ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A television reporter revealed during a live on-air segment that she owns a medical marijuana business and was quitting her job to advocate for the drug ahead of a November ballot initiative to legalize the recreational use of pot in Alaska.
After reporting on the Alaska Cannabis Club on Sunday night's broadcast, KTVA's Charlo Greene identified herself as the business's owner.
"Everything you've heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all my energy toward fighting for freedom and for fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska," she said. She then used an expletive to quit her job and walked off-camera.
In a statement on KTVA's website, news director Bert Rudman apologized for Greene's "inappropriate language" and said she was terminated.
Messages left Monday morning with Rudman and for Greene at the Alaska Cannabis Club weren't immediately returned.
Alaska business records indicate Charlene Egbe registered the business name on April 20, or 4-20. The number "420" has long been associated with marijuana, though its origins as shorthand for pot are unclear. KTUU reported Greene was Egbe's professional name.
Alaska voters will decide in the general election whether to join Washington and Colorado in decriminalizing pot.
Taylor Bickford, a spokesman for a group backing the measure, said he hopes voters look beyond Greene's salty language.
"I hope that her language, which clearly was not appropriate for television, doesn't distract from the importance of her message," said Bickford, with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
After voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1998, the state of Alaska never set up dispensaries, forcing people to criminalize themselves to access pot, he said.
Passage of the initiative "would allow them to access the medicine they need," Bickford said.
A spokeswoman for the opposition group Big Marijuana Big Mistake said it has twice complained to KTVA management about what it claimed was Greene's biased coverage of the ballot initiative.
"While we are frustrated with these actions, we are further disappointed by this distraction from what needs to be a full and honest debate about a dangerous initiative that will hurt Alaska's communities and kids," Kristina Woolston said in a statement.
Information from: KTVA-TV, http://www.ktva.com