An anti-marijuana pamphlet is showing up in the mail boxes of 7,000 Salt Lake homes, courtesy of Sen. Orrin Hatch's former law partner.
But the glossy-covered, 60-page publication co-authored by Salt Lake attorney Walter Plumb has ruffled some feathers. Hatch, R-Utah, wrote a foreword to "How Parents Can Help Children Live Marijuana Free."The guide states that "excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc." indicates someone smokes pot.
Despite community demands that he remove the language, Plumb stands by his product, which erroneously lists the Salt Lake Education Foundation as a sponsor. He also plans to distribute the pamphlet throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
"When you're a lay person, it's hard to make every (word) gender-neutral and politically correct. I wasn't interested in doing that - I wanted to tell it like I've seen it," the Salt Lake father of nine said.
"I'm an attorney and business guy, and I don't want to win a popularity contest. I think it's the best work on marijuana that's ever been out. I think this is specific and gives parents help and direction."
Plumb's nephew died of a heroin overdose more than a year ago. Since then, Plumb has researched available drug information, little of which is reader-friendly, he said. He co-wrote the booklet with Gerald Smith, director of criminology at the University of Utah, and Don Fallick, a freelance writer.
"If I would have known that one sentence would have reduced the credibility of the booklet, I certainly wouldn't want that in the book," co-author Smith said. "This is a community service project effort to help reduce the demand for drugs."
Hatch supports the work for its anticipated results, said spokesman Paul Smith.
"The senator knew the end result of this pamphlet is to keep kids off marijuana, and that it is a good project and he was honored to do the foreword," Paul Smith said.
The booklet addresses myths that pot experimentation is a natural part of growing up.
It includes a glossary of drug-culture slang, including "bong," "killer weed" and "the munchies." Some entries indicate certain slang is exclusive to blacks or Hispanics.
The State Office of Education looked at the publication but did not approve it, said Verne Larsen, state safe and drug-free schools specialist.
Plumb gave $30,000 of the $35,000 needed to produce and mail the pamphlets to parents of secondary students in the Salt Lake School District. A few friends donated the rest; Hatch was not one of them, Plumb said. Donations were processed through the Salt Lake Education Foundation, of which Plumb is a longtime member.
"I just wanted to say, `Hey, the Salt Lake Education Foundation is doing something,' " Plumb said.
While foundation director Daphne Williams knows Plumb meant well, her organization, which did not review the pamphlet or know that its name was on the cover until some patrons complained, asked him to remove the name.
Plumb placed a sticker over the foundation's name listing a number to call for additional copies. Many people have done so. Some also have called the foundation to praise the booklet.
In response to community concern, the foundation has implemented a policy that use of the foundation as a conduit for donations does not mean the foundation endorses a project.
"I think we all learned a bit of a lesson from that," said foundation member Karen Derrick, president of the Salt Lake School Board. "I embarrassingly accepted it without asking any questions."
Williams noted that foundation-sponsored materials are thoroughly reviewed to ensure they equally represent an ethnically diverse population. Roughly one-third of Salt Lake schoolchildren are minorities.
"We can't go out there and make all these blanket-type statements that generalize, that would put fear in the minds of many parents," said Williams, who says she is involved in environmental issues and does not condone marijuana use.