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Marijuana overdose hoax: 37 dead from smoking legal pot in Colorado

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Citing a Denver newspaper and quoting doctors at various medical facilities, a story detailing the horrific deaths caused by marijuana overdoses on the first day of legalization in the state of Colorado burned up the Internet. As The Inquistr reported Jan. 3, the problem was: The story was phony. A fake. A hoax. Bogus. No one died. Not one person. So how did a fake story become a problem for mainstream media?

It would seem that The Daily Currant, a satire and fiction-based website much like The Onion, decided to run a story in the spirit of the 1930s ode to marijuana paranoia "Reefer Madness," wherein they exaggerated the effects of pot smoking. The newspaper they cited, the Rocky Mountain News, was real at one time but shut down five years ago. The doctors and institutions quoted and used for verisimilitude were all fakes. Even the beer company, MolsonCoors, isn't a real company, although Coors Brewing Company, which operates out of Golden, Colo., is a division of the Molson Coors (notice the space) Brewing Company of Canada.

Close approximations do not authenticity make...

In the actual story, marijuana overdoses were taking place all over the state of Colorado. Phony Dr. Jack Shepherd (a fictional character from the hit ABC show "Lost") from Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center (a real hospital that would issue a very real retraction) said that they were putting college students away in body bags and "more are arriving every minute.”

“We are seeing cardiac arrests, hypospadias, acquired trimethylaminuria and multiple organ failures,” the fake doctor went on. “By next week the death toll could go as high as 200, maybe 300. Someone needs to step in and stop this madness. My god, why did we legalize marijuana? What were we thinking?”

Oh, the humanity! Oh, the histrionics! Oh, the 37 fake dead people, all victims of doing the impossible: Smoking themselves to death. According to an oft--cited study, it would take 20,000 to 40,000 times the amount of THC in a regular joint to put a pot smoker at risk of death.

You can't even buy that much marijuana, not to mention smoke that much. CNN reported that persons 21 and older could legally purchase pot from a legally licensed dealer in amounts up to an ounce, but only if said persons were from the state of Colorado. Non-resident could buy only a quarter-ounce. Also: users can share -- up to an ounce as long as no money is exchanged.

All marijuana overdose hoaxes and jokes aside, the first day of Colorado pot legalization probably couldn't have gone any better. Sales of marijuana topped $1 million. It is expected that sales will exceed $600 million by year's end.

Oh. And the number of people who have ever died of an actual marijuana overdose? Not one. Nada. None.

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