Marijuana foe wants pot billboards in Arizona taken down

A Yavapai County attorney has written letter to Attorney General Mark Bernovich that the claims on marijuana billboards are blatantly false and should be removed, stating the billboards violate consumer fraud law.

The battle over legalizing marijuana in Arizona is heating up again.

A leading opponent is calling on the state's and the country's top law enforcement officers to take down several billboards in the Valley. 

The Valley billboards promote Weedmaps, a kind of Yelp! of the pot business.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, who led last year's campaign that blocked the legalization of marijuana in Arizona, wrote a letter to three top prosecutors: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions; Arizona's acting U.S. attorney; and state AG Mark Brnovich.

"The claims on the billboards are blatantly false," Polk wrote. She urged the prosecutors to take steps to "immediately remove the billboards."

Polk claimed the billboards violate Arizona's consumer fraud law.

"The Yavapai County Attorney's Office is against marijuana. They were against the legalization of marijuana, so they're going to use the statistics and studies that back up their position," said Russ Richelsoph, an attorney at Davis Miles in Tempe. "What it's going to come down to is, 'Is the information on this billboard untrue?"

12 News reviewed the government sources for the Weedmaps billboard's claims about youth marijuana use:

"Since legalizing marijuana in 2012, Colorado has had no increase in youth marijuana use. Neither has Washington."

The billboard cites government reports in Colorado and Washington state.

12 News reviewed those reports.

The Colorado report cited on the billboard surveyed high school students through 2015. 

The Washington state report  surveyed students through 2016.

The billboard correctly presents the reports' findings.

In an interview, Polk noted a recent law enforcement report that showed Colorado was the top state for marijuana use among teenagers and adults. 

The survey cited shows average marijuana use among 12 to 17-year-olds in Colorado rose from 10.5 percent in 2011-'12, to 11.1 percent in 2014-'15.

A spokesman for Attorney General Brnovich said Polk's complaint is still being evaluated. A response is expected within two weeks.

Polk said she had not received any response to her letter from the U.S. Justice Department.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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