A Yavapai County anti-legalization group that claims marijuana use lowers IQ seems to be in need of an IQ boost itself.
MATFORCE, a coalition of cops and business leaders led by County Attorney Sheila Polk, put up at least one billboard in the Phoenix area recently that contains an incorrect website address.
Social media has been buzzing for the past few days over a billboard near Interstate 17 and Indian School Road that promotes, due to an unfortunately placed question mark, an unrelated California foundation that helps kids with brain tumors.
The ad depicts a toddler holding a greenish cookie next to text that reads, "Would your child know if this cookie has pot in it?"
As a public service announcement, the basic message is hard to knock. True, even if the cookie does have marijuana in it, there are likely plenty of things around his home the little brat could sink his teeth into that would be far more dangerous, if not deadly. Because marijuana is often made into cookies and candy that kids may find irresistible, though, concern over the situation depicted in the ad is clearly warranted.
The problem, as you can see, comes below the main message with the promotional line "Marijuana Harmless? ThinkAgain.org."
MATFORCE registered the domain name marijuanaharmlessthinkagain.org last May and has been using it to host its anti-marijuana website.
ThinkAgain.org is the creation of Dr. Patricia Kerrigan, founder of Foundation Think Again!, a nonprofit organization that helps kids with cancer and brain tumors obtain rehabilitation services. Kerrigan's been receiving phone calls and messages from legalization supporters -- according to legalization supporters. She didn't return our message seeking comment.
Nobody at MATFORCE returned our call or e-mail, either. We wanted to know how many billboards with the incorrect domain name MATFORCE paid for, and if it plans on fixing or replacing them. Today, we saw a photo of a similar billboard that contained no domain name at all; maybe there are other versions.
On a related note, we found out today that MATFORCE pads its "partners" section to make it seem like it has the support of nearly everyone in Yavapai County. We thought it was odd that one of the group's steering committee members, amid a list of mostly government officials, was "Lu Stitt, Reporter, Larson Newspapers."
Stitt tells us today that she's retired from the newspaper industry and hasn't been on the MATFORCE steering committee for 10 years. She has no idea what the group is doing today, she says, and no one should think the listing means she's necessarily supportive of any of its opinions.
We also left a message for Pam Hood, publisher of verdenews.com, who's also listed as a steering-committee member, to find out what -- if anything -- she does for MATFORCE.
Through the Marijuana Harmless? campaign, MATFORCE is trying to push voters to reject the planned 2016 marijuana-legalization measure.
UPDATE: Dr. Kerrigan got back to us with this emailed reply:
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" I got many irrate callers - one woman wanted me to burn in hell for shoving pharmaceuticals down the throats of children. not kind. anyway - i do believe the billboards have been corrected however I dont know for sure as I do not live in phoenix. I also do not know how many billboards they had up with the thinkagain.org domain. it was quite disturbing. I asked the billboard company for a free billboard to support my charity - but they did not respond about that. I dont imagine they would. lol."
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