Annapolis, Md. Police Chief Michael Pristoop cited a satirical article in state senate testimony Tuesday that claimed 37 people had died of marijuana overdoses on the first day Colorado legalized the drug for recreational use, Washington Post reports.
“Unless you have some other source for this, I’m afraid I’ve got to spoil the party here,” Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) said, according to Capital Gazette. “Your assertion that 37 people died of a marijuana overdose in Colorado was a hoax on the DailyCurrant and the Comedy Central website.”
Indeed, the chief was talking of an article on the Daily Currant website on Jan. 2, titled “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization.” The article went on to note that the death toll “could go as high as 200, maybe 300.”
“When he said it, everyone in the room dropped their laptops,” Raskin told The Post.
The chief quickly realised his error, and later apologized after “conducting additional research,” according to the police department’s Facebook page:
“I apologise for the information I provided concerning the deaths. I believed the information I obtained was accurate but I now know the story is nothing more than an urban legend,” Chief Michael Pristoop said in the statement. “This does not take away from the other facts presented in opposition to legalization or the good work of the Maryland Chiefs and Maryland Sheriffs Associations.”
For the record, even the National Institute on Drug Abuse says an overdose death from marijuana is “not very likely.”
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