Video Shows Canvasser Lying About Medical Marijuana Initiative

A newly released video shows a canvasser lying about a medical marijuana initiative in an effort to convince people to withdraw support.
Poll: U.S. Support for Marijuana Legalization at an All-Time High
Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Controversy has erupted in Utah over an anti-cannabis group’s efforts to remove signatures from a petition supporting medical marijuana. The Utah Medical Association has been hiring canvassers to knock on the doors of people who signed a petition in favor of legalizing medical marijuana. But the canvassers have been misleading the petition’s signers in an effort to get them to remove their names. Now, a supporter of legal medical marijuana has caught them in the act.

Group Misleads People To Remove Signatures From Petition

A woman claiming to be with the Utah Medical Association (UMA) and the County Clerk’s office was caught on video lying about a ballot initiative aiming to legalize medical marijuana in Utah.

The video shows an unidentified woman posing as a door-to-door canvasser for UMA. She attempts to convince a woman who covertly filmed their interaction to drop her support for the ballot initiative.

The woman who signed the petition pushes back, pointing out the contradictory, seemingly fabricated information the canvasser presents.

First, the canvasser attempts to explain that legalizing medical marijuana would make smoking cannabis a felony. Next, she claims the ballot initiative would mean patients would require a recommendation from the Utah State Health Department, not their personal physician. Then, the canvasser offers unintelligible claims about the illegality of CBD oil in Utah (it’s legal, by the way). The canvasser even tries to convince the woman that the petition itself was illegal.

The woman recording the video, however, isn’t having any of it. Ultimately, the canvasser retreats after trying to explain that “there’s a big difference between marijuana and cannabis.”

The lies and incoherent statements were apparently crafted to make supporters of the ballot initiative doubt whether they actually knew what they had signed, and withdraw their support.

Misinformation Campaign Aimed At Derailing Medical Cannabis

Supporters of the legal medical marijuana initiative have already gathered enough signatures to get the issue on the November ballot. In Utah, that meant acquiring 113,000 signatures across 27 of the state’s 29 senate districts.

In a few of those districts, however, the petition just barely met the required threshold. If opponents of the initiative can get people to drop their names from the petition in those districts, the measure is at risk of being stricken from the November ballot.

That’s what makes the misleading efforts by UMA canvassers so “underhanded and sneaky,” in the words of Dave Cromar, a Utah resident who helped gather signatures for the petition.

“The video gives you an idea of the kind of people they have working for them,” Cromar said. “Canvassers have been given a script of talking points that make no sense at all.”

The video gives supporters of the medical marijuana initiative “a powerful indictment of this appalling nullification campaign,” said Christine Stenquist. Stenquist is executive director of Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE), the group behind the release of the video.

A spokesperson for the Utah Medical Association denies the woman in the video works for the group. “We doubt seriously that the video is one of our people,” said Mark Fotheringham. “She’s not using any of our arguments and is totally distorting what the Drug Safe Utah campaign is trying to do.”

Whether the woman caught lying on camera works for UMA or not, she represented herself as such. For now, the ballot initiative is hanging on by a thread. But UMA’s efforts pose a serious threat. Thankfully, one supporter of legal medical cannabis stood up to the deceitful maneuvers of the Utah Medical Association. The word is out.

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