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Six Examples of Fake News About Marijuana

A classic example of marijuana fake news from 2014 — which was recently revived by Louisiana state representative Dodie Horton.
A classic example of marijuana fake news from 2014 — which was recently revived by Louisiana state representative Dodie Horton. File photo
Last August, when veteran reporter Peter Marcus announced that he was leaving the ambitious ColoradoPolitics.com project he'd helped launch the previous year in favor of a communications-director position with the rapidly growing marijuana dispensary chain Terrapin Care Station, he stressed that he wasn't leaving journalism behind, and that he planned to start a website that would mix original stories with posts intended to counter misinformation being spewed by pot enemies.

That site, TheNewsStation.com, is now live, and included among offerings that Marcus says "promote the positive business and economic impact of the cannabis industry" is a section in which he tears apart what he sees as marijuana "fake news."

One for-instance: According to TheNewsStation.com, Louisiana state representative Dodie Horton recently spoke about a 2014 satirical news article from The Daily Currant claiming that 37 people had died from "marijuana overdoses" in Colorado after legalization went into effect.

No, they didn't, as Horton has now admitted. She blamed the misinformation on "a so-called 'trusted' source."


Check out six more examples of fake marijuana news below.

NEW CANNABIS OPPOSITION GROUP TARGETS KIDS WITH #FAKENEWS

"Back in November, right around the five-year anniversary of marijuana legalization, a new group called the Marijuana Accountability Coalition announced they were setting up," Marcus notes. "They just put out the usual talking points about how marijuana is devastating kids with the same baseless, misleading statistics that have now been debunked. They like to use stats that have no correlation to marijuana legalization, using years that aren't really relevant.

"The most recent state and federal data shows that in the years since marijuana legalization, fewer teens are consuming. That's now just a fact. It's not a debatable topic, even though when MAC formed, it was under the assumption that marijuana was leading to an increase in teens using, and that would damage children. I wanted to point out that they're going to have a difficult time pushing that message in Colorado when we have clear evidence to the contrary.

"Our opponents are standing on the wrong side of history. It's very similar to the gay-marriage movement. A lot of people opposed it up until the day the Supreme Court approved it. But afterward, more and more people started to get to know gay people who'd gotten married and stopped caring about the issue altogether. Opposing gay marriage got to be passé. And the same thing is happening with the marijuana industry. As the roll-out expands nationally and continues to exceed everyone's wildest expectations, more and more Americans, and especially more and more Coloradans, are in favor of legal marijuana. That's what our opponents are up against."

click to enlarge On the campus of Colorado Christian University. - COLORADO CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY VIA THENEWSSTATION.COM
On the campus of Colorado Christian University.
Colorado Christian University via TheNewsStation.com
I LEARNED A LOT WALKING INTO THE HEART OF CANNABIS OPPOSITION

"I went to a Colorado Christian University event that examined the consequences of marijuana legalization five years later. It was pretty much one-sided, this symposium. There were members of law enforcement who didn't like it, health care leaders who didn't like it, national opponents like Kevin Sabet [CEO and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana]. It was ground zero for the marijuana-opposition movement. But I was well-received. A lot of folks there knew me from my previous job as a reporter, and I was well-received.

"I had a great time listening to the forum by Smart Colorado, which is a group dedicated to keeping marijuana out of the hands of children — and we're similarly aligned with them in the cannabis industry. We, too, want to keep it out of the hands of children. So I sat through their forum, listened, took notes and didn't open my mouth until an older gentleman raised his hands and asked, 'Is everyone in the cannabis industry empowered by the Mafia?'

"At first, I chuckled to myself. But then I realized he was serious. So I raised my hand and said, 'Would you guys mind?' And one of the women from Smart Colorado who recognized me said, 'Yes, thank you.' And I ended up having a seven-to-ten-minute Q&A with the folks in the audience, where I just answered their questions. I assured them that I wasn't in the Mafia — that I was a reporter who'd just come over to the industry — and highlighted some of the public-education stuff we've been working on, and talked about how the cannabis industry is taking its own initiative on educating people on consumption: not driving while intoxicated, purchase limits, corporate responsibility.

"It ended up being really productive. Afterward, I was milling around, and people came up to me, shook my hand and said, 'We disagree with you on a lot of things, but thank you for coming.' And one woman came up to me and said, 'I've never met anyone who works in the cannabis industry before,' which just shows you how much of a sheltered bubble some of these opponents are in. I've been pushing them, when they have these kinds of events, to invite people from the cannabis industry, so they can point things out that aren't true. Because it's a problem when folks on both sides of the debate aren't even familiar with each other."

click to enlarge Cannabis industry leader Dan Anglin took on attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference. - THENEWSSTATION.COM
Cannabis industry leader Dan Anglin took on attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
CANNABIS INDUSTRY LEADER TO TAKE ON OPPONENTS FOR CONSERVATIVE CPAC

"Dan Anglin is a leader in the cannabis industry, and in February, he took on some marijuana opponents at CPAC [the Conservative Political Action Conference, another event staged on the Colorado Christian University campus]. It was kind of a big deal when you consider it. You had the most prolific conservative convention in America invite someone from the marijuana industry to debate Jeff Hunt, perhaps one of the most high-profile conservatives against marijuana right now.

"Kudos to CPAC for inviting Dan to have a fair debate. But we put it under 'Fake News' because of what the opponents were going to say — and why it was good to have Dan there to debunk it."

click to enlarge A Fox31 "Cannibals Tasting Room" screen capture. - FOX31 VIA THENEWSSTATION.COM
A Fox31 "Cannibals Tasting Room" screen capture.
Fox31 via TheNewsStation.com
CANNABIS, NOT CANNIBALS, TASTING ROOMS IN COLORADO

"This was more tongue-in-cheek. We have a bill in the legislature to have cannabis tasting rooms, but there was an error on Fox31, where they called it 'cannibals.'

"It was just a mistake. I've been in lots of newsrooms, and those kinds of typos happen. So we were just having fun. But, no, we're not trying to legalize tasting rooms for cannibals."
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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