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Sen. Mark Madsen of Saratoga Springs is a known Republican and therefore not on my Christmas card list. But so far, Sen. Madsen has offered the most intelligent piece of legislation on the matter of medical marijuana.

Unfortunately for Sen. Madsen, the LDS Church doesn't approve of his bill. The reasons are vague, but there might be a clue in the church's position on other medical marijuana bills.

For example, the church does not oppose the marijuana bill sponsored by Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem. Their law "would allow extracts from the plant that do not contain the psychoactive chemical THC."

This, of course, is the same logic that gave us caffeine-free Coke, a really bad joke Mormons played on ourselves while looking for a way around an ecclesiastical caution regarding the evils of cola drinks.

We could, I suppose, accept both bills. That way we might end up with a medication that actually works, as well as a useless version like "Sister Mary Jane's Seizure Medication. THC-free! Especially for Mormons."

Let's not. Instead, let's look at personal research.

Madsen and I are both go-to-church Mormons who have recently tried medical marijuana. He partook last year. I did mine last week.

We both tried it for chronic pain. Madsen because of an injured back, and me because of two rebuilt shoulders.

Our experiences differed in several ways. Madsen was 400 miles away in Colorado, where medical marijuana is permitted, and I was right here in Utah where it (along with a bunch of other stuff) is not.

Yes, I know it was illegal in Utah. I did it anyway. Call the cops.

I don't know about Madsen's pain, but medical marijuana helped alleviate some of mine. It's almost certainly easier on me than the bucket of Naproxen, Ibuprofen and Tylenol I go through in a month.

But I have something that Madsen probably doesn't when it comes to the comparison of our recent marijuana experiences — namely, a lot more experience.

While I never kept track, I smoked or secondhand inhaled half an acre of marijuana during high school, the military and the time prior to my LDS mission.

It wasn't my drug of choice, because it made my nose itch. Probably an allergy or hay fever issue. But the pleasant feeling was worth it.

We called it "grass" back in the day, and we "toked" it. It came in plastic baggies we called "lids" from people we identified as "pushers," as in "My pusher uncle gave me a lid for my birthday."

Marijuana itself was also different 40 years ago. We toked California skunkweed and Mexican ditch grass, herb that grew wild or clandestinely in somebody's backyard. We thought it was great, but only because we didn't know any better.

Things changed since my last use. Weed has been genetically modified and refined to increase its effectiveness. That was my undoing last week.

Someone — I'm not saying who — gave me some medical marijuana in the form of two small green lozenges. In the safety of my own home, I took one. It tasted like weed, smelled like weed, but nothing happened.

I had only ever smoked marijuana. No one told me that when taken orally, it doesn't get into your system for about an hour. So when nothing happened, I took the other one.

Ninety minutes later, the pain in my shoulders was gone. I felt pretty good. Then someone important from work called.

I couldn't make my face work. I babbled idiotically while trying to figure out why I couldn't sequence my blinking or get my lips to form the right word. I kept saying "ribbit" instead of "edit."

Medical marijuana works, people. Like every other drug, we just have to get the dosages right and a handle on quality control.

Oh, and keep it out of the hands of idiots.

Robert Kirby can be reached at or