ON JANUARY 1, 2104, Colorado celebrated the first day of legal marijuana sales. The entire day was covered by various media outlets, large and small, reporting on the lines of jubilant customers. Alas, the next day, The Rocky Mountain News carried the headline “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization.”
The newspaper reported that deaths were due to marijuana overdoses and related issues and were statewide! Dr. Jack Shepard, chief of surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, told reporters that it was complete chaos:
“I’ve put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving every minute. We are seeing cardiac arrests, hypospadias, acquired trimethylaminuria and multiple organ failures. By next week the death toll could go as high as 200, maybe 300. Someone needs to step in and stop this madness. My god, why did we legalize marijuana? What were we thinking?”
Peter Swindon, president and CEO of local brewer MolsonCoors, was interviewed and reminded everyone that they had foreseen this:
“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.”
This harrowing news was picked up by countless websites and bloggers and the death toll was spread worldwide. None of these unofficial news sources took the time to do even rudimentary research, or they would have discovered any number of discrepancies.
A very strong, foul odor
Granted, there would be a rush to cover a serious incident like this, but every reporter should have wanted to know how smoking pot was causing multiple organ failure! And they should have been reaching for a dictionary to look up such fatal reactions as “hypospadias” and “acquired trimethylaminuria.”
Had they taken those few minutes to do some research, they would have discovered that hypospadias is a congenital condition in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the tip. The urethra is the tube through which urine drains from your bladder and exits your body.
Trimethylaminuria is a disorder in which the body is unable to break down trimethylamine, a chemical compound that has a pungent odor. People with this disorder give off a very strong, very foul odor, which can smell like rotting fish, rotting eggs, garbage, or urine. It is sometimes referred to as fish odor syndrome.
That is, hypospadias is a birth defect, and trimethylaminuria is a genetic disorder and almost impossible to “acquire,” especially instantaneously.
So how did this happen?
Cartoon by Dave Granlund.
Always check your source
And I always assumed that checking sources was imperative in news journalism. As was having at least two original sources. The sole source for the original article was The Daily Currant, which is a reasonably well-known satirical website.
That’ s right—it was satire!
A little more research would have uncovered these facts in the Currant news story:
• The Rocky Mountain News stopped publication in 2009.
• Dr. Jack Shepard is a fictional character in the television series Lost.
• Peter Swindon is a reporter for The Sunday Herald in Scotland.
Today those websites that picked up the story and ran with it unchecked might accuse the Currant of fabricating fake news.
No deaths, no injuries
There were no deaths due to marijuana consumption on opening day in Colorado, as there have been no deaths since. There weren’t even any injuries on January 1, 2018, for customers waiting in line—unlike events such as Black Friday, where people are hurt every year.
It’s a fun read, so click on over to The Daily Currant site and read “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization.” While you’re there, also check out “Obama Unveils New American Flag” and “Government Opening Free Gas Stations in Poor Neighborhoods.”
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is from the ABC television series Lost. A commercial airliner mysteriously falls from the sky and crashes on the beach of an even more mysterious island. This is the scene in the pilot where we meet dr. Jack Shepard (Mathew Fox), who will become the leader of the survivors.