ANCHORAGE, Alaska – 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.
Greene is the professional name used by Charlene Egbe. She told The Associated Press on Monday that she knew about a month ago that she would be leaving the way she did. No one else at the station knew anything about it, she said.
She doesn't believe the manner of her departure is harming her cause.
"Are we talking about it, or not, because of what I did. Period," she said. "It always goes back to the issue."
Greene said she always fact checked and was unbiased about the issue as a reporter.
"I'm passionate about doing my job, and at the time my job was being a journalist," Green, 26, said.
Messages left Monday morning with Rudman wasn't immediately returned.
Alaska business records indicate 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.
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.