Last week, we told you about a Grand Junction billboard in support of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, featuring televangelist Pat Robertson, who'd made public statements in support of the measure. Nonetheless, one of Robertson's reps asked that the billboard come down -- and it has.
Here's a look at the full image:
As we reported in March, Robertson more or less endorsed Amendment 64 in an interview with the New York Times. "I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol," he said, adding, "If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?"
Additionally, Robertson informed the Times that he "absolutely" supports the Colorado ballot measure, as well as a similar one in Washington state.
Robertson noted that he would not campaign for the initiatives, saying, presumably with a straight face, "I'm not a crusader." But based on his published statements, the Amendment 64 campaign went forward with the billboard anyhow.
Then, last Thursday, act proponent Mason Tvert says he was contacted via e-mail by a Robertson representative, who "suggested that [Robertson] did not specifically endorse this initiative" and hadn't actually read its featured language.
In a reply, Tvert wrote that he would gladly provide a copy of Amendment 64 -- an offer Robertson's rep has not yet accepted -- even as he defended the billboard. "We didn't convey anything other than what he said in the nation's largest newspaper," Tvert maintains. "He's a public figure and it was a public statement."
Even so, Tvert continues, "we never meant to disrespect Mr. Robertson -- so we were happy to take the billboard down at his request."
Doing so was simple, since the billboard in question is electronic. Right now, Tvert says no message is being shared on it, but members of the campaign hope to decide what to use as a replacement in the coming days.
It's possible the replacement message could duplicate the images that appeared in Denver on a billboard near Mile High Stadium -- the first featuring a soccer-mom type woman revealing her preference for cannabis and the second spotlighting a father saying, "Please card my son" -- the implication being that regulation will do a better job of keeping kids away from pot than will prohibition. But Tvert says the campaign could also come up with something new, designed especially for voters on Colorado's Western Slope.
Roger Sherman, campaign director for Smart Colorado, the leading No on 64 organization, seized on the billboard switcheroo in an e-mail statement to Westword. "This clearly calls into question the honesty of the pro-legalization campaign," he writes. "If they can't be trusted to get Mr. Robertson's words right, what other facts are they playing fast and loose with?"
In contrast, Tvert shrugs off the situation. "I don't even see it as a bump in the road," he allows. "Things are going great. We've got volunteers throughout the state having a presence at public events and canvassing door to door, and we've built a strong list of endorsements that continues to grow."
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As of right now, though, Robertson's name is not on it.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Pat Robertson 'endorses' Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, Amendment 64."