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Despite Medical Cannabis Compromise, Some Opponents Still Seek Path To Defeat Prop 2

Julia Ritchey
Gov. Herbert unveils draft legislation on Oct. 4 to expand medical marijuana access following the Nov. 6 election.

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.


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.”


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.


Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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