Citing Joke, Annapolis Police Chief Testifies That Pot Killed 37 People on the First Day of Legalization in Colorado


Annapolis Police Department

Testifying against marijuana legalization before the Maryland legislature today, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop warned of the potentially lethal consequences. "The first day of legalization, that's when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana," Pristoop told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. "I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths."

As Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) quickly pointed out, what Pristoop actually remembered was a joke story at The Daily Currant headlined "Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado on First Day of Legalization." The article included a quote from "Peter Swindon, president and CEO of local brewer MolsonCoors," who supposedly said: "We told everyone this would happen. Marijuana is a deadly hardcore drug that causes addiction and destroys lives. When was the last time you heard of someone overdosing on beer? All these pro-marijuana groups should be ashamed of themselves. The victims' blood is on their hands."

Pristoop seemed taken aback that something he had seen in print might not be the literal truth. "If it was a misquote," he told Raskin, "then I'll stand behind the mistake. But I'm holding on to information I was provided."

Addendum: Waldemar Ingdahl reminds me that Sweden's justice minister, Beatrice Ask, fell for the same satire, although later she claimed she hadn't. At least Pristoop stands behind his mistake. 

Addendum II: Pristoop not only got his information about marijuana from The Daily Currant; he relied on the fictional brewer Peter Swindon for assurances about the hazards of alcohol. "No one's overdosing on beer," he told legislators.

[Thanks to Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority for the tip.]