Oops! Maryland Police Chief Cites Fake News Story While Testifying Against Pot Legalization

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Nicole Flatow 
RINF Alternative News

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.” He nonetheless stood by his position that  kids aren’t fully informed about how dangerous marijuana is, and it should therefore remain illegal.

Not only was The Daily Currant story a hoax; it is virtually impossible to overdose on marijuana (unless you consume 20,000 times as much THC as there is in a joint) and there are no known cases. That the police chief of Maryland’s capital city doesn’t know that “underscores why we should not be treating drug issues with a law enforcement approach,” said Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell.

The bills pending before the Maryland legislature  take two approaches to reducing marijuana penalties. One “light” bill – a decriminalization measure – makes possession of less than 10 grams a civil offense subject only to a citation and a fine. Another  legalization bill would create a tax and regulate system similar to those in Colorado and Washington.

 Nicole Flatow is the Deputy Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. Previously, she was Associate Director of Communications for the American Constitution Society. Nicole has also worked for several legal and general circulation newspapers, including The Daily Record and The New York Law Journal, and was a legal fellow at Bread for the City, where she represented low-income D.C. residents in housing and public benefits matters. She received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and her B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Law from Binghamton University, where she was editor in chief of her campus newspaper.
  • Hugh Johnson

    Perhaps he should hit the bong a few more times before he gives testimony.

  • T.T.

    How much $ did he get?

  • T.T.

    How much money did he get?

  • Rafael Espericueta

    All the anti-marijuana propaganda is equally fake. So his mistake was a natural one. What else could he site but lies and misinformation? Lies and misinformation are the only reasons there are any laws concerning marijuana at all.

  • Tanya

    Has anyone informed kids that if you build a four-foot pile of marijuana and then jump off it head first you really could hurt yourself? No? Then they have not been fully informed about all the dangers of marijuana.

  • desertspeaks

    fricking badge monkey spewing something he thought was fact! he has the duty to KNOW THE FACTS not regurgitate fairy tales!

  • hvypetals

    he’s just being a good boy. the fbi guys he buys his stash from probably threw in a few extra kilo’s this month.

    either that or they throw in something else right?

    • Padre

      Of course they’re panicking over “legalization” of marijuana, it supports future legislation to outlaw other plants. Like making GMOs the only “legal” food you can buy. Can’t happen here? Michigan is already attacking small farms over pigs and raw milk. In court an FDA inspector asserted that “there are no guarantees in the Constitution that you can eat whatever you want”, this is the mindset we’re facing; unless its specifically granted by the government it’s illegal. For enough money just about any of our so-called representatives would blow dead bears…, much less remove our Rights (while exempting themselves), just sayin…..

  • Lokis

    Thin edge of the wedge here – I see the consensus among the cognoscenti appears to conclude marijuana remains a killer drug and a gateway to crime. It seems time to rally round our Warrior President and start focusing on the demand side. Gaoling as many users as possible to teach them the price of freedom seems like a first start. Pissedoff has a valid points and he should be commended. We already have alcohol and tobacco – relatively benign and controlled substances do we need to go into the rabbit hole? I suspect all will agree – not!