Utah governor hopeful says medical pot helps wife, others

Utah's Democratic candidate for governor, Mike Weinholtz hugs his wife Donna Weinholtz after she spoke at a news conference. Hours after his wife pleaded guilty to misdemeanor pot-possession charges connected with two pounds of the drug found at their house, Mike Weinholtz pushed for the legalization of medical marijuana. Salt Lake City, Utah, October 11, 2016 | Photo by Rick Bowmer / AP, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Hours after his wife pleaded guilty to misdemeanor pot-possession charges connected with two pounds of the drug found at their house, Utah’s Democratic candidate for governor pushed Tuesday for the legalization of medical marijuana.

Mike Weinholtz said during an emotional news conference that current laws leave doctors with little choice but to prescribe powerful painkillers with a risk of addiction that have made opioid drugs an epidemic in Utah and elsewhere. Pot reduced Donna Weinholtz’s pain so she could do things like ride bikes with her son and plant tulip bulbs, the couple said.

“What would you do if the person you love most in the world was faced with that decision?” he said. “Would you report them to the police? Would you insist they stop and live with pain too severe to sleep at night?

Donna Weinholtz, 61, said marijuana was the best way for her to treat arthritis and degenerative spinal conditions that left her unable to get out of bed, sometimes for weeks.

“I, like many Utahns, made a deliberate and conscious decision to use cannabis knowing full well that it is against the law,” she said. “I have faith the law will change.”

Conservative Utah has a very limited medical cannabis law allowing those with severe epilepsy to use cannabis extract oil that doesn’t contain psychoactive properties.

Two proposals to expand access to medical pot died in the state legislature this year. A Utah legislative committee is expected to discuss the issue tomorrow.

Mike Weinholtz first revealed the investigation into his wife during his party’s convention in April, shortly after the probe began when postal workers found a small amount of pot she tried to mail to a home the couple owns in California.

The plea deal Donna Weinholtz struck with prosecutors Tuesday calls for a fine and probation rather than jail time.

She pleaded guilty to two counts, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. She agreed to serve one year of probation and pay a $3,800 fine. The deal, known as a plea in abeyance, also calls for her record to be cleared if she stays out of trouble for the next year.

Her lawyer, Walter Bugden, said it’s a standard agreement for a first-time offender.

Tooele County Chief Deputy Attorney Gary Searle has said it appears she had the drug for personal use, and there’s no evidence her husband was aware of it. His office got the case after federal prosecutors declined to file charges and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office bowed out for political reasons.

Donna Weinholtz had faced up to six months in jail if convicted.

She was also one of 13 people arrested in 2014 as part of a protest over the Republican-dominated Legislature’s refusal to hold a hearing on an anti-discrimination law that included sexual and gender orientation protections. It passed the following year.

In that case, she got probation and paid a $100 fine after she and other protesters blocked the doors to a committee meeting room.

Mike Weinholtz is a wealthy businessman facing an uphill battle this year to try to unseat Republican Gov. Gary Herbert in an overwhelmingly GOP state.

Herbert campaign manager Marty Carpenter declined to comment Tuesday.

Written by: LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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18 Comments

  • ladybugavenger October 19, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Gays can get married so there is hope for legalized marijuana. Legalize marijuana for all uses

    • ladybugavenger October 19, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      I didn’t mean to offend anyone. It’s lgbtqrstuvwxyz

      • .... October 19, 2016 at 5:53 pm

        No problem Ladybug. if someone got offended we can hold a fundraiser for them

    • .... October 19, 2016 at 5:51 pm

      I’m sure it could help out RealLowlife and his anger issues. and it might help Bob come up with more of his conspiracy theories. LOL !

      • Real Life October 20, 2016 at 6:18 am

        Maybe you will get lucky and they will try to legalize smoking pills.

        • .... October 21, 2016 at 12:44 am

          Well then in that case maybe there is hope for your anger issues. ..smoke’em if ya got em !

  • RealMcCoy October 19, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    “charges connected with two pounds of the drug found at their house”…

    TWO POUNDS??? In a substance that is sold and distributed in grams and ounces?!

    Sorry, but that quantity falls under a ‘distibutable amount’, and she should be thrown in prison for 10-12 years. Current laws and punishments dictate that as the appropriate punishment, not ‘to serve one year of probation and pay a $3,800 fine’.

