Alaska reporter swears on air, then quits to support marijuana legalization

A reporter for an Alaska TV station secretly owned her own cannabis club and quit Sunday live on air in a show of support for marijuana legalization in the state.

Brennan Linsley/AP/File
Freshly packaged cannabis-infused peanut butter cookies are prepared inside Sweet Grass Kitchen, a well-established gourmet marijuana edibles bakery which sells its confections to retail outlets in Denver. Alaska is set to vote on legalizing marijuana this fall.

As job exits go, this was a dramatic one.

Charlo Greene, a reporter for local CBS affiliate KTVA in Anchorage, Alaska, reported a segment on Sunday night about the Alaska Cannabis Club, a medical marijuana group.

She then told viewers that she is in fact the owner of the cannabis club, and added that she "will be dedicating all of my energy toward fighting for freedom and fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska."

"As for this job," she added. "Well, not that I have a choice, but, [expletive], I quit."

A clearly surprised anchor apologized for Ms. Greene's use of profanity, and the station later sent a message to viewers via Twitter and its website, saying, "We sincerely apologize for the inappropriate language used by a KTVA reporter during her live presentation on the air tonight. The employee has been terminated."

Alaska is one of several states that has marijuana legalization on the ballot this November. Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia – all of which currently allow medical marijuana in certain instances – will vote on full legalization. Florida and the territory of Guam will vote on medical marijuana.

The most recent polls in those areas indicate the measures are likely to pass, though the Alaska initiative may be the closest. A Public Policy Polling survey found that 48 percent of Alaskan voters support legalization, 45 percent oppose it, and 7 percent are undecided.

Colorado and Washington were the first two states to fully legalize marijuana, via ballot referendum in 2012. In both states, legal recreational marijuana sales began this year, under somewhat different regulatory systems, and observers are carefully watching to gauge the experiment's success. Few major problems have arisen in either state, though the regulation of edible pot products, in particular, has become a source of controversy in Colorado.

Alaska was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana, via a 1998 ballot measure. But the legal status of the drug is murky, given the vague law and the fact that there is no provision for the legal sale of medical marijuana. (The law allows patients with a medical marijuana card to possess or grow small amounts for personal use, or to give away pot that they've grown to other cardholders.)

Ms. Greene's Alaska Cannabis Club, which she founded this spring, tries to get around that restriction by connecting patients to growers and suggesting patients provide a "donation" to cover the cost of growing the drug. An Alaska Dispatch News story in August profiled the club, and quoted its founder – presumably Greene – while granting her anonymity, citing "concern over potential repercussions from her employer."

Greene had reported about marijuana for KTVA before, without disclosing her relationship to the Alaska Cannabis Club. After her dramatic resignation from the station – and subsequent firing – Greene told the Dispatch News that she quit on air because "I wanted to draw attention to this issue. And the issue is medical marijuana."

"If I offended anyone, I apologize, but I’m not sorry for the choice that I made," she added.

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