Marijuana

Sorry, D.A.R.E.: Pot Candies Didn't Really Kill 9 in Colorado, 12 at Coachella


For some reason, "How stupid can some people be?" remains a popular question in the Internet age, despite abundant evidence that the answer is, "Astonishingly, incredibly, jaw-droppingly stupid."

More evidence surfaced earlier this month, when D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), the venerable anti-drug organization, published on its website a story from the satirical website topekasnews.com headlined, "Edible Marijuana Candies Kill 9 in Colorado, 12 at Coachella" is if the events it describes had actually happened. The item lingered there for a month before the D.A.R.E. tech team removed it in belated embarrassment and shame.

Not that D.A.R.E. is alone in having made this kind of mistake in regard to fictional horror stories about pot in Colorado, as we've documented in this space — although most of these gaffes took place in the immediate aftermath of the January 1, 2014 launch of recreational sales here, and not more than a year later.

Among the hilarious examples from early last year was this faux-report from The Daily Currant:


Ridiculous, right? Yet plenty of readers believed it — and Maryland police chief Michael Pristoop actually cited it in state senate testimony two months after it had been debunked.

Then there was this January 2014 piece from The National Report; its full headline read, "Colorado Pot Shop Attempts To Disarm Citizens With `Weed for Guns` Buyback Program."


Our favorite response from a reader who didn't realize the story was fake: "Big Brother will do anything to disarm us."

Also from the first month of last year was this salvo about Representative Michele Bachmann from the news-satire site Newslo:


Nothing about the "facts" of this story checked out — yet the City of Fort Collins, where the supposed arrest took place, soon took to Twitter to deny the Internet rumor about Bachmann's bogus bust.

More than a year later, D.A.R.E. followed in this not-so-proud tradition by posting the edibles-death account, highlighted by mentions of the lethal goodies "Uncle Tweety's Chewy Flipper" and "Gummy Satans." The page no longer exists on the D.A.R.E. site, but the time when it was is preserved on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine:


It doesn't take a Google savant to know that double-checking a story like this one before accepting it as gospel is a pretty good idea. Doing so can prevent embarrassment — like the Washington Post discovering you've been duped and holding you up to ridicule.

But while this screw-up is undeniably amusing, one thing about it isn't particularly funny. As the Post points out, D.A.R.E. continues to receive funding from multiple federal agencies, including the departments of Justice and State.

Your tax dollars at work.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts