PORTLAND – A controversial new billboard unveiled in downtown Portland Thursday was nearly gone just hours later, and the group behind the billboard believes that it was intentionally cut or vandalized.
The billboard (shown above) featured a photo of a glass of beer, a glass of wine, and a marijuana leaf. And below each photo, the words read: “Beer," "Wine," and "Safer," respectively. It was located at Southwest 13th Avenue and Southwest Alder Street.
As reporters stood near the billboard on Thursday, preparing to report on it during newscasts, someone noticed the sign was was no longer standing up.
Roy Kaufmann, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, which put up the sign, said he was told that those kind of signs "don't blow down."
Kaufmann said a representative from the company they got the sign from told him that when a sign hangs from the top like that, it has typically been cut or vandalized.
Portland police told Newschannel 8 that no one had yet filed a vandalism complaint. There was no word yet on when the sign will be replaced.
Earlier, the Marijuana Policy Project said it wants to encourage people “to think about how marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol to consumers and the community,” according to Kaufmann.
The group also wants to get a measure on the 2016 ballot legalizing recreational marijuana in Oregon. Both Colorado and Washington passed similar bills last year.
Back in 1973, Oregon became the first state to pass a decriminalization law under then-state legislator Earl Blumenauer. Now a congressman, he said these days there needs to be a national discussion on marijuana use and regulations for the drug should be updated.
“I think it's research in medical marijuana, it's more reasonable regulation, it's taxing something that right now isn't taxed,” he clarified. “All of this points to something that's going to be more productive.”
Kaufmann noted that the timing of the billboard was intentionally chosen to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Month, in April, and the many upcoming beer and wine festivals.
"Our goal is to make this year's beer and wine festivals as educational as they are enjoyable," Kaufmann said. "We simply want attendees who are drinking to think about the fact that marijuana is objectively less harmful than the pint of beer or glass of wine they have in their hands."
The Marijuana Policy Project contends that pot is less toxic and less addictive than alcohol. Members hope the billboard will bring attention to their message.
“We hope that festival-goers who support keeping marijuana illegal will ask themselves why they think adults should be punished for using a substance that is safer than the ones they are celebrating."