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Feb 28 2014

Reefer Madness in Maryland

The state legislature in Maryland is considering a couple bills that would either decriminalize or legalize marijuana in that state. The police chief of Annapolis went to testify against those bills and offered up a fake story from a satire site in his testimony:

Testifying against bills that would legalize or decriminalize marijuana, the police chief for Annapolis, Md., cited a fake news story that reported 37 people died on the first day Colorado’s recreational marijuana law went into effect.

“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop said Tuesday at a committee hearing, according to the Capital Gazette. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”

Maryland Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) immediately corrected Pristoop and pointed out that he seemed to be citing a fake story by the satirical news site, The Daily Currant, the Gazette reported.

“Unless you have some other source for this, I’m afraid I’ve got to spoil the party here,” Raskin said.
But Pristoop wasn’t ready to back down, saying, “If it was a misquote, then I’ll stand behind the mistake. But I’m holding on to information I was provided.”

He later conceded to the Gazette that he had made a mistake, saying, “I’m guilty of being a human being. I tried really hard to present verified facts.”

Tried really hard? Really? What specifically did you do? Because you could have figured out this was a satire with about 15 seconds on Google. We must have very different definitions of “trying really hard.”

26 comments

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  1. 1
    Tabby Lavalamp

    I think what he means by “verified” is “caters to my preconceived notions.”

  2. 2
    Jordan Genso

    And now that he realizes that his reasoning was based on satire, he’s modified his position on this issue, right?

  3. 3
    busterggi

    I expect I could Google a site that claims hot young women want fat old guys for sex but …

    (not butt sex)

  4. 4
    cry4turtles

    Maybe if he wished really really hard, and tapped his heels together three times, his dumbass story would come true. She laugh-coughs.

  5. 5
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I think the update to the story is more idiotic. We’ve all been fooled by crap on the internet but what he said after is worse.

    “I think that no one’s overdosing on beer,” he said, attempting to dismiss comparisons to success at the end of Prohibition. “But marijuana they’re seeing a significant problem with overdosing,”

    That’s a claim you don’t even have to go to Google to know is a blatant lie. No one, not a single person, has died from alcohol poisoning? Really?

  6. 6
    DBP

    I wonder if The Onoin or the Daily Currant ever shape their stories to specifically trick stupid politicians/officials or of if they’re stupid enough to fall for anything

  7. 7
    notyet

    I realize that pot is considerably stronger than it used to be, but a quick Google search shows that one would need to smoke 1500 pounds in 15 minutes to actually die. Have any of you ever heard of anyone dying from an overdose by smoking MJ? Do these people not have internet connections, or do they just not care whether what they say bears any similarity to truth?………….I just reread my last sentence. Consider it rhetorical.

  8. 8
    NitricAcid

    I’m sure that if he had read the original Daily Currant article, he might have figured out that it was satire. But he probably read someone quoting part of it on Facebook, and declared that sufficiently well-researched.

  9. 9
    marcus

    Here in Colorado, I am going to the store today and going to make my first legal purchase of marijuana, ever. (And maybe some jellybeans.) Suck it Pristoop!

  10. 10
    Blondin

    DBP, I sometimes wonder the same thing. There definitely are some stories that seem to have no other point except to see how many people will be dumb enough to take them seriously (eg: the Daily Currant story about the Olympic ring designer’s demise).

    Sometimes a hoax story can be satirical but sometimes a hoax is just a hoax. I had to cringe when I heard people repeating the hoax story that Sarah Palin had said that if English was good enough for Jesus it was good enough for her. Then, when others pointed out that the article was ‘satirical’, people responded with, “Well, it’s the kind of thing she would say!” As far as I’m concerned this is just as dumb as Bill O’Reilly doubling down instead of admitting when he’s made a mistake.

    I’m certainly not defending the police chief in the story but I just think there are some so-called satirical sites that just aren’t funny. You could publish a cartoon putting various stupid statements in somebody’s mouth and most people would understand that it was a satirical exaggeration that illustrates something or makes a point in a humorous way. Reporting bullshit in a semi-serious news format just seems like a setup to see how many people will fall for it.

  11. 11
    Modusoperandi

    His story is fake, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. It’s an epidemic. I know literally hundreds of people who’ve died from “legal” marihuana. I can get them to comment here if you don’t believe me.

  12. 12
    DaveL

    . I tried really hard to present verified facts.

    Try harder.

  13. 13
    anubisprime

    Probably off his face with confiscated evidence and decided to surf cyberland looking for unicorns with cute eyes!

  14. 14
    greg1466

    But he didn’t get to finish his thought! What he was saying was “I tried really hard to present verified facts, but I couldn’t find any so I presented fake facts instead.”

  15. 15
    escuerd

    I think that no one’s overdosing on beer,” he said, attempting to dismiss comparisons to success at the end of Prohibition. “But marijuana they’re seeing a significant problem with overdosing.

    I want whatever he’s smoking.

