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Police Chief Testifies Against Legalizing Marijuana With Parody Newspaper Article

from the weeding-out-the-jokes dept

They say that really well done parody is close enough to the truth to be funny. That’s certainly correct, but it can occasionally create some problems, as we’ve seen in the past. Parody can anger the target of the scorn, it can lead to charges of defamation, and parody news stories can occasionally infect even the, ahem, most fair and balanced cable news stations. I guess the point is that not everyone has enough of a sense of humor to find some parody funny, or even to realize that it is indeed parody.

The latter is the case with this story about Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop, who had diligently prepared before testifying before a state panel on the potential for legalizing marijuana.

In researching his testimony against two bills before the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Pristoop said, he had found a news article to illustrate the risks of legalization: 37 people in Colorado, he said, had died of marijuana oversdoses on the very day that the state legalized pot.

“When he said it, everyone in the room dropped their laptops,” Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) said in an e-mail.

Proving, of course, that stupid can in fact cause physical harm and property destruction. See, the problem is that Pristoop’s source for his marijuana massacre was The Daily Currant, which is a comedic parody magazine. The article and its claims were a joke. So, it appears, were Pristoop’s efforts at vetting the sources he found on the always treacherous interwebz. Similar grades should be assigned to Pristoop’s abilities at admitting error.

“I apologize 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,” Pristoop said. “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.”

An urban legend is a fictional story circulated through a community that might be a tad unsure of whether it is indeed fiction. Ghost stories, in other words, or the threat of high school seniors hazing incoming freshman. Those are urban legends. The Daily Currant’s article was a joke made up whole cloth for the purposes of making people laugh. Anyone with a modicum of interest and education into the health risks associated with marijuana use would know that immediate death simply isn’t one of them.

Fortunately, others in the police departments of Maryland have a better handle on this whole humor thing, as evidenced by Maj. Scott Baker.

“His numbers are up in smoke,” Baker acknowledged Wednesday — a sly tip of the hat to Cheech & Chong’s 1978 stoner movie.

Funny, I was going to make a comment about how Pristoop’s facts were half-baked…

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Comments on “Police Chief Testifies Against Legalizing Marijuana With Parody Newspaper Article”

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42 Comments
Thorsten Roggendorf (user link) says:

Two supposed deaths in Germany

Two coroners in Germany recently diagnosed two deaths that were caused by THC. The German yellow press immediately took that up. Here is a much more critical article on it from a highly esteemed German paper:
http://www.zeit.de/wissen/gesundheit/2014-02/cannabis-kiffen-tod-marihuana-rechtsmedizin

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Two supposed deaths in Germany

The really funny thing is using the argument of ‘Look, smoking weed can kill people!’ to try and fight against legalization of it.

You know what does kill people who use them? Cigarettes, which kill absolutely insane numbers of people on a yearly basis, yet are completely legal because it’s held that if someone wants to smoke, and off themselves in that manner, that’s their choice(a position on freedom of choice I agree with, while at the same time finding the habit incredibly stupid).

Thorsten Roggendorf (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Two supposed deaths in Germany

Alcohol as well. The quoted coroners looked over all autopsies in one hospital over a 11 year period and found 2 cases where they could not definitely exclude THC as a possible cause. Tobacco and alcohol killed millions (no exaggeration) in Germany alone over that period. Millions. In Germany.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Two supposed deaths in Germany

You need to get your sanity straight. People killing themselves and not someone else by their smoking habits is no way to justify a drug that has killed far more people indirectly through people being high while driving and the war being waged over it.

While I am okay with legalization, I am not so stupid as to draw a comparison between standard tobacco and a mind altering drug the way you did!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Two supposed deaths in Germany

“to justify a drug that has killed far more people indirectly through people being high while driving”

High people driving has killed more than tobacco smoking? Citation, please.

A number of studies have been done over the past few years, and they all indicate that — at worst — driving while high is marginally dangerous. Often, high people drive better. They tend to be more cautious and don’t assume others will follow the rules of the road.

Note: I am not recommending driving while intoxicated at all.

Some Other AC (profile) says:

Re: Two supposed deaths in Germany

Thorsten, did you actually read the article you linked? Me thinks not. Some quoted parts(translated):
Headline
“smoking weed is not a cause of death”
“Forensic pathologist from Dusseldorf suspect a connection. However, the can not be proved”

“For Tsokos is clear: “This is about coincidence, not causality.”

“So far was the theory of cannabis does not die one,” says Benno Hartung. The forensic pathologist at the University Hospital in Dusseldorf has investigated the deaths of the two men, and the results documented in the magazine Forensic Science International published (Hartung, 2014) . “We’re talking about individual cases of very rare events,” he says.

Maybe read the article before spewing ignorance. Smoking marijuana may kill you, but it will be due to lung damage(same as smoking) or being dumb enough to drive or operate potentially dangerous machinery while under the influence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Two supposed deaths in Germany

It’s impossible to die from THC. Where it affects the brain has no centers that control any sort of life function. You also need to re-read the article as it’s clearly stated multiple times that the only thing that they know is that both men had shared a joint.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Could have been worse...

He could have quoted The Onion, now that would have been comedy gold.

As for this line… ‘This does not take away from the other facts presented in opposition to legalization’.

Perhaps not, but it does certainly bring the validity of them into question, if that is any indication of how much work he’s willing to go through in making sure his ‘facts’ aren’t ‘flat out fiction’ when making his arguments.

PaulT (profile) says:

“I believed the information I obtained was accurate”

Erm, that’s the problem. Instead of looking at real sources and information to support your case, you basically did a Google search and presented whatever came up that fit your chosen narrative. Whether an “urban legend”, parody or just typical tabloid reporting devoid of fact, the problem is you, not the article. Next time, use real verifiable studies and primary sources.

“This does not take away from the other facts presented”

Yes, sir, it does. You didn’t even bother to check the source of the data you presented (from the site’s about page – “The Daily Currant is an English language online satirical newspaper”), nor did you recognise that the information therein was clearly false. Why should anyone believe that any of the other data you presented has been vetted in the slightest?

Oh, and I’ll just add for the inevitable comments about how this doesn’t matter because it’s about drugs or whatever – the basic problem here (police chief testifies in court with false information he didn’t even fact check) is valid no matter the subject.

David says:

Don't downplay the risks

37 people in Colorado, he said, had died of marijuana oversdoses on the very day that the state legalized pot.

If we are talking about law-abiding citizens with similar information sources as law officers, then indeed the legalization of pot could have caused the death of a number of people injecting themselves with dissolved hashish.

David says:

Re: We need to ban Dihydrogen Monoxide

The lethal dosage of nutmeg nuts is actually surprisingly low. Safran is scarier but less affordable.

A mouthful of yew foliage will kill a grown horse, but then neither horse nor yew branches are likely in your kitchen.

Actually, the majority of deaths in “civilized” countries bears some relation to habit-forming ingestion of food of unhealthy kind, combination, and/or amount.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: due diligence

“Due diligence” they’re going to have to look the big words up. But this faux-pas doesn’t seem to really matter to them much either. Busting pot smokers looks good on the books and it’s a money maker. It’s got very little to do with protecting the public. They don’t want changes in laws screwing up the revenue stream.

John Cressman (profile) says:

Weed kills...

ANYTHING can kill if misused. Cars. Alcohol. Guns. Whatever. Anything in the wrong hands is potentially deadly.

The biggest issue with pot being “quasi-legal” is that it is still unregulated in any serious way. And with the super potent synthetic pot, people can get WAY more than they bargain for… or worse, if it’s baked into something and someone ELSE eats it… especially a kid, they can have all sorts of problem.

The comparison between cigarettes and pot are idiotic and the argument of a moronic drug addict. Other than smoking them, they have NOTHING in common. The effects of nicotine are NOTHING LIKE the effects of THC. You’ve never seen someone die from ODing on tabacco – although you do see people dying from diseases attributed to smoking. But you DO see people dying from ODing on synthetic pot.

And you ARE seeing a rise in pot related DUI.

If you’re going to use pot, do it some place safe and make sure you use stuff that you know the strength of. And for God’s sake… don’t leave pot cookies or brownies or anything else delicious where kids will find it! (Or pets!)

ottermaton (profile) says:

Re: Weed kills...

Well, in your parade of bullshit, you got one thing right:
The effects of nicotine are NOTHING LIKE the effects of THC.

That is correct, they are nothing alike. Perhaps you should educate yourself just a little by reading this article. Nicotine is a poison that has been used for centuries to murder. THC? Not so much. Actually, not AT ALL.

Here’s some quotes from the article:

But back in the 19th century … what people did know was that nicotine was one lethal compound.

And it?s that elegant arrangement that turns nicotine into such an effective poison, moving through the bloodstream with exceptional speed.

It?s worth noting that because they?re based on plant chemistry, pure nicotine poisons have been acceptable to the U.S. government for use by organic farmers treating insect infestations. And also that these same pesticides have occasionally turned up in more recent homicide investigations and in one unnerving 2003 mass poisoning incident in Michigan.

So … uh … stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

Richard (profile) says:

Even if the story were true

It wouldn’t mean what he thinks –

“37 people in Colorado, he said, had died of marijuana oversdoses on the very day that the state legalized pot.”

Amazing how quick the effect of the law was!

Those 37 (would have) died under the effects of the previous regime … where pot was illegal…

Those people who dropped their laptops were amazingly stupid – – it is rather worrying thet they were in positions of authority!

Boss Illuminati says:

MARIJUANA REVOLUTION 2014

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING!!!13

“any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, and 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody?the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…

Average spent per inmate a year = $31,286 (profit and police over people)
Average spent per student a year = $10,605 (dumber and more in debt, each one of us is liable for around $40,000 of rising American debt)

love and freedom forever

AMERICA’S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!33

MatBastardson (profile) says:

hazing

when did HS seniors hazing incoming freshmen become an urban legend? Is there anyone who has a doubt that is a real thing that plays out year after year all over the US? Or did it really only happen at my little podunk school while the rest of the country remains blissfully unaware of the ‘tradition’? The rest of the article was really cool, though. Sharing it widely.

DB (profile) says:

“I believed the information I obtained was accurate”

“This does not take away from the other facts presented”

He believed that people die from overdoses, and that it was so risky that 37 people died on the same day.

That’s a person so misinformed, so wrong, that you should be biased to doing the opposite of what they are telling you to do. Or they are so invested in their beliefs that they suspend critical thinking about the subject.

anzablazer says:

Fascist Authoritarian Military Police State

Marijuana Cop’s are nothing but Modern day Witch Hunters. DEA think legal pot is a threat to there money making business. The DEA as got a good racket going on. They don’t want to loose it. The DEA wants to keep there private prison filled up so that they have there slave labor camp. The DEA needs to be check out. The Government and the United Nation is using our soldiers to guard the To Big To Fail Banks Poppy Field in Afghan which supply 90% of Heroin to the world. That were the sharp rise in Heroin is coming from.

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