A Yavapai County-based anti-substance-abuse coalition fighting marijuana legalization has decided to be more honest about who supports it.
Following our blog post last week that mentioned MATFORCE's screwed-up billboard and outdated "About Us" page, the group removed the names of most of its alleged supporters.
MATFORCE began years ago with an anti-meth bent, and we'll commend the work it does to inform people about the mortal dangers of abusing hard drugs and misusing prescription medicines.
Led by anti-pot crusader Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney, and prohibitionist Merilee Fower, though, MATFORCE has wafted into politics with its "Reefer Madness"-style push to stop a 2016 legalization effort in Arizona.
It seems the group's current incarnation doesn't have the same draw for some Yavapai County residents who lent their names to various MATFORCE committees.
When we contacted a Prescott-area reporter, Lu Stitt, whose name was listed as a MATFORCE "partner," she told us she hadn't done anything with the group for 10 years and that she didn't necessarily support its members' opinions.
Today, we received a call back from another name on the list, Pam Miller (formerly Pam Hood), the publisher of verdenews.com.
"I am not affiliated with MATFORCE in any way," she told New Times.
We left a message for MATFORCE to ask about that and the billboard problem, but haven't heard back yet.
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We did, however, receive word from Dr. Patricia Kerrigan, founder of the Think Again! Foundation, which helps kids recover from cancer. As our blog post related last week, at least one billboard put up by MATFORCE in the Phoenix area flubbed its message, promoting Kerrigan's site instead of its own.
MATFORCE's anti-legalization campaign is called "Marijuana Harmless? Think Again," and has a registered domain name of marijuanaharmlessthinkagain.org. The billboard near Interstate 17 and Indian School Road reads, "Marijuana Harmless? ThinkAgain.org"
We're still not sure how many of these erroneous billboards MATFORCE put up.
Although the basic message of the billboard highlights the problem of kids eating marijuana-laced cookies or candy, some cannabis activists were outraged by its obvious political connotation. Advocates railed on social media about how MATFORCE was apparently using the image of a innocent toddler in supposed danger to prop up its prohibitionist stance.
Kerrigan found out that not all cannabis lovers are mellow.
"I got many irrate callers," she says. "One woman wanted me to burn in hell for shoving pharmaceuticals down the throats of children."
The California resident isn't sure if the billboard or billboards have been corrected, or how many went up.
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"It was quite disturbing. I asked the billboard company for a free billboard to support my charity - but they did not respond about that," Kerrigan says.
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