Annapolis police chief cites hoax story in opposition to marijuana legalization

Annapolis police chief cites hoax story in opposition to marijuana legalization — it was just a matter of time… 😐

Annapolis police chief cites hoax story in opposition to marijuana legalization
February 25, 2014

Testifying against bills proposed in Maryland to legalize and decriminalize marijuana, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop cited a hoax story that claimed 37 people died the first day marijuana was legalized in Colorado.

“The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” Pristoop said in testimony at Tuesday’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”

But Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, who has proposed a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax the drug, immediately fact-checked Pristoop.

“Unless you have some other source for this, I’m afraid I’ve got to spoil the party here,” Raskin said. “Your assertion that 37 people died of a marijuana overdose in Colorado was a hoax on the DailyCurrant and the Comedy Central website.”

Indeed, Pristoop was apparently referring to a hoax story by the satirical website, which reportedly fooled some people with the headline “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado on First Day of Legalization.”

He backtracked after Raskin called him out on his claim.

“If it was a misquote, then I’ll stand behind the mistake,” Pristoop said. “But I’m holding on to information I was provided.”

Reached by phone after he testified, Pristoop apologized.

“After conducting additional research, it appears that was not accurate at all,” Pristoop said. “I believed at the time that was accurate. But I don’t think it takes away from the other facts we presented… I’m guilty of being a human being. I tried really hard to present verified facts.”

Alderman Fred Paone, a member of the Annapolis City Council’s Public Safety committee, said he had not read the hoax article or Pristoop’s comments, but believed the police chief’s remarks were likely “a good faith mistake.”

The guy is doing his job and frankly you get kind of intense when you’re in the middle of something,” Paone, R-Ward 2, said.

The story Pristoop cited quoted a fake “Dr. Jack Shepard,” claiming he was “chief of surgery at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver.”

“It’s complete chaos here,” the fake doctor ranted. “I’ve put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving every minute.”

Pristoop was named chief of the Annapolis Police Department in 2008. He makes $147,515.