Photo: Marijuana billboard welcomes Barack Obama to Colorado
In Grand Junction circa mid July, advocates for Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, launched an electronic billboard message featuring televangelist Pat Robertson, who'd spoken positively about the measure. Robertson subsequently asked that the message be removed, so it's now been changed to feature an even more famous person: President Barack Obama, who speaks in Grand Junction later today. Here's a first look.
The slogan this time around goes beyond Amendment 64 to the question of whether the Obama administration is cracking down on the medical marijuana industry.
As noted by Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, U.S. Attorney John Walsh recently sent closure letters to ten dispensaries said to be within 1,000 feet of schools -- the third batch of such missives, which were initially sent out earlier this year and have already resulted in the shutdown of nearly fifty centers. In Smith's view, such actions violate the previous Obama administration policy of deferring to state law in states that have approved medical marijuana.
In a tightly contested swing state like Colorado, Obama will need every vote. So the billboard is a way to remind the President that there are tens of thousands of MMJ patients who can either vote for him, as most likely did in 2008, or turn against him if they think he's turned against them.
According to Smith, the new billboard was illuminated a short time ago and will remain in place for the next six days -- "although today," he says, "it should have the biggest impact."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Ten dispensaries targeted in third wave of U.S. Attorney closure letters."
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