Catholic Bishops cite ‘potentially unethical biomedical research’ in opposition to Amendment 3


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Several Catholic bishops from across the state of Missouri are weighing in medical marijuana ballot measures being put before voters on November 6.

The Catholic Bishops of Missouri have said that they are taking no position on medical marijuana itself, they have specific concerns with one of the particular ballot initiative: Amendment 3.

Amendment 3, also known as the “Find the Cures” initiative, is the question put forth by Springfield attorney and lawyer Brad Bradshaw that would impose a 15 percent tax on retail sales of medical marijuana. The revenue collected would go toward a state research institute, where researchers would study diseases.

It is the research aspect of the proposed constitutional amendment that has the Catholic Bishops of Missouri issuing a statement in opposition to Amendment 3.

The statement was signed by Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis; Most Reverend James V. Johnston, Jr., Bishop of Kansas City – St. Joseph; Most Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Bishop of Jefferson City; and Most Reverend Edward M. Rice, Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

They raised concerns about the creation of a tax-funded stream of revenue for “potentially unethical biomedical research.”

“We oppose this initiative, however, because it contains no limitation on the types of research that could be funded by the taxes generated,” the Catholic bishops state. “The significant funding stream created by this initiative would not be subject to legislative appropriation or review and could be used for research involving the destruction and use of embryonic stem cells or aborted fetal remains. This we must oppose.”

They noted that even if research has a noble end — such as eliminating and treating diseases such as cancer, ALS, and Parkinson’s — the dignity of human life, including life in its most nascent stages, must be respected.

The statement points to Catholic teachings that call on everyone to be mindful of the ethical and social responsibility of actions with respect to medical research. The value of research should be measured in reference to “the unconditional respect owed to every human being at the moment of his or her existence…” (Dignitas Personae ¶10), the Bishops cited.

“We urge Catholics and all people of good will to oppose Amendment 3 for these reasons,” the Bishops state.

There are two other questions relating to medical marijuana on the general election ballot, neither of which the Bishops addressed.

“We are sympathetic to those who seek relief from debilitating illnesses and express no position on the propriety of medical marijuana as a means of relieving suffering,” the Catholic Bishops of Missouri state.