Most days the news I read is utterly depressing. Being a writer – especially in politics – you spend most of your time dealing with some of the uglier sides of society. And while I love what I do, I will admit that reading as much news as I read sometimes leaves you with the feeling that all hope is lost for humanity.
This story, however, isn’t one of those times. This is absolutely pathetic in a hilarious sort of way.
The moment Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana, most people had to know a domino effect was coming. Which is exactly what’s started to happen. More and more states are now looking into legalizing marijuana not just for medical purposes, but recreational as well.
Maryland happens to be one of those states.
Well, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop was called to testify against a bill to legalize and decriminalize marijuana. What followed was something that might as well be right out of The Onion – but it really happened.
Mr. Pristoop proceeded to cite a “story” about 37 people dying in Colorado on the first day marijuana was legalized due to “marijuana overdose.”
Which would be a shocking story – if it wasn’t a hoax.
While testifying, Pristoop said:
“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana. I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”
Senator Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery followed his comments by completely popping Pristoop’s bubble:
“Unless you have some other source for this, I’m afraid I’ve got to spoil the party here. Your assertion that 37 people died of a marijuana overdose in Colorado was a hoax on the DailyCurrant and the Comedy Central website.”
Pristoop then slightly backed off his comments. Though he didn’t completely abandon them:
“If it was a misquote, then I’ll stand behind the mistake. But I’m holding on to information I was provided.”
Now, did Pristoop read the original story? Who knows. It’s very likely that someone who works for him provided him with this information about the fake story. That still doesn’t excuse the absolute idiocy it takes to believe it.
I remember when I first ran across that headline about 37 people “dying” it sounded a bit far-fetched, so I researched it to find out exactly what was going on. That’s when I quickly found out that the entire story was a hoax – which took a total of one Google search and maybe 25 seconds out of my day.
That’s exactly what Pristoop should have done the moment he ran across this story or was given this information. To really believe 37 people died from “marijuana overdose” the first day it was legalized is laughably incompetent. If that were actually true, it would have been all over every major news outlet and other states sure as heck wouldn’t be pushing to legalize it in their states.
So it’s clear someone dropped the ball here. And while it could have been someone who works for Pristoop who gave him this “stat,” it still ultimately fell on his shoulders to make sure that the information he was going to use to testify against this bill was accurate.
And that’s something he didn’t do.
Which led to a pretty epic public humiliation for the Annapolis Police Chief. It just goes to show that many detractors of marijuana are so firm in their beliefs that nothing could possibly change their mind – and they’re not afraid to cling to the most outlandish and absurd arguments if they support those beliefs.