State Rep. Evan Vickers (R), Daw sponsored a restrictive and ill-fated medical marijuana legalization bill.
Daw also played a role in the drama that unfolded in Utah two years later, when the LDS Church wielded its political influence to Fight Proposition 2the state’s 2018 medical marijuana ballot initiative.
Although the measure continued to pass at the polls, Daw, the LDS Church and other organizations advocated behind the scenes for amended and more restrictive legislation, which cannabis advocates backed as part of a settlement agreement. Compromise signed by then-Governor Gary Herbert (R). law in December 2018.
Jackdaw wrote an official ballot argument against the medical cannabis ballot initiative at the time.
“Instead of pharmacies, it plans dispensaries (the initiative’s term for jar shops) to sell a variety of products such as gummies and brownies,” he wrote. “Instead of prescribed dosages managed by licensed pharmacists, the initiative allows anyone to receive the equivalent of 100 joints every two weeks. It’s recreational marijuana, not medical marijuana.
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Image courtesy of The Jimmy Rex Show.