Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop Cites Satirical Headline About Marijuana Overdoses During Legalization Debate

| by Allison Geller

A DailyCurrant hoax headline was convincing enough to fool Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop, who argued against legalizing marijuana by pointing out that the evil weed had killed 37 the first day it was legalized in Colorado.

"The first day of legalization, that's when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana," Pristoop testified at Tuesday's Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing. "I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths."

The source he cited was headlined “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization” and contained a “quote” by a Denver doctor.

“’It's complete chaos here,’ said a fictional Dr. Jack Shepard, billed as chief of surgery at St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver by the article. "‘I've put five college students in body bags since breakfast and more are arriving every minute,’” the Daily Currant wrote.

The joke seems to have gone over the police chief’s head.

Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, who proposed the legalization bill, was the buzzkill.

"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."

Pristoop then tried to cover his tracks.

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

Pristoop later apologized for his misquote. 

“After conducting additional research, it appears that was not accurate at all," Pristoop told the Capital Gazette after the debate. “I believed at the time that was accurate.”

The police chief stood by his stance against legalizing the drug in Maryland.

"But I don't think it takes away from the other facts we presented,” Pristoop said. “I'm guilty of being a human being. I tried really hard to present verified facts.”

The Annapolis Police Department issued an statement on its Facebook page apologizing for the inaccuracy but quoted Pristoop as saying that the mistake “does not take away from the other facts presented in opposition to legalization or the good work of the Maryland Chiefs and Maryland Sheriffs Associations." 

Sources: Capital Gazette, Daily Currant