Is Utah Marijuana Compact the New Blueprint for Stopping Pot Legalization?

An image from "Cannabis Inc.," a program highlighting Project SAM produced by ABC Australia.
An image from "Cannabis Inc.," a program highlighting Project SAM produced by ABC Australia.

We recently told you about a poll suggesting a majority of Coloradans were unhappy with marijuana legalization -- findings embraced by anti-pot activists who'd ignored previous surveys showing the opposite. Now, cannabis critics like these are working to prevent legalization from spreading to other states -- and a document called the Utah Marijuana Compact offers insight into their methods.

See also: Marijuana Poll Showing Unhappiness Over Legalization Embraced by Anti-Pot Activists

Bob Doyle, right, with Paula Riggs and Dr. Christian Thurstone at the 2013 press conference announcing the launch of Project SAM.
Bob Doyle, right, with Paula Riggs and Dr. Christian Thurstone at the 2013 press conference announcing the launch of Project SAM.
Photo by Sam Levin

Information about the compact comes to us via Cannabis Now magazine. In an article headlined "Anti-Marijuana Group Project SAM Uses Federally Funded Non-Profits to Push 2015 Legislation," journalist Angela Bacca takes a close look at Project SAM, a group launched in Denver circa 2013 by former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy and ex-White House drug policy adviser Kevin Sabet.

In the piece, Bacca suggests that many of those involved in Project SAM have a profit motive for maintaining marijuana prohibition -- a theme also sounded by a piece in The Nation entitled "The Real Reason Pot Is Still Illegal."

Along the way, Bacca references a Utah group called the South Salt Lake Coalition for Drug Free Youth, whose executive director, Rob Timmerman, argues that "new legislation must be introduced before the medical cannabis problem gets out of hand" in Utah. As such, the coalition worked with a thus-far unnamed group said to be affiliated with Project SAM to adopt guidelines dubbed the Utah Marijuana Compact. This effort at creating "responsible approaches to medical cannabis" echoes the approach favored by Project SAM -- stopping short of a call for total prohibition, but asking for severe restrictions in order to prevent pot from getting into the hands of children.

Kevin Sabet, left, with former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy at the aforementioned 2013 Project SAM press conference.
Kevin Sabet, left, with former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy at the aforementioned 2013 Project SAM press conference.
Photo by Sam Levin

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We've included the entire document below, but the UMC is founded on four principles: "Protect Families" (because "abuse of marijuana harms individuals, families and communities"); "Strong Economy" (since "Utah's strong economy relies on a healthy workforce free from impairment and addiction"); "Medicinal Value" (cannabis-based products may have some value, but they should be limited to ones that are "FDA approved, pharmacy dispensed, non-smoked"); and "Law Enforcement" (the group favors "treatment over incarceration for marijuana offenders").

Here's the compact in its entirety.

Utah Marijuana Compact

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.


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