Medical marijuana coverage: Latest hysteria over... fake IDs?

Yesterday, we told you about an alleged medical marijuana robbery that was misreported -- and the anger of a dispensary owner over what he saw as sensationalized coverage of the weed industry in general. Last night, an ideal example of this phenomenon appeared on Channel 31 -- a hyped-up report about the horrors of two people in Boulder trying to (gasp!) use fake registry paperwork to get pot.

In the piece, correspondent John Romero conceded that "in a college town like Boulder, fake IDs are nothing new." But he didn't speak these words until after anchor Libby Weaver's heavy-handed intro. She declared marijuana to be "a growing problem," adding, in a grammatically challenged manner, "It's been a battle for law enforcement, from medical marijuana burglaries caught on camera to violent robberies of dispensaries, which some have turned deadly..." over file footage of serious and/or deadly crime scenes.

Turns out the incident at the heart of the tale took place at the dispensary owned by Pierre Werner, aka Dr. Reefer, who recently made headlines by prescribing pain to a pair of men who tried to break into his building. All it took was a quick phone call to a number on the form to convince Werner that the temporary licenses were bogus. But that doesn't make for nearly as good a story -- so Sgt. Barry Hartkopp of the Boulder County Drug Task Force was imported to declare that phony paperwork could net the users six to eighteen months in jail.

Or a slap on the wrist, more likely. Never mind about that, though.

Will we be seeing a similar report tonight about a CU student buying a bottle of Jack Daniels using a drivers license identifying him as "McLovin," complete with a montage of fatal car crashes caused by drunk drivers? Doubt it -- but that's because medical marijuana has become the sort of hot-button issue that TV stations seem eager to play for maximum drama whether the incident justifies such treatment or not.

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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