SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch's punny speech on the Senate floor about medical marijuana Wednesday is getting a long drag on social media.
The conservative 83-year-old Utah Republican packed several pot puns into his announcement supporting medicinal cannabis and legislation to expand research.
Starting with it's "high time" Congress addressed the issue, Hatch went on to call his bipartisan initiative a “joint effort” that would allow scientists to delve into the "weeds” on the effectiveness and safety of medical marijuana.
“To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana," he said. "That's why I've decided to roll out the MEDS Act."
"Sen. Orrin Hatch's pun game is dope," tweeted Robert Hasler.
Alan Kessler, who describes himself on Facebook as a curmudgeon of questionable repute, posted that Hatch put out an "impressively pun-filled" announcement. "Hatch missed his calling," he tweeted.
Intro to Mary Jane, a Twitter account self-described as a welcoming place to learn about cannabis, tweeted, "This guy has the right idea."
Several tweets called it a "masterpiece of weed puns." Another called it "puntastic."
And Tracy C. tweeted that Hatch slipped 420 pot jokes into his speech.
It wasn't quite that many. But the senator was well aware of the marijuana references, saying at one point with a chuckle, "Now, all puns aside, it will surprise no one that I am strongly against the recreational use of marijuana."
MSNBC's "MTP Daily" host Chuck Todd had fun with Hatch's announcement on a segment called In Case You Missed It or "whiffed it," saying press releases from members of Congress can be very dry.
"Now remember, this is Sen. Orrin Hatch — conservative, Mormon, Utah ," Todd said before reading parts of Hatch's speech with a bell tone for every marijuana reference.
"So by our count, that's eight pot puns in six sentences, so put that in your pipe and smoke, just don't bogart it," Todd said,
Todd noted that Hatch has multiple co-sponsors on the bill, but "sadly" one of them is not Republican Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt. "Oh, but give it time," Todd said.
Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said the senator has a great sense of humor and the strategy to use it on what is a serious issue paid off.
"Thanks to his comments yesterday, Sen. Hatch was able to bring significant attention to his bill and advance a much-needed conversation on the potential benefits of medical marijuana," he said.
Whitlock said the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Many people thanked the senator via email, social media and phone calls for his comments and efforts to help people suffering with chronic medical conditions, he said.