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Meet the Utah Man Fighting to Keep Medical Marijuana Off the Ballot

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Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

Joint Opinions

Meet the Utah Man Fighting to Keep Medical Marijuana Off the Ballot

Walter Plumb, the former law partner of U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch who has a history of distributing racially charged pamphlets, is spending $100,000 of his own personal finances in an effort to stop Utah from passing a conservative medical marijuana bill.

One lawyer is particularly focused on making sure that medical cannabis legislation does not progress in the state of Utah — and he has a troubling backstory.

In 1998, U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Trump-enabling Utah Republican, affixed his name to an anti-cannabis pamphlet that can be most accommodatingly described as retrograde. “How Parents Can Help Children Live Marijuana Free,” to which Hatch contributed the foreword, can best be described as dishonest, borderline racist nonsense.

According to the pamphlet, it’s easy to tell if someone is a cannabis user. Stoners display “excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc.” In other words: If you are a liberal — the kind of touchy-feely socialist who would stick out like a heretic in deeply conservative Utah — you are probably a pot user.

This rhetoric is the product of Walter Plumb, a Salt Lake City attorney who was once law partners with Hatch. At the time, Plumb praised his own work, which he co-authored with a criminologist as the “the best work on marijuana that’s ever been out,” and declined to apologize or even justify the pamphlet’s more outrageous, Nixonian claims, such as asserting that a teen’s sudden interest in “Rastafari” stuff is a clear sign that they have a drug problem.

Hatch doesn’t deserve a pass. His spokesman told the Deseret News that the senator was confident the book was a “good project” that would “keep kids off of marijuana,” and in his foreword, the senator deplored a “morally depraved society” that has “chosen to embrace, rather than attack, this plague” of marijuana use. It’s worth noting that Hatch says he now sort of supports cannabis, saying that it can “change people’s lives for the better” and working to approve medical marijuana research at the federal level, now that voters have decided they like it.

But the real wrongdoer here is Plumb. And look! He’s at it again.

Plumb, now a real estate developer and owner of a pharmaceutical company, still feels so strongly about keeping legal cannabis away from all Utahans that he is spending $100,000 of his own money to stop it, as the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Plumb is also the leader of Drug Free Utah, the organization founded to keep a medical marijuana effort off the November ballot.

And since Drug Free Utah’s effort to convince the more than 100,000 registered voters who signed the petition to change their minds failed, Plumb is also the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to keep the measure away from voters.

Why? What could possibly inspire such zeal? According to a Deseret News article on the pamphlet, Plumb lost a close relative to a heroin overdose. In a recent interview, Plumb did not mention that, nor any connection to the opiate crisis — nor yet any data that would justify or at least explain his distaste for legal cannabis.

“What they want is recreational marijuana,” Plumb told The Salt Lake Tribune last week. “The right to get high.”

“The forgotten group in this whole thing is kids,” he added. “Junior high kids and high school kids.”

The Utah Medical Cannabis Act, if approved by voters 18 and older, does not allow for personal cannabis cultivation, nor does it allow for cannabis to be smoked, by anyone. It is among the most “conservative” cannabis ballot initiatives seen in America by design.

Plumb’s opposition is not based on the facts of the bill. Let’s not forget that, even if this were a legalization measure, which it is not, according to virtually every study conducted on the matter, marijuana legalization does not appear to affect youth use rates.

Unfortunately, the Plumbs of the world persist and are willing to squander their personal fortunes in the name of anti-cannabis activism.

TELL US, who are other prominent figures pushing against cannabis?

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