A Salt Lake City-area lawyer named Walter J. Plumb III is trying to remove Utah's medical marijuana initiative from the ballot in November. Plumb, who owns a pharmaceutical company called Pharmics Inc., asserts that his religious right to be intolerant of sick people who use cannabis to treat their illness is guaranteed by the constitution. He has spent over $100,000 of his own money in his effort to prevent allowing Utahans from voting on the issue.
The sticking point for Plumb is a provision in Prop. 2 that would forbid landlords from discriminating against potential tenants solely because of their status as medical marijuana patients. This would force Plumb—a practicing Mormon and owner of a number of residential properties that he leases out—to associate with people and practices that run counter to his deeply held beliefs, something his lawsuit says is a violation of his religious liberties. The suit also claims that being forced to rent to medical marijuana patients amounts to "compelled speech."
"Members of all religions, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have constitutional rights to exercise their religious beliefs. This includes the right not to consort with, be around, or do business with people engaging in activities which their religion finds repugnant," the suit reads. "Any practicing member of the LDS faith would find this mandate deeply offensive and incredibly repulsive to their religious beliefs and their way of life."
Polls show that two-thirds of Utahans are in favor of the medical marijuana bill. If it passes, it will be the 31st state to legalize medical cannabis.