Sen. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, shared a meme Monday afternoon from a parody group, but it appears the senator may not have been in on the joke.
Leach shared the photo along with a story by Politico on how legal marijuana is helping the black market, along with a stock photo of marijuana on some money.
The Facebook page where the photo came from is called “Marijuana MAKES You Violent” and hasn’t posted since late 2016.
The photo depicts a green cloud on a black background with two columns, one with the “benefits” and the other with the “risks” of smoking marijuana.
Under benefits, listed are several synonyms for “none” while the risks include deadly communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and leprosy.
The group from which the meme comes from says it strives to eradicate marijuana from the “entire planet” among other lofty goals.
In its last posting in Nov. 2016 explaining its absence from social media, the page thanked its followers for helping them eliminate all “marijuana from Earth back in April of this year, and so there is no longer any need for us to continue maintaining this page.”
The pages has never identified itself as a parody page. However, posts claiming “3 out of 5 pot-toking parents eat their children” or that the Flint, Mich., water crisis is caused by bong water show that it is clearly satire.
“It’s clearly a parody,” Mikel Weisser, executive director for the Arizona chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said of the photo. “If people were to look at this and believe it was true…..then they’d get this massive piece of misinformation.”
“It’s stuff like this is why they’re losing the public image battle, cause they can’t be taken seriously,” JP Holyoak, who campaigned for marijuana legalization in 2016, said of anti-marijuana advocates.
“Both sides need to stop,” Holyoak added, saying that he has seen similar postings by pro-marijuana groups that do a “disservice to the cannabis community.”
Weisser found the Facebook post entertaining, but also said Leach ”frequently puts out bills that target the marijuana community.”
In the past, Leach has sought to limit how marijuana is advertised and has attempted to regulate marijuana edibles. Leach has also proposed legislation that would have blocked parolees and probationers from receiving medical marijuana cards.