    This sounds almost like a satire about a guy who doesn’t get satire.

  16. 16
    leonardschneider

    @ Modus (#11): So… Does that mean as long as it’s illegal, it can’t hurt anyone? Thank God for that; I’d have croaked off by the time I was nineteen if it had been legal in the 1980s in California.

    I’ve known people who’ve sorta smoothed their brains down some, but they started the process at least four or five decades ago. Plus factor in mescaline, LSD, STP, MDA, quaaludes, psilocybin mushrooms, and a fair amount of speed and cocaine, well… Yeah, you’re not gonna be as quite on the ball as you might’ve been. In fact, with the aging hippies I have in mind, marihuana* is probably the least of their contributing problems.

    I wish this cop was in Texas. I’d send him a DVD of Manos: The Hands Of Fate and tell him I’d found proof of satanic cult activity in the El Paso area. I’m sure he’d be right on the ball.

    * So how come Modusoperandi and me are the only ones who spell it right?

  17. 17
    JJ831

    @Notyet
    I’ve always been of the theory the stronger/better weed of today is actually a good thing. I can get the same buzz, smoking a whole lot less (like, 1/10). That’s less organic material, tar and carbon monoxide for the same affect. Add to that it’d be net to impossible to reach lethal levels – you’d be too stoned to continue (passed out).

    The only thing, and I think the above still stands, is that concentrates (hash) are getting much more potent. In particular, the new fad of “dabs” is the way to get a huge amount of cannibinoids in. But again, a dab or two, and you’re couched for a long while.

  18. 18
    Modusoperandi

    leonardschneider “@ Modus (#11): So… Does that mean as long as it’s illegal, it can’t hurt anyone?”
    No. If it’s illegal only itinerant farmhands (*wink wink*), “urban” people (*wink wink*) and other members of the criminal class get hurt (which, in a Just World, is precisely as it should be).
    We have to keep marihuana illegal, because like Universal Suffrage, miscegenation and gayhomo mansex, as long as it’s illegal, Moral Americans won’t be tempted to try it.

  19. 19
    Michael Heath

    escuerd writes:

    This sounds almost like a satire about a guy who doesn’t get satire.

    I wonder if Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop got this information from a conservative viral email, with a link to the story. That the email presented it as if it were true.

    I think we all vastly under-estimate the degree to which conservative Christians and other populist conservatives are misinformed comes from viral emails. And that we over-estimate the influence Fox News and AM radio has relative to these types of emails. Fox News probably serves more as a quasi-validation source.

    Older close-minded people simply have no capability to scrutinize this form for communication when it comes from a fellow tribal member and contains effective dog whistles to get them into a submissive frame of mind. I have yet to encounter one, not one, conservative viral email that was true. Every single one required a set of false premises to make their case. Every. single. one.

  20. 20
    Trickster Goddess

    If you smoked 1500 lbs of MJ in 15 minutes, you would be dead of asphyxiation long before the THC got to you.

    Also the argument regarding strength is specious. I haven’t seen anyone arguing that vodka and whiskey should be banned since they are so much stronger than beer.

  21. 21
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I realize that pot is considerably stronger than it used to be, but a quick Google search shows that one would need to smoke 1500 pounds in 15 minutes to actually die.

    Um, that’d kill you from asphyxiation or “enthalpy poisoning” long before the THC got to be an issue.

  22. 22
    Moggie

    Don’t you feel safer knowing that a police chief doesn’t know (or care) the difference between good and bad evidence?

  23. 23
    Al Dente

    JJ831 @17

    I’ve always been of the theory the stronger/better weed of today is actually a good thing. I can get the same buzz, smoking a whole lot less (like, 1/10). That’s less organic material, tar and carbon monoxide for the same affect.

    I’m reminded of an old Cheech & Chong bit:

    “No stems, no seeds that you don’t need,
    Acapulco Gold is badass weed.”

  24. 24
    Marcus Ranum

    If you smoked 1500 lbs of MJ in 15 minutes, you would be dead of asphyxiation long before the THC got to you.

    But you’d be a LEGEND!
    Move over Paul Bunyan, Max Stokes the man who smoked 3/4ton of weed in one bong hit, they named the superbowl after him!

  25. 25
    Pierce R. Butler

    See y’all later – I’m moving to Annapolis to begin a massive crime spree, cuz the local cops don’t even know what a clue looks like.

    You may or may not even hear about my tsunami of felonies, depending on whether the Annapolis fuzz can detect how much of their town has gone missing.

  26. 26
    democommie

    “Reporting bullshit in a semi-serious news format just seems like a setup to see how many people will fall for it.”

    For “The Onion” (I don’t know about the “Daily Currant”) is feature, not bug.

    What the teabaggist fuckhead on the next barstool believes, on any given subject, is annoying to have to listen to. What a police chief, other public official or elected pol believes (and attempts to codify in law) is WAY more than annoying.

    The guy’s a fucking simpleton and should be fired.

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