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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

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Opioids such as Oxycontin continue to be abused in Denver and Colorado. - GETTY IMAGES
Opioids such as Oxycontin continue to be abused in Denver and Colorado.
Getty Images
RHETORIC FROM MARIJUANA OPPONENTS COULD FUEL OPIOID EPIDEMIC

"Earlier this year, SAM and MAC released a five-page report that relied on outdated data — data that has mostly proved to be misleading. This is nothing new from our opponents. We've seen this kind of 'reefer madness' for a long time. But highlighting opioids in the report isn't reefer madness.

"The opioid epidemic is taking tens of thousands of lives, and studies like a recent one out of Minnesota show that in legal marijuana states, prescription drug abuse is down. And in Minnesota, it was down by an astonishing number — nearly 63 percent said they were either using fewer opioids or had stopped using them altogether after they started using medical marijuana for pain.

"So when our opponents say marijuana legalization has led to a spike in the opioid epidemic, that's the worst kind of fake news — because it's a dangerous statement to be making. In this country as a whole, we're trying to take a bite out of the opioid epidemic, and if medical marijuana can help even in the slightest — and early indications are that it's helping a lot — then it's completely irresponsible for opponents to use that as a negative message. They're discouraging people from finding an alternative and helping to fuel this epidemic.


"We're not talking about reefer madness. We're talking about people's lives."

STUDY: NO, MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION IS NOT LEADING TO A SPIKE IN HOMELESSNESS

"Chief Troy Davenport is a police chief in Pueblo, and he's going around saying that marijuana has led to a spike in homelessness there. But there's just been a very concrete, comprehensive study, the first of its kind out of Pueblo County, and the researchers couldn't find any connection between homelessness and marijuana [for additional details, see 'Sh*tstorm After Study Finds No Causal Link Between Marijuana, Homelessness'].

"That doesn't seem to matter to Chief Davenport. I've seen him speak on numerous panels and I've read what he's said in a lot of stories — and some of them went national. He's always been anti-marijuana, and he's still anti-marijuana, no matter what the study showed. And that's a problem. You'd think studies like this one would actually inform law enforcement and elected officials, so they could have a more educated understanding when it comes to marijuana and its impacts. But the chief chose to ignore it. He chose to use anecdotal evidence from a handful of the officers from his department, who tell him they see homeless people and they're in town because of marijuana.

"I tend to lean in the direction of data, statistics and researchers with doctorates who go to the trouble of getting to the bottom of these things, not random comments. But the chief ignored the study, and that's why it goes into the realm of fake news."
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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