Utah businessman and philanthropist Walter Plumb III appears to be planning a new strategy to defeat a ballot initiative that would expand medical marijuana in the state — despite a pledge to scale back campaign activities against the effort.
Plumb spoke to KUER following a press conference on Thursday in which Gov. Gary Herbert and other state leaders unveiled draft legislation that they say would proceed regardless of the outcome of Proposition 2, the medical cannabis initiative.
Plumb said although he is still opposed to legalizing medical marijuana, he would not spend any more money on media ads beyond what had already been paid for.
Yet Plumb and other key opponents of the initiative, ahead of a scheduled interview Friday with KUER at his office, appeared to be strategizing new ways to defeat the proposition.
After participants realized a reporter had overheard some of their meeting, Plumb asked to reschedule the interview.
In a follow-up call to Plumb’s office on Friday evening, Plumb declined to identify other participants of the meeting or reschedule an interview on Proposition 2.
Plumb has given more than $100,000 to the Drug Safe Utah coalition and is funding his own effort under a campaign called “Truth About Proposition 2.” He’s also pursuing an injunction in federal court to block the measure.
During the open-door meeting with about six or seven opponents of the initiative, Plumb asked for ideas on how to continue to challenge the initiative.
At the office of Walter Plumb, Utah businessman against Prop 2, for an interview and he’s in a meeting with the door left open where they’re strategizing next steps on campaign against Prop 2. #utpol
— Julia Ritchey (@juliaritchey) October 5, 2018
One man, whom KUER could not identify, said a primary reason they should continue to pursue defeating Prop 2 is to gain leverage during negotiations over the compromise bill that lawmakers will debate in a special session following the Nov. 6 election.
Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes disputed this point in a tweet responding to the thread on Plumb’s meeting.
“They’re wrong,” Hughes tweeted. “The outcome of the election won’t be a leverage point for either side.”
They’re wrong. The outcome of the election won’t be a leverage point for either side.
— Speaker Greg Hughes (@GHughes51) October 5, 2018
Gov. Herbert also said he would support the draft legislation to expand access to marijuana beyond the limited legalization state legislators approved during the last general session.
“If it passes, we’ll fix whatever problems are in the initiative. If it doesn’t pass, we’re going to come back together and create legislation that encompasses what we’ve already said we’re going to do,” Herbert said.
Ballots will begin being mailed Oct. 8, leaving little time for either side to sway voter opinions.