    As for Mike’s response- ““What would you do if the person you love most in the world was faced with that decision? Would you report them to the police? Would you insist they stop and live with pain too severe to sleep at night?”

    MOVE TO A STATE THAT HAS LEGALIZED IT!

    Seriously, this is a joke and a farce.

    I honestly don’t care if someone wants to smoke weed or not. I don’t care if it gets legalized or not.

    I DO care if someone is running for election and has a spouse that flagrantly decides to break the laws. Two recent democrat politicians, both with criminal spouses, and both making excuses for their criminal acts.
    Seems to be a running theme with the democrats, between Dorothy Engelman and now Mike Weinholtz.

    • ladybugavenger October 19, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      2 lbs is a bit much. I don’t think I ever smoked 2 lbs in in the early 90’s LOL. they should have moved to Colorado

      • Bob October 19, 2016 at 10:14 pm

        lol, i forgot who real mccoy was and had to look it up on youtube “Real McCoy – Another Night” ahahah, good music

        • Bob October 19, 2016 at 10:20 pm

          Dump, here’s one just for u, lol “Real McCoy – Runaway”

          • .... October 20, 2016 at 4:11 am

            Better get some rest DumBob you just had a thought you must me exhausted

  • Peg October 19, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Well, RealMcoy (an oxymoron in itself). Do a little research as to the benefits of medical marijuana, especial true scientific evidence from studies performed in major research medical facilities or within specific physician specialists.
    Yes, there need to be control by state governments to make sure laws are followed..but that said, Utah is living in the days of
    “blood-letting” as a beneficial medical procedure (as well as the backward alcohol laws). But I imagine in time enlightenment
    may one day arrive…when perhaps politicians or the “powers to be” have to face this dilemma.
    And you want to call out only Democrat politicians for illegal activities…seems a couple of AG’s got their hands a bit dirty..and that’s probably the tip of the iceberg. Hence, your objections seem to be party affiliation disgruntlements in actually. Until all facts are known, it’s sure easy to throw around accusations.

    • RealMcCoy October 20, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Well Peg, if you look back, I did not refute the benefits of medical marijuana. I stated a few facts:

      Anywhere else in the USA (including Utah) and ‘2 pounds’ is considered a distributable amount, with heavy HEAVY penalties and jail time. Her insanely small penalty is a farce. Look up people busted with the same ‘2 pounds’ amount, not to mention it is a FELONY to use the US Postal Service for this illegal activity. If she were non-mormon or black, she’d be serving prison time right now.

      I agree that the alcohol laws are backward, but that was not the issue at hand.
      I called out democrats that are RUNNING for election, not the politicians already in power. If they’re dirty BEFORE they even get elected, imagine their slide to the dark side AFTER they get elected.
      I have no party affiliation; I vote on merit.

      Stick to the facts, ma’am.

  • mesaman October 19, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    There is a serious flaw in the objectivity of any empirical study of the effects of marijuana. I wouldn’t expect the husband to take any other stand than to excuse and justify his pot using spouse. But that doesn’t make it healthy, doesn’t guarantee an ameliorative cure, and doesn’t justify legalization . The Barnum effect is so prominent in unscientific discovery that it has resulted in hundreds of bogus and fraudulent cures over the ages. Marijuana may very well be a curative drug but don’t take the untrained approach to prove it’s worth. Ask your legislature to allow scientific investigation of it’s value or lack, thereof. As it stands, I fall in line with Real McCoy’s comments.

  • .... October 20, 2016 at 4:20 am

    You don’t need Marijuana 2 live in Dumbob’s pink colored sky world. he should be working for the National Enquirer with all his knowledge of conspiracy theories.

    • Real Life October 20, 2016 at 10:13 am

      At least he would have a job, and not just be a leach sucking off the government to pay for pills and the internet.

      • .... October 21, 2016 at 9:05 am

        Have a nice day and hopefully you can get professional help. and now I’m going to go sit in my free paid for by your tax dollars jacuzzi and then go have shrimp and lobster brunch in my free 3 bedroom condo paid for by your tax dollars. Thank you. ..God bless you Low Life

  • Ron October 20, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Come on you guys, quit bogarting that “fatty” and pass it around. Dang man…hand me that bong!!